Every author has to struggle with promoting his or her work, and getting a book reviewed is one of the best ways to get a buzz going. Getting people to review your book, though, can be a challenge. Werner Stejskal, a top-flight author of illustrated children’s books has penned an easy to read, common sense guide for doing just that.
His book, How to Find Book Reviewers, is a departure from his usual fare, but it’s written in the same simple style as his ‘Oliver and Stumpy’ books. In this book Stejskal describes the methods he uses to find reviewers, methods that can easily be used by anyone, indie author or those published by others—news flash, even the big publishers expect the authors to do the lion’s share of book promotion, unless you’re lucky enough to be an established best-seller.
With the advice in this book, you could very well one day join that stellar group. I give it five stars.
Looking for a good book to read? Looking for a place to showcase your book? Check out Beezeebooks, a site for readers and writers, featuring some of the best fiction and nonfiction by indie authors worldwide.
For an idea of what I’m talking about, check out the entry for my book, Frontier Justice: Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal at http://beezeebooks.com/frontier-justice-bass-reeves-deputy-u-s-marshal/western/, and while you’re there, check out some of the titles by other outstanding authors.
It’s that time of the month again—first Wednesday—time for a contribution to Alec Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group, a collection of nearly 300 avid bloggers who share ideas, fears—you name it—about writing for fellow writers. If you’d like to become a part of this stellar group, go here and sign up.
This month, I want to address an issue that I know concerns everyone who writes for publication; book promotion, and how to avoid some of the schemes floating around.
Book promotion is like going to the dentist. It’s one of those things that is unpleasant, but necessary for good health, or in the case of a book, getting sales. Social media, as pervasive as it is these days, is a good way to promote your published work, or even create buzz for a work in progress, but the problem is knowing how to use it.
I’ve found Twitter to be a highly effective means to get word out about my books. So, apparently, have thousands—if not millions—of other people. As with any technique that works, it has also spawned a whole new industry of people who offer, for a fee, to help you get your word out to the Twitterverse.
I’m not calling these offers scams, because the majority of them are probably honest offers. But, honest or not, they are unnecessary. Why pay $50 upwards to have tweets posted about your book by someone else, when you could, with a little effort, probably do the same thing yourself? Or, you could find one of the free retweet services, such as CoPromote, to do it. I’ve been using this one for several months now, and during time have reached over 4 million new potential readers, and seen a 25% increase in monthly book sales, both paperback and e-Book. CoPromote is a relatively easy concept. You sign up, link your account to your Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube accounts. You then pick a Twitter, Tumblr or YouTube post to promote and highlight it (the instructions are easy). After you’ve selected a post to promote, you scroll through posts by other members and select up to ten per day. The posts you select are promoted on your accounts, and other members promote your post. My average number of shares during the two week promotion period has been 150,000 to just over 300,000 new shares. That’s a lot of new readers. When I first signed up, Facebook posts could also be linked, but due to technical problems, this is no longer possible. The web masters at CoPromote say they’re working on the problem, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. There is, though, a way around the problem. I have my Facebook and Twitter accounts linked, so that when I tweet, it also does a Facebook post. Helps others more than me, other than the fact that it helps enhance my reputation as someone who promotes others–not a bad thing for a writer.
I use CoPromote primarily to promote published books, but have also used it for other projects, such as my photography. This gives me extended reach to new readers without having to do frequent sales pitches on my own accounts. And, it costs me nothing. Now, you can’t get better advertising than that. I’d be interested in hearing from anyone else who has had experience with CoPromote or any other free book promotion site.
Voting begins . . . NOW!
Show your support of over 30 authors including USA Today bestsellers by voting in the first ever Book Trailer Love Fest. Watch the trailers, vote in the polls, and share the contest with your friends! The voting is live from February 15th to February 22nd. Winner will be selected on the February 23rd. This is a fun, free contest made to support all authors! So hop on over to booktrailerlovefest.com and get your vote on!
Here is a list of authors participating in the contest:
USA TODAY Bestselling Authors:
Amazon Bestselling Authors:
Award Winning Authors:
Also featuring these fabulous authors:
Katherine Jean Pope
W K Pomeroy
Support your favorite author by voting for his or her book trailer today. Remember, reading is FUNdamental, so read and enjoy!
Here we are, the first Wednesday of the month, and time for another contribution to Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Group. If you’d like to share your thoughts, hints, or fears about writing, go here to join in. This week, I’d like to share my thoughts about a fear that can be turned to the advantage of every writer seeking to more widely promote his or her work – the fear of public speaking.
Most people have an almost irrational fear of speaking before an audience – many fear that more than death. But, for a way to get your writing known by a wider audience, using public speaking opportunities is one that should not be ignored.
