Friday, January 31, 2014

Mentioning Some Publisher Love

I recently received my quarterly statement from one of my three publishers. I've been with them for quite a while and my most recent release, The Marine's Heiress, is my eighth novel with New Concepts Publishing. Every quarter when I get my statement, I'm reminded of some of the reasons I'm glad I'm with a small publisher.

I published my first book with New Concepts at the end of 2007. It doesn't seem like such a long time ago but in book years, six years is leaning toward elderly for a fiction novel. In the bad old days of book publishing, a genre novel might get a few weeks in the sun and then might never be seen again. Thanks to ebooks, the shelf life of a book can be infinite. Every quarter when I get that sales report, that very first book is still making money for me. Not like it did in its first year or even its second, but people are still purchasing it.

Every time I have a new book released, I see a little bump in sales on my old books. Not one or two of them, but all of them. Not just ebooks, but print books also. New Concepts recently did some upgrades to their site so they can show off new releases and special sales even better. When they sell my books directly from their site, I make more money on it since the middle man is cut out of the profits.

Though my small publisher doesn't pay me an advance, with their support in keeping my books easily available I feel confident I will eventually earn an income from my books similar to what a larger publisher pays as an advance. As you've probably heard before, many books with the large publishers never earn back their advances and that is the only money authors ever see. I'm quite happy right where I am.

Do you remember the days when backlist books were difficult or impossible to find? Have you received advances for your books or do you earn only royalties? Do you have books that keep earning and earning for you? Want to shout out a 'love-ya' to your publisher?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What Keeps You Warm?

Staying warm tops the list of concerns in many parts of the USA in recent days. I'm so glad my job as a writer has allowed me to stay indoors during this brutally cold time. I know many people aren't near so fortunate. But the warmth I'm addressing today isn't of the physical kind. I'm talking about those warm, fuzzy inside feelings.

With my newest release, I've reached outside my comfort zone and asked a few friends to mention The Marine's Heiress on their blogs. To some people my reach might seem more like sticking out their pinkie finger but it's a big leap to me. Today I want to thank Cate Masters for mentioning my release on her blog. She so generous to other authors with her time. I'm also going to have the privilege of doing a book signing with Cate in February but more about that next week. Thanks, Cate.

Two friends, Misty and Victoria, of my from our local branch of RWA collude on a wonderful blog called The Whole Shebang Site. They highlight more than books, hosting artists and musicians also. They invited me today to share some of what I've learned about blogging. So many of my regular visitors here are the mentors who have taught me how to make this social media not only work for me but how to keep it going without blogging becoming a burden instead of a benefit. I hope you'll go over to The Whole Shebang Site and leave a comment. If it's a place you might like to guest, feel free to inquire of them.

Having friends who so graciously and willingly step up to help is what keeps me warm inside. Doesn't do much to keep my hands and feet warm though. I hope you all have someone to keep you warm during cold and dreary times.

So have you had to spend time outside and endure these frigid temps? Have you heard of The Whole Shebang Site? How about Cate Masters? Do you or your loved one suffer from cold hands and feet?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Visit Me

Today I have the honor of being interviewed on Patricia C. Lee's blog. She asks lots of interesting questions about characterization. Most writers create their characters' traits and build their back story long before we put the first words on the page. Pat's questions led me deep into the ideas behind my latest book, The Marine's Heiress.

I hope you'll stop by Pat's blog and leave a comment. And check out the special sale my publisher has going on to promote The Marine's Heiress with an exclusive offer only on the NCP website.

Do you know Pat? Do you do a character bio before you start writing? Ever have to change it up a little as the story progresses?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Exciting Times

Do you know what time it is? Sign up Time! Yes, today is the first day you can sign up for the 2014 A to Z Blogging Challenge. Hundreds of bloggers have posted at one time or another, describing all the benefits of participating in this annual challenge. I won't do that today because I try to make my posts short, and that subject would require a long, long post. By the time most of you read this, my name will be on that list.

I'm also thrilled to be a minion this April, serving the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh. I've been issued a special badge. How cool is that? I'm not sure of my minion duties yet, but I'm ready and excited. And thanks to Alex for mentioning my newest release on his blog. If you go there, make sure you read up on his 2K followers giveaway contest.

