Saturday, December 31, 2011

EBOOK CRUISE 2012

The Ebook Cruise is free! In a nutshell, it is bringing together bloggers (people who reach readers) and authors for a week of fun so readers buy new books. It's a virtual book fair, where your "table" is a link (or image linked). The Ebook Cruise will be March 12-19, 2012.

So, HOW do you join? Easy, email me at eawestwrites@gmail.com.

You can do ANYTHING for the book cruise, including if you have an idea outside of what I've listed below. The idea is the main page (http://eawestwriting.com/ebookcruise) transforms into an inviting, fun location for readers, and it is advertised by all of the authors and bloggers involved (think about just 10 authors with 1,000 Twitter followers each is 10,000 people seeing the promo, and I'm aiming for no less than 30 authors involved!).

The-cheap.net is on board to advertise the event on their multitude of sites that reach Kindle and Nook readers directly. On my last event, a simple one-time mention on The-Cheap.net brought over a 1,000 hits in just an hour or two. this time around, they are a valued partner. They are also doing a very cool giveaway. As soon as I have more authors and pages set up, I will query other book blogs to see if I can't get them to participate.

Specific ways to promote your book:

There will be a Souvenir Shop all books participating will be listed, by genre.

Write a blog post about the destination your book transports readers to OR a great book you read that transported you OR a travel story you have OR so on and so on. The goal is to write something interesting that's not just BUY MY BOOK. At the bottom of your post will be your short little bio piece and links for readers to buy your book. If they like what you have to say, they will at least click to get a sample. I will be tracking links, so I can let authors know how many times people clicked on a specifc link.

Sponsor an activity. There will be a flash fiction event every night for authors and readers. ("Convince me to visit your local hometown or favorite vacation spot in 300 words or less" "Fictionalize a horrible travel experience in 300 words or less" someone experienced with flash fiction can help with prompts :)) with all participants getting a free ebook gifted through either Nook or Amazon from the author(s) sponsoring. So on the night I'm hosting, I'm responding to the prompts, encouraging people, and gift them my book. Gifting books is a great sales tool because it's a one-on-one interaction with your reader. You are personally sending them a gift through email, and can later follow up. And the type of reader who would write flash fiction I bet would write a review if encouraged to do so! :)

MADLIB: I am writing madlibs and programming the computer to do these online. I've had some success already. :) A madlib is this:
NOUN: banana
VERB: shot
ADJECTIVE: purple
WAY TO TRAVEL: horse (the reader chooses these, then the computer plugs them into a story)
On my way to the banana, my car shot a stop sign and the cop wrote me a purple ticket. I sure hope I don't miss my horse!
They are funny ways to celebrate language and I'm hoping to program them in such a way that when the reader finishes it, it shows books advertised on the bottom.... thank GOD I have a programmer for a hsuband!

TWITTER CHAT: Throughout the week, there will be twitter chats with the hashtag #ebookcruise so people can mingle :) I had thought to do this in a dedicated chat room, but I think there's added value by using established social media channels. It gets the hosting author's name out there, and helps people learn twitter. So, pretend it's March 17th 2PM-3PM EST (7 to 8 PM in UK) and I"m the host: 

EAWwrites 
Welcome to #ebookcruise chat! Where was the most exciting place you've spent St. Patty's Day?
SomeTwitterPerson 
NYC! 2005. I've never been more drunk in my life! #ebookcruise 
EAWwrites 
@Sometwitterperson UGH! Hopefully that'll be me one day, we just move to CT. But kids are a little young still! #ebookcruise 
TwitterPerson2 
St. patty's Day, what's that? I don't think we celebrate that here.... #ebookcruise 
EAWwrites 
@Twitterperson2 uh, I could see that. It's to celebrate St. Patrick, but mostly people get drunk and boast about any Irish heritage they have #ebookcruise 
EAWwrites 
@Twitterperson2 My Mom is Scotch-Irish, so I grew up with corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage every March 17th #ebookcruise 

See, it gets people talking! And an author could talk about ANYTHING. It's a great way to get readers interested in YOU. There will be many opportunities to host a Twitter Chat, and authors can choose a time convenient for them!

OTHER WAYS Got more ideas? Tell me! I'm all ears. This about fun and getting readers JAZZED to read books.

So right now, if you want to be part of the ebook cruise at all, I need to know. The next few weeks I will have specific sign ups for everyone, a list of blog posts I need to link to etc. And the BEST part about this promotion? It will be "fresh" all year round because it's not tied to a specific holiday.

There are MANY sites out there that list great reads, great reviews of books. This is different because it is meant to be a virtual event, something people actively participate in. I can't wait for March!

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last Minute Gift Guide

Bit late throwing this together: but why not?

I have a reader site. I generally only post things that appeal to readers, so I'm going to put together a LAST MINUTE GIFT GUIDE by genre for readers. If you'd like me to include your book, please just give me the title and genre, I'll pull the link.

The post will go live tomorrow morning and we can all tweet