Monday, October 31, 2011

In a Shock and Awe Sort of Way

Decided to do a last minute post before I delve into NaNoWriMo.  If I do what I'm supposed to be doing, there won't be many blog posts during the month of November.  I'll try to focus solely on writing new material and will be judiciously ignoring my laundry, kids, cleaning duty and most marketing efforts.  I say 'most' marketing efforts because I will continue to participate in blog hops and giveaways.  I've decided to cordon off an upper section of my blog to devote to these announcements.  The Spooktacular Blog Hop Giveaway has led to an increase in blog followers; I have yet to find out if it has led to an increase in sales; I'll do the science later – after November.  No Science in November (NoSciNo).

I will also release another vampire short, a prequel to Gleaming White.  The only thing left to do is cover art – and out it goes!  You may see a tweet or two when it is done.

I find myself at an awkward stage in the publishing process; I have two polished ebooks published that have made ok sales, but certainly not enough to turn a profit (50 or so book sales between the two of them).  Meanwhile, I anxiously await the posting of reviews.  I have certainly expected some to churn out by now, but I am holding off on harassing the reviewers for fear of being black-listed.

I have resorted to other methods of garnering reviews:

1 – E-book giveaways on Goodreads (offered the first of my vampire short story book to the first ten commenter's, then offered the second in the series for free if they post a review before a certain date).

2 – E-book giveaways on blog hops: Same premise – give away the first, offer the second if they post a review.

3 – If a reviewer doesn't have the time to read your book, counter with an offer to do a guest blog post, interview, or giveaway on their site.  I've recently received a lot of exposure this way.

But now what do I do while I sit back and wait for the reviews to flow in, thereby magically increasing my sales numbers?  I write more books...duh!  With all this marketing, researching, and experimenting, it is easy to forget that above all, we are writers.  I am hoping that the month of November will bring me back to that concept (in a shock-and-awe sort of way).

Good luck to all you Twain Wannabes attempting NaNoWriMo, and follow me afterwards to figure out what to do next!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Hi there all – I'm trying to boost sales with a few marketing strategies, including giveaways.  Wha-whaat?  Increase sales by giving away stuff – for free?  Hells to the yes!

This one is hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer I have 10, count them, 10 free e-books to giveaway for my Vampire Short Story, Gleaming White, in honor of Halloween.  And, if the winners leave a review on Amazon by November 15th, 2011 and provide me the link, they will receive a free copy of the second book in the series, Streaks of Red, to be released in November.  Disclaimer: There is adult content in both short stories!

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post between October 24th and October 31st.  10 winners will be chosen at random and will be contacted by November 3rd.  

PLUS, you can gain another entry by 'liking' my page on Facebook or Amazon (two extra entries if you do both).  Just leave a comment to this post with your e-mail address, and be sure to let me know if you 'liked' me on Facebook, Amazon, or both so I can account for your extra entries. 

Now go to I Am A Reader Not A Writer and enter the rest of the 400+ giveaways.  Good luck and Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

NaNoWriMo = NotSoPubRedNo

As I sit here, thinking about NaNoWriMo – I started freaking out.  There was a reported a surge in self-published ebooks that had no business being on the market in December of last year (unsubstantiated, I did no science).  I can only attribute this to NaNoWriMo participants who were naive enough to believe they had a publish-ready novel after a month long 2000+ words/day writing binge (for the sake of this article, we will refer to them as NotSoPubRedNo's).

This scared me as a self-publisher of ebooks.  Would anything I put out in the few months after NaNoWriMo be automatically labeled a NotSoPubRedNo?  Probably.  If I were a book review blogger I might just be inclined to reject all submissions at least until February.  That is probably why I am not a book blogger.

To combat the NotSoPubRedNo plague, I will take two approaches. 

1 - Get out all my review requests for completed works by the end of November.  So yes, I am back to stalking reviewers.  I found a creepy, new method too.  For those that are closed to reviews or those who haven't responded to a request – find them on Goodreads, friend them, suggest your book.

2 -  Start a campaign within the NaNoWriMo community to just say no to NotSoPubRedNo's or in other words...NoNotSoPubRedNo (ok – I am probably getting a bit ridiculous here, I blame the rum).

This campaign will consist of tweeting, facebooking, google +ing, blogging, talking, Morse coding, smoke-signaling (again with the rum) all the steps writers must take after NaNoWriMo to produce a PubRedNo.  See what I did there?  Hashtag it.  Tweet it. 

Step 1:
Finish it.  50,000 words does not a novel make.

Step 2:
Edit it.  Substantively, professionally.

Step 3:
Edit it again.  Grammar, punctuation.

Step 4:
Critique it.  Join a group; get feedback.

Step 5:
Edit it again.

Step 6:
Cover art.  Hire those Mormons - see my post on why.