And that is the last of my exciting news. The Marine's Heiress is now available in an exclusive release sale. For only a few days, you can purchase it from their website for a 30%
discount. Recon Marine Vin takes his broken heart and shattered trust and dedicates his life toward vengeance. His final prey is within his grasp when the woman he's using as bait reminds him of his duty, his honor and dares him to risk his heart again. But the enemy Vin hunts has forces at his disposal more powerful than even a Recon Marine has faced before. Vin will need every skill his genetic superiority grants him to stop the violent events he set in motion.

Are you a past participant in A to Z and are you signing up this year? Do you want to be a minion also? Are you making plans for any blog challenges or hops in the coming weeks?

Friday, January 24, 2014

And Then There Were Two

My first science fiction romance book, The Marine's Queen, amazed me last year with its bestseller status that it held onto for a few months. It really pumped me up and inspired my writing. My publisher is running a special sale this week on The Marine's Queen in anticipation of the release of the second book.

The Marine's Heiress, Book #2 of The Recon Marines, takes up the story of Vin. If you read the first book, you know who Vin is. At the end of the first book, Vin left his marine brothers, alone in his anger and need for revenge. The second book will delve further into the origins of the genetically enhanced soldiers and the people responsible for their creation and downfall. Can there be a happily ever after for a man who believes his one chance at a normal life has been lost? You can do some early purchasing here, getting the ebook at my publisher's special price.

How about a chance to score a great prize. Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh is closing in on the 2,000 follower mark on his blog. Can you imagine? In his usual generous way, Alex is going to celebrate by giving a prize to his followers. Check out the contest on his blog. The contest is open until the magic number is reached.

Also, check out Cate Master's latest release over at her blog. I wish I could write as quickly as Cate. How does her head not burst with all the unique ideas she comes up with?

My weekend will be tied up entertaining a special out of town guest, my lovely sister, and getting promo ready for The Marine's Heiress. What are you up to this weekend? Can you imagine 2K followers? Don't forget to sign up for A to Z on Monday.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

10 Things on my List

I made a list. If you missed Monday's What Works online marketing symposium, you missed the chance to make your own list. But you can still check out all the wonderful, helpful posts by following the links here. So what did I jot down as things I want to investigate further and perhaps use to help me with promotion.

#1. I'm going check out the Amazon Paperback giveaway program that I have never heard of before.
#2. I'm going to some of my friends about doing a group giveaway instead of going solo on it.
#3. I'm going to take advantage of the Goodreads Author's programs.
#4. I have a short list of review sites I wasn't aware of and will check out.
#5. I'm going to experiment with changing and updating tags for my books on Amazon.
#6. I can't decide about Facebook ads. There was so much conflicting experience on the helpfulness of those.
#7. I found a few new blogs to follow, made some connections on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
#8. I have to think about using Wattpad.
#9. I'm going to 'use' my online friends more to help me promote my work.
#10. I'm going to do more reviews for my friends' books.

I have much more detail written on my cute little notepad, enough to keep my allotted marketing time filled for the next month. I hope the symposium was a beneficial for others as it was for me.
Let me thank this fine foursome for putting it all together. I hope they do it again next year.
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Arlee Bird
Jermey Hawkins
Yolanda Renee

Did you participate? What was one thing you learned? How does my list look?

Monday, January 20, 2014

What Works: Online Marketing Symposium

Please join me and many other writers in sharing today. Thanks to these fine people for organizing the What Works: Online Marketing Symposium, Arlee Bird, Yolanda Renee, Jeremy Hawkins and Alex J. Cavanaugh. Find the entire list of participants on their blogs and prepare some pen and paper to take notes. A special thank you to all of them. 

“On event day you tell us about a marketing idea that you've used and what worked or didn't work. Your post could describe a campaign that succeeded in a big or small way or one that failed drastically. Tell us about a business campaign, an organizational event, a fundraiser – anything where a bit of promotion was necessary!”