I have, like many, had a fear of making public speeches. When I was a teenager, during my freshman year in high school, I would get tongue-tied and absolutely panicky at the prospect of getting up in front of a group and talking. Luckily, I had a freshman home room teacher who recognized the fear and had a way to help me overcome it. During the early weeks of the semester, she would make me stand in front of the classroom until I said something – anything. Her shock therapy worked. After a few weeks, I found it possible to speak without stuttering, and after I said something funny one morning and cracked the whole room up, my fear was mostly conquered. I’m now a regular on the podium, speaking on a range of topics with which I’m familiar. I still get the occasional attack of nerves, but once I start interacting with an audience, the jitters disappear.
Enough background – what you want to know is how I use these occasions to promote my books. It’s really simple, and it has worked well for me.
First, I always take a good supply of my business cards to events. My cards contain links to my blogs and to my Amazon author page which contains ‘buy’ links for all my books. I also take along a few copies of books – preferably, but not always, related to the subject of my speech. I place them where they can be easily seen by the audience, and during breaks and at the conclusion of my remarks, I’m always asked about them by two or three attendees. As we discuss them, I hand out cards. After each such event, I’ve noticed an uptick in my sales – and, not just the books on display, but others as well. After one speech on ethics at the Army Command and General Staff College, for instance, where I had copies of my Buffalo Soldier western/historical series (appropriate to the venue since the Buffalo Soldier memorial is there), sales of one of the books in the series jumped to 800 for the month, and each other volume in the series had increases from 2 – 3 copies to over 20 each. In addition, the staff college foundation magazine did a feature on me and my books, which still generates sales of that series.
At a speaking engagement at Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York, I got into a conversation on writing during a break in the session, and several people asked for my card or for links to my books online. Again, that month I had an uptick in sales.
Contrary to some cynics, word of mouth is an effective way to sell books, and one of the most effective mouths to start that process rolling is your own. Public speaking shouldn’t be scary. When you stand before an audience – hopefully, talking about a subject with which you’re familiar – you can and should be in control of the situation. Like any other skill, it improves with practice. So, get over that fear of public speaking, and get out there and sell your books!
As part of her Back to School Blog Hop I’m pleased to have fantasy author on my blog today, talking about her writing, so give her a rousing welcome.
- How and when did you get started writing?
I started writing stories in third grade. In fact, I have a story about pigs written in multicolored crayon and illustrated with pink circles that have tails. I presume they are pigs since I’m not an artist. In middle school, I did a report on the Civil War by writing a narrative from the point of view of a slave—in dialect. I took a Creative Writing class in high school that I absolutely loved, and in college I had an English professor that had us imitate the styles of great writers like Hemingway and Steinbeck. I didn’t get serious about writing, though, until about 2007. I was teaching sixth grade at the time and figured if I assigned stories and expected students to write them, that I should be able to do it. I set myself the goal of completing a novel that had a coherent beginning, middle, and end. It took four years and many many many rewrites to make ON A WING AND A DARE coherent. Now I am hooked and have to write.
- What motivates you to write?
I see the world in what ifs. Every conversation, every encounter, every news story becomes a scene. What if that happened to my character? What if someone said that to a really selfish person? Full scenes run through my head like movies and I have to write them down. That’s the fun part. The work is tying them all together into a novel.
- What is your favorite genre, and why?
I absolutely love fantasy and historical fiction. Most of the books in my classroom (and I have over 500) fall into these two categories. In sixth grade, we learn about ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, and China. Stories with characters, emotions, and real settings bring it alive. Fantasy fires the imagination and allows a reader (especially children) to play out possible reactions to real life problems such as sibling rivalry, jealousy, bullying, or losing a parent.
- Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
From my head? No, that’s too easy. I suppose my ideas come mostly from my reading. I read voraciously, every genre, mostly fiction but some nonfiction too. I see how other authors deal with issues like coming of age (which is a key theme in my flying horse books) and it inspires me. Now that I have a solid world built with flying horses in medieval Wales, I can put situations I read about, or see on the playground at school, into place and see how the characters react.
- What are you currently working on?
ALOHA SPIRIT is a historical fiction piece set in territorial Hawaii. It follows Carmen James, a young girl born on Kauai to Spanish parents. Her mother dies in childbirth, and her father gives her away at a young age. She lives with a Hawaiian family that mistreats her and marries at sixteen. By age twenty, she has three children and her husband has left her. Nonetheless, through her long life, she embodies the spirit of aloha—everyone is welcome, everyone is ohana, family. Like UNDER THE ALMOND TREES, this new one is based on a real woman in my family—my husband’s grandmother.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 – 10 years, regarding your writing?