Step 7:

Step 8: 
Publish then market that bee-atch!  Bee-yatch.  Beetch.  None of those look right.  I'll have to google it.

So there you have it.  Eight steps.  Boom!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Self-Publishers: Take the Twitter Oath

So you are self-publishing...then you need to be on Twitter.  Once you have an account; decide what your message will be.  Make it about your books, self-publishing, your writing process, but pick one and stick with it.  Multiple messages will be confusing for your followers.  My aim @harmonygirlit is to tweet about the self-publishing process.  After you have chosen your platform, hold your right hand up in the air and repeat after me: 

Now that you have taken the Twitter oath, sign up for an account at and start tweeting!  First things first, learn to tweet directly.  Try it by sending me this tweet: 

@harmonygirlit love your blog, took the twitter oath.  

I promise to follow you until I get that first tweet about your lunch.  Then you will be promptly 'unfollowed'.  Putting someone's twitter identifier at the beginning of your tweet will send a direct message (DM) to them and won't be sent out to the rest of your followers.

Follow Someone
Now, go out and find some people to follow.  Try to only follow people important to your platform.  If necessary, create another 'personal' twitter account to follow your best friend and the news.  If you are following dozens of people, make separate lists so you don't have to scroll through thousands of Twitter messages to find something useful.  This can be done under your homepage under 'lists'.

Where it's @
Check the @mentions button on your twitter homepage often.  These are where direct messages from others to you show up.  Don't ignore them!

Remember to include #hashtags with most of your tweets.  They allow you to 'tag' your tweets so they are included on a long list of every other tweet with that hash tag.  Every time I include a hashtag my follower base grows slightly.  For a list of hashtags specific to writing and the self-publishing industry, see my 'Twitter Resources' guide under my resources section of the blog.

Retweets (AKA RT)
My followers also grow every time my tweets get retweeted.  Granted, I only have two retweets – but I did get a boost in followers – both times it happened!  Don't be shy about asking followers for a retweet, but don't be annoying about it, either.

Twitter Conferences (for lack of a better term)
I've also participated in several twitter conferences using TweetChat.  Agents, publishers and writers will set aside a day and time for question and answer sessions via twitter – followable by including a hash tag.  @bradfordlit and @colleenlindsay will often do this and #bookcountry will often host (just a few examples).

Linking Up
Oh, and don't forget to link your twitter feed to your other platforms; Facebook, Amazon author page, Goodreads, etc.

More Stuff
Be sure to download my Twitter Resources guide on the resources section of my blog.  In addition to hashtags, it has websites that help you find followers and websites to help you decipher 'twitter speak'.

Confession time:  I only have 27 twitter followers.  Wait let me check...yep, still just 27.  So you'll have to excuse me while I go follow my own advice – I'll let you know how it goes...

Friday, October 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo - The Devil Wrapped up in a Twinkie. Sounds Delicious.

(The title was just to get your attention.  It worked, suckers.)

When a member of my writing group first asked me, "Are you doing NaNoWriMo?"
My immediate response was, "What'd you just call me?"
He explained.  Sounded like torture.  I said I was in.  My biggest concern, of course, is how it will affect my favorite holiday of the year.  My kids I can ignore, my day job can suffer, my laundry can stay dirty – we will all probably survive the month.  But that feast must go on.

With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, we have started to hear a lot of *ugh*, *sigh* and *not again*'s from within the writing and publishing communities.  Many people take umbrage with the fact that a novel can be written in a month.  On SheWrites, an author recently posted a blog 'Just Say No to NaNoWriMo'.  I felt compelled to reply, as did many others.  Chuck Wendig (avid tweeter, writer, creator of Terrible Minds) has many things to say about the NaNoWriMo.  Some good, some bad, some not for the faint of – ear?

As Chuck would say, 50,000 words does not a novel make.  No one participating should be under the illusion they will have a marketable product by the end of November.  The NaNoWriMo website itself says, "The ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output.  It’s all about quantity, not quality.  Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap."

What this will do is force writers to write – perhaps discover the plot, storyline or characters as you type away instead of hashing them out in advance.  It'll get you past that writer's block – in fact, it will force you to punch that block square in the face and that is after you mow it down with a semi-automatic weapon.  Yes, my friends, it will be gory.

But you can do it!  Use resources offered; participate in forums, tweet about your progress (use hashtag #nanowrimo), find local writers and create a group.  But most of all – write!  Aim for 2,000 words a day, every day.  When you get stuck, move on.  Start a different story, introduce a new character, write about how much you hate your life.  Anything!  Besides, if you 'win' (yes, NaNoWriMo has conceded to the gamification of society), you receive special offers from the sponsors.

I am curious to find out exactly how soon after November we see a surge in self-published e-books (or a surge in divorce rates, for that matter).  Makes me want to get out more review requests now.  Just keep in mind Twain Wannabe's, that months of adding to, subtracting from, editing, formatting, cover art and more editing will be in your future after NaNoWriMo.  With luck, you can have all that done by July 2012 – just in time to start prepping for the next NaNoWriMo. 
Damn – I am getting sick of writing that word, acronym, whatever it is.  Did I mention I am a writer?