One thing I had success with in the past but not recently has been in person book signing. When my first fantasy novel came out, The Keepers of Sulbreth, I scheduled numerous in person book signings at Borders and Barnes and Noble. I sold out at my first three signings which was nerve wracking and exciting at the same time. Since Borders closed, replaced by BAM, I haven't had any signings in the big retail stores. I have attended numerous signings in small independent stores and at other venues like coffee shops. With one exception, I've had very poor results for those hours spent smiling and acting as store greeter. I am doing a group signing at a flower shop near Valentine's day, but I really feel that in person book signings aren't worth the time or the expense of purchasing numerous print copies of your own book.

What has worked for me? I find Facebook updates, of the right kind, result in an uptick in my sales. What are the right kind in my experience? The ones where I am promoting but not as blatantly as saying 'buy my book.' Links to reviews, blog posts, interviews or just being mentioned somewhere. For instance, Awesome Gang, posted this interview of me where I talk about the inspiration behind First Dragon. Are the upticks making me rich? No, but being active on Facebook does seem to help my book sales. But Facebook is free though they have paid avenues you can try to expand the reach of your posts. I've heard good and poor reports on doing that.

The results I write about above are only own and not indicative of others' experiences. I'm looking forward to seeing what I'll learn today from the other bloggers. Please visit them all.

What are your experiences with book signings? Are they worth the time and effort? Do you believe Facebook is a good promo option? Have you tried their paid options? Is Twitter a better time option than Facebook?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Coffee Hop

If you don't frequent the blog of Michael Di Gesu you are missing out. Besides being one of the kindest, most generous bloggers I've met in my writing life, he also entertaining and creative. His latest creative endeavor, The Coffee Blog Hop, fits right into one of my favorite things. COFFEE!

Late last night, I finished the final read through of the galleys for The Marine's Heiress, due to be released shortly. Time was critical as my publisher was running a bit behind. Coffee helped me through it. But Michael's idea for the hop called for bloggers to share a story about coffee. I'm sure there will be a lot of amusing and entertaining stories related to coffee but this wondrous group but I really can't think of a specific coffee story.

I will share a few lines about my coffee history. In my pre-writer life, I was a PE teacher. That meant I spent a lot of time outdoors in the cold and damp. I wasn't a coffee drinker going into that career though I chipped into the coffee fund for the lounge. I started getting cups of hot coffee during my planning period just to wrap my hands around a hot cup. At some point I started sipping it and that led me to today when I drink it every day. Probably the only extended time when I've given up coffee since those early days was during my four pregnancies and the months I nursed my children after their births. It was torture during that time to smell that wonderful brew but deny my love. I've never had a cup of decaf, now or then. I'm one of those people who can drink coffee at 10 pm and still fall asleep at eleven.

Thanks, Michael, for this chance to write and read about my favorite all day, any weather beverage. Michael is giving out a special, delicious prize. Check out the rest of the participants and that prize.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Name of the Day

At the end of the year I always purchase a new planner. This year I bought The Old Farmer's Almanac Planner as I mentioned in a previous post. It has so many interesting and cute little tidbits on every page. Today is a day of the full moon, or as the Almanac tells me, Full Wolf Moon. I just had to look that up.

Research told me how Native Americans gave the full moon each month a different name, tracking the year and seasons by those names. In January, in the midst of winter, when the wolves roamed hungry through the wilderness, their howls would fill the night skies. Therefore, it was the Wolf Moon during those lean times. The link to the Farmer's Almanac gives the names of the other full moon names.

Full Wolf Moon sounds more fun than January which is named after the Roman god of the doorway, Janus. Maybe these things like how names come about catch my interest because I write fantasy and science fiction. World building is a big part of my preliminary planning for each series. Part of world building is all that naming and even deciding if there is a moon or more than one. And what are the moon cycles? Does it appear every night? How long are days? I'm getting ready to dive into my last Recon Marine novel, the second draft, and a lot of these questions came into play. To have a moon and moonlight or not?

Also from my planner this week. Did you know cats have 32 muscles in each ear? Or that coconut oil is good for chapped lips?

Do you ever think about where the names of the months came from? If you world-build do you make you days and other time frames similar to our world? Are you going to check out the Wolf Moon tonight?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Back in the Swing

For those of you with college age children or those who aren't so far beyond the college years, you know those winter breaks fly by. As of today, both my college children are back at their respective schools, Penn State and Boston University, and getting back in the swing of learning. I don't even have to add I hope to that because I know they'll both work hard. Their absence also means my house has settled back into calm and quiet, with a thin coating of empty.