I am close to retiring from teaching. To me, that means more time to write! I want to write another flying horse trilogy—ideas are already banging around in my head. I also have another woman in my family (at least one!) that I want to write about. Of course I hope that more people hear about my books and enjoy them, but my main motivation is to write them. I also wish for someone (a writer’s fairy godmother) to swoop in and say, “Please! Let me take over marketing your books so you can focus on writing!”
- Anything else you’d like to say to my readers about writing?
Wting is the hardest job I’ve ever loved. I know just about every writer says that, but it’s so true. The more I write, the better the first drafts are. That is something I tell my students—you’ll get better only if you practice. Of course, I also tell them I revised ON A WING AND A DARE for four years, so if I ask you to rewrite your two-page story twice don’t groan!
It’s that time again – time for another contribution to Alec Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. You should really pop over and join. My offering this month is about following (or not) advice.
There’s tons of advice out there for writers: how-to, what you shouldn’t do, you could fill the Library of Congress with it. I’m taking a poke at one piece of advice in particular – some people are adamant that you should never give what you write away for free as this devalues it. I’m not taking a side, nor am I attempting to debunk that belief. I’m doing what all the how-to authors should do, and telling you what works for me.
I’ve been publishing my books on Kindle for several years, but I resisted participating in the Kindle Direct Publishing Select (KDP Select) program for a long time because of the aforementioned advice. It was only after I’d launched my Buffalo Soldier series that I decided to give the KDP free offer a shot. I did the free 5-day giveaway with the fourth in the series at the same time I published the fifth, just to see what would happen. Up to that time I’d been getting 3 – 5 sales per month. That month, though, after over 600 downloads of the free book, I saw a significant uptick in sales of the earlier books. The new book also had amazing sales (nearly 800 during the first three weeks).
Since then I’ve been doing a 3 to 5-day giveaway each month. My sales went up after I started the practice, with an average of 100 – 150 per month. I can’t attribute all of the new sales to the promotion, but then again, who knows. Maybe it is a bad idea to give your work away, but then again – –
I just found a new site devoted to helping authors promote their books – the Cold Coffee Cafe. They help you set up your own page where you can promote the dickens out of your published works, and I must say I like the user-friendly format. Check out my page, which I think is finally humming smoothly, and tell me what you think.
The Ghost Files, Volume I by Apryl Baker
Cherry blossom lipstick: check
Smokey eyes: check
Skinny jeans: check
Dead kid in the mirror: check
For sixteen year old Mattie Hathaway, this is her normal everyday routine. She’s been able to see ghosts since her mother tried to murder her when she was five years old. No way does she want anyone to know she can talk to spooks. Being a foster kid is hard enough without being labeled a freak too.
Normally, she just ignores the ghosts and they go away. That is until she see’s the ghost of her foster sister… Sally.
Everyone thinks Sally’s just another runaway, but Mattie knows the truth—she’s dead. Murdered. Mattie feels like she has to help Sally, but she can’t do it alone. Against her better judgment, she teams up with a young policeman, Officer Dan, and together they set out to discover the real truth behind Sally’s disappearance.
Will Mattie be able to find out the truth before the killer finds her?
Q and A:
Q: So tell us a little bit about Apryl Baker.
A: Well, in a nutshell, I’m the crazy girl with an imagination that never shuts up. Seriously, sometimes I can be mid-sentence and I’ll get an idea and stop talking so I can write it down. Terribly rude, I know, but my friends and family are used to it!
Q: Mattie is a very, well, let’s call her unique. What inspired you when you created that little bundle of attitude?
A: LOL! She is that, isn’t she? Well, honestly, I had some foster kids living down the block from me and I had the opportunity to get to know them. It took me the better part of a year to get them to trust me enough to open up. I have to say they were the bravest, most courageous kids I’ve ever met. They are tough as nails, loyal only to each other, and they will break your heart. Some of the stories they told me made me want to just cry. Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of great foster homes out there, the one they were in at the time I got to know them was one of those, but there are just as many bad ones as well. I got to hear up close and personal just how bad some of them were.
Those experiences shaped those kids into the people they were. They all had serious trust issues and sometimes the haunted look in their eyes made me hurt. When I got the idea for this story, Mattie in my mind was a foster kid. I wanted to show people that those kids are more than just the tough facade they show to the world, that they are vulnerable and sweet underneath their layers of shields. I rolled all their attitude into Mattie and there’s a little bit of each of them in her.
Mattie Louise Hathaway is that tough as nails foster kid who looks after her own and will deck you as soon as look at you, but underneath all that attitude, there’s still a sixteen year old girl who’s scared, alone, vulnerable, and well 16! She still notices the cute guy while being that sassy, snotty brat!