Anyway, excuse my blog for the month of November while I will mostly be blogging about how much I hate writing.  But follow me afterwards, as we can 'finish up' and tackle the self-pubbin' beast together.

NaNoWriMo, 50,000 words, GO!!!  Yes, go…you really don't have to wait until Nov. 1.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Help with Writing – Because Everyone Else has Abandoned You

Normally my posts are about self-publishing.  That is all well and good; I am as happy to get this kind of advice as the next guy.  But sometimes – or maybe all the time – we need advice on writing (using my conjunction at the beginning of the sentence as proof).  After all, Indie Authors are constantly told: if you don't have a good story, it won't sell. 

After you have exhausted all available resources (meaning your significant other, family members or friends), try a writing group.  See my post on this.

Left to my own, scary, writing tactics when I needed to reorganize one of my short stories – I ended up printing the entire thing, cutting it up by scene, hanging it on our bookshelf and reorganizing that way.

Upside to this, my husband actually looked at it and pointed out a mistake.  If hanging up the story all over the house is what I have to do to get his input, so be it.  Looks like we just decided on new wallpaper.

Shortly after, I was introduced to some writing software that can do the same – scissors free.  Scrivener is now in the beta stages for Microsoft but has a full version out for Mac users.  Winners of NaNoWriMo received a 50% off coupon last year; hopefully the same will occur this year so I can try it out!

A friend in my writing group (see all the advantages they have?) loaned me a copy of Dramatica Pro.  I have already begun entering my novel information into the program.  Granted, the novel is already complete but it may help me identify weaknesses, and can hopefully transfer into the next book of the series.

Looking forward to seeing how some of you Twain Wannabe's illicit writing help!

Friday, October 7, 2011

I am done stalking reviewers...for now.

Spent the last week sending out rounds of review requests to book review bloggers; got some interesting responses.  First, I will reiterate – taking the time to add a comment specific to their blog, or connecting with them in a personal way, will be 4.287 times as likely to illicit a response (I would know – I did science).  I have a list of book review sites for you other Twain Wannabes under my resources section; I'll add to it occasionally.  Keep in mind these are mostly fiction, fantasy-type bloggers.

Figuring out something personal to say may take some time, but it will be worth it.  If you can't find a connection – they probably wouldn't be interested in your book anyway.   

Check out this response from a reviewer (click on image to enlarge):

 Yes – this made me angry; this is the first time I got a response suggesting I pay for the review.  I immediately wrote a response, making very good use of my 'four-letter-word' vocabulary.  Then I...wait for it...wait for it...deleted what I wrote.  Instead, I sent this:

And got this in return:

Not sure if the radio show will actually happen.  I will of course blog, tweet, facebook and throw it in your face any way I know how if it does happen.

In addition, my cover art will be featured on some blogger websites, and I have set up some promotions on Goodreads within a few fantasy reader groups.  I am hoping within the next half year, I'll see some sales as a result of all this work.  It could happen...right?

In the meantime, I will leave you to revel in the glory and awesomeness of my review request for Water:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Formatting, Shmormatting

Q: You mean we have to format things, and stuff? 
A: Yes.

Q: But, I'm a creative-type.  I just barely learned how to market my book.  Is it really necessary?
A: Yes.

Q: *Whine* How do I do it?
A: Carefully.

Q: Seriously, it can't be that important.  Can it?
A: Yes.

This is the last thing authors want to do with their manuscript; removing the tabs, creating a Table of Contents, ensuring images are inserted properly, blah, blah, blah.  But not doing it could very well be the demise of all your marketing efforts.  Even if you are self-published...scratch that...especially if you are self-published, your book needs to appear, like, hella-proffesional.  Otherwise readers and reviewers won't give you the time of day.

You know who else didn't format properly?  Hitler.  And look what happened to him.  Listen, I'll make it easy on you – go to the 'resources' section listed on the right hand side of the page, and open the 'Basic E-Book Formatting Guide'.  Follow this guide to format your novel first; then use the additional guides to format specifically for Smashwords, Kindle, and Nook.  If you have a go at it by yourself, use Mark Coker's Smashwords Guide – it is very user friendly and very detailed.  Kindle is understandable, but not as detailed.  Barnes & Noble PubIt! formatting guide for Nook is just plain confusing as hell.  Don't attempt to use it; unless you are the geeky type or like a challenge.

Formatting a full length novel should only take a few hours.  There are plenty of help forums out there if you have questions.  If you intend to self-publish more books in the future, I suggest you learn how to do this now instead of hiring help.

A quick 'Google' search led me to these helpful resources:

Hella-proffesional, shmormatting, and...GO!