My son is starting his last semester at PSU and has two required courses he put off until this late date. One of them he is taking as an online course. Sign of the times that a student attending such a huge university would seek out such a course with no face to face meetings. It led me to think about all the online education available out there for free.

RWA, of which I'm a member, offers a plethora of offerings having to do with anything you need to learn about this business. My own local chapter, CPRW, offers inexpensive classes for our members. The other writer's group I belong too, offers online courses at very inexpensive rates. It's amazing what is out there. The website, IWSG, has links to so many places where a writer, new or experienced, can find help and encouragement. It's very different from when I started.

The very first conference I went to was at Penn State University and run by one of their departments. I think it was the first time I considered myself a professional writer. Since them I've been to numerous conferences and also attended a few one day workshops. One day workshops are a little more difficult to come by these days. Now such courses are offered online. It saves everyone gas money but also the expense of renting a meeting area to hold the class. And they don't have to be held on a Saturday. It's smart and efficient to use modern technology, but I miss those face to face gatherings.

There is something very inspiring I get from those real people gatherings that I don't quite get from taking a class online. But the old days have to make room for the here and now, and I'm not one of those who think the old days are better than now. The holidays are over and I'm back in the swing of being a full time writer.

Speaking of online learning opportunities, next Monday is the What Works Symposium, a chance for a bunch of bloggers to share what online marketing works and what doesn't. You can sign up on the list over at Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog where he introduced this great idea along with the co-hosts, Arlee Bird, Yolanda Renee, and Jeremy Hawkins. We can all learn something and help others also.

So have you taken an online workshop? Have you led one? Are you back in the swing of things after the holidays? Are you joining What Works next Monday?

Friday, January 10, 2014

It's Everywhere

I have a new book coming out later this month, so I'm thinking about promo more than I usually do.

Marketing can be very time consuming. Actually it can be all consuming. People are faced with somewhere between 3,500 and 5,000 messages per day. Most people ignore a large portion of those. How should I make my promotional message stand out among those numbers?

I know some authors who believe flooding Facebook and Twitter with their release messages will give their book the boost it needs to standout among so many. Not my thing though I'll certainly mention it a few times.

Another avenue, of course, is to use your blog to promote. And I'll do that also. I'll include a blurb but probably not an excerpt. I'll link to one on my publisher's website in case a visitor does want to read that. But I've recently learned another anagram. TLDR.

To Long Didn't Read. We've all done it. Visited a blog and the post is so long, we skim through it or skip it all together. As part of my promotion efforts later this month I'm going to make sure I don't violate the TLDR rule of blog visitor attention length.

Do you think that number for marketing messages is accurate? Do you think the flooding of Facebook and Twitter works for promotion? Every skip or skim a blog because it's too long? Are you my friend on Twitter or Facebook?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

IWSG: Little Fish

Welcome to the first IWSG post of 2014. Alex J. Cavanaugh started this ever expanding universe of writers who converge in cyber space on the first Wednesday of every month to share insecurities and support each other in our endeavors toward literary excellence and renown. Visit more of the enlightened souls from this list.

Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist theorized that the ultimate number of meaningful relationships a person can maintain is 150. I know you're adding up people in your head right now.  Not the good doctor thinks that number is directly related to brain size. So even though the internet opens the world for us, does it expand our Dunbar numbers?

The latest numbers estimate there are over half a billion websites one can decide to visit. So my little blog here is one among many, many, many.... I'm one little fish in a great big pond. Aren't we all? As little fish, I think it's important we make our little section of the pond as nice as we can. Fill it with friends, families and colleagues. Like the people you meet on IWSG, the list and the blog.

Do you ever feel like a little fish swimming in a great big ocean? Have your ever heard of the Dunbar number and do you believe it? Do you think the internet  might expand that number? Are you ready to meet some more on this great list on other insecure writers?

Monday, January 6, 2014

What Are You Looking For?

The new year is in full swing and that mean this Wednesday will be the first post of the ever popular, informant and fun IWSG blog hop. Skipping New Year's Day was a common sense decision by the idea's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Over on the IWSG blog, I posted some more about numbers and how using them in an article title attracts interest. Stop by and give your opinion.