Q: I know that most writers have to have music when they are writing. Let’s face it, music has inspired so many different stories over the years. What was on your playlist when you wrote The Ghost Files?
A: Wow, well, I did listen to a ton of different music, but these were my favs:
Fall Out Boy: My Song Knows What You Did In the Dark (this song alone is responsible for the last five chapters of the book!)
Evanescence: Bring Me Back To Life
Bruno Mars: Just the Way You Are
Demi Lavato: Heart Attack
Taylor Swift: I Knew You Were Trouble
Taking Back Sunday: Make Damn Sure
My Chemical Romance: I Don’t Love You
My Chemical Romance: The Ghost of You
Korn: Freak On A Leash
Dashboard Confessional: Slow Decay
Valora: I Waited For You
Q: What advice would you give struggling authors in today’s market?
A: My best advice is to never give up. I still have stack upon stack of rejection letters sitting on my desk. It sucks! That will never change. You write this amazing story, polish it up a hundred times, then send out the query letter you slaved over for weeks, only to get rejection upon rejection upon rejection. Huge blow to anyone’s confidence. Here’s the thing though, you have all these rejection letters, but it only takes that one yes to make it all better. I almost gave up on writing, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I have an amazing writing group, an agent that believes in me, and a publisher that is downright awesome. Just believe in yourself. You can’t see your dreams come true if you don’t keep trying. Give yourself a minute to wallow in pity, then get up, dust yourself off and try, try again!
Q: So why should we all rush out to buy The Ghost Files?
A: That’s simple! It’s awesome! No, really, it’s a fun, but scary read. I have been advised by all the Wattpad crew who read it before it was published that you cannot read it in the dark. Scared them senseless. There’s a hint of romance, but the book itself is centered around the mystery of who killed Mattie’s foster sister and the fact that Mattie now has to face her own weirdness. She can see ghosts? Um, not something she advertises. Then there’s Officer Dan…yum, all I’m saying.
About the Author:
So who am I? Well, I’m the crazy girl with an imagination that never shuts up. I LOVE scary movies. My friend Chazz laughs at me when I scare myself watching them and tells me to stop watching them, but who doesn’t love to get scared? I grew up in a small town nestled in the southern mountains of West Virginia where I spent days roaming around in the woods, climbing trees, and causing general mayhem. Nights I would stay up reading Nancy Drew by flashlight under the covers until my parents yelled at me to go to sleep.
Growing up in a small town, I learned a lot of values and morals, I also learned parents have spies everywhere and there’s always someone to tell your mama on you. So when you get grounded, what is there left to do? Read! My Aunt Jo gave me my first real romance novel. It was a romance titled “Lord Margrave’s Deception.” I remember it fondly. But I also learned I had a deep and abiding love of mysteries and anything paranormal. As I grew up, I started to write just that and would entertain my friends with stories featuring them as main characters.
Now, I live Huntersville, NC where I entertain my family and watch the cats get teased by the birds and laugh myself silly when they swoop down and then dive back up just out of reach. The cats start yelling something fierce…lol.
I love books, I love writing books, and I love entertaining people with my silly stories.
PS: DO NOT GET IN MY WAY IF THERE IS A SALE ON AT TARGET – my home away from home!
Connect With Apryl:
Don’t forget to check out Apryl’s other books, The Promise and The Awakening!
Enter to win a signed print edition of The Ghost Files just by Liking Apryl’s Author page on Facebook!
It’s great when your work gets read in public. In November, Zimbabwean novelist Virginia Phiri read my urban fantasy Wallace in Underland to students at one of Zimbabwe’s secondary schools. I’ll let her describe the event in her own words”
Every writer wants his or her books to be read, and hopefully enjoyed. One of the ways of getting your work noticed is through public readings. In November, I had that experience vicariously when Zimbabwean novelist Virginia Phiri read my book Wallace in Underland at one of Zimbabwe’s secondary schools. Virginia, one of Zimbabwe’s most prominent writers, had previously read and reviewed the book, and when she was invited to do a reading at the school, asked if she could read my book. Well, of course, I said YES.
I’ll let Virginia’s own words describe the event:
I have just come back from a successful Masiyephambili Junior School Readings. The students, their teacher, the School Librarian and I had a lot of fun!
Wallace in Underland was a hit with 12 and 13 years olds. This was both boys and girls. During the questions, answers and interaction sessions the students seemed to have picked up the bullying aspect by Jamal and his friends and the abused pets sentiments. It was clear that the students were able to relate the topics to their environments.
This is a different style of writing from what they are used to but they enjoyed every minute of the reading.
It looks like there will be more of these readings in other towns and at the Book Fair.