This past Saturday, I attended the local meeting of our local chapter of RWA and spend two hours or more listening and laughing. They really are a fun group and the energy and enthusiasm are contagious. I get the same feeling when I visit the members of the IWSG. There's so much going on there and like my local group, the members ran the gamut from multi-published to not yet published. Saturday's meeting reminded me what I'm looking for in the groups, online and physical.

First and foremost is the making contacts and friends. But I also need people who can give me advice on craft and advice from people more experienced than I am. I want to hear about conferences, marketing news, and what's happening in the professional writing world. I want to hear about the success of other writers.

Jay Noel's novel, Dragonfly Warrior is now available. Jay has created a very unique world in this first book in a series. Isn't that a great cover?

What are you looking for in writing groups? Can you name one thing you learned from an online group that has really helped you in your career? Are you ready for IWSG on Wednesday?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Are You Notable?

With my new 'take the pressure' off myself plan for 2014, I took some time to see if all the efforts I've been going to have made my social presence anything of note. This article in Writer's Digest 2014 Yearbook gave me these benchmarks along with lots of other goodies. I assume this is the author's opinion and nothing really scientific but it's interesting.

Twitter followers? You need 5,000 to be notable, 15,000 to be very notable and 50,000 is impressive.

Blog page views? 20,000/month to be notable, 100,000 to be very notable and 500,000 to be impressive.

Have a newsletter? 5,000 subscribers to be notable, 20,000 to be very notable and 100,000 to be impressive.

Have some self-pubbed books for sale? Sell 2,000/month to be very notable, 6,000 to be very notable and 15,000 to be impressive.

What did I learn from these interesting numbers? I'm not very notable. I've read some recommendations on how to make a big splash on Twitter and Facebook, a viral book campaign to up your numbers. Not something I'm comfortable with. I spend a little time each day on those two media giants and try to blog three times per week. I'm making contacts and friends, and that's enough note for me.

So do you make the notable level or perhaps you're even impressive? Do you have a newsletter or subscribe to author newsletters?

If you're not already my friend on Facebook or Twitter, I would love to connect to you there.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Better New Year

Welcome 2014 and I wish all of you a better 2014 than 2013. If 2013 was a good year for you, then I hope this one is even better. For some 2013 was the year of challenge and adversity, perhaps disappointment. To you I say Happy, Better New Year.

Last year for the A to Z challenge, my theme was based on all the things I intended to do once I left my day job and became a full time writer. An entire list of goals to make myself a better, more prolific and more profitable writer. After four months of being a full time writer I have some general reflections on what I thought were great ideas.

Firstly, I love being at home and writing every day. The only days I haven't written in the past four months have been days I was traveling. I love having that cup of coffee or hot tea at my elbow. I like wearing my fuzzy socks and slippers to my job and getting the laundry done in between scenes. It's wonderful.

But I've also found I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep up with promotion and social media. When I had the old day job, I knew I didn't have enough time to spend hours on that side of the writing life. But now I should have the time and always feel like I should be doing more. More Facebook, more Twitter, more blogging and more, more everything. It sucks a little joy from the writing experience. But a few days ago I was enjoying browsing at the bookstore, flipping through some writer magazines, when I realized how much I enjoyed the unhurried moments like that one. And I discovered my New Year's resolution.

I'm not marking down a number of pages, novels or short stories that I'm going to write. I'm not going to vow a certain amount of blogging or other social media. Instead, this year I'm going to find my comfort zone. I'm going to avoid any stress or frustration with how much social media work I do or how much promotion I get done. I'm going to be myself and not try to make myself into some media wizard. I'll take time to enjoy the stack of jigsaw puzzles I have been longing to indulge in. I'll try some of those recipes I've found on Pinterest. I'll work on my cross-stitch that I find so rewarding. I will work out most days. I'm going to find that balance between my writing job and the rest of my life. I will never live up to all the goals I set down last April in A to Z. And I think it will make my 2014 a Happy Better New Year.

Are you setting goals for next year? Was 2013 good for you? Don't forget that IWSG will post next Wednesday instead of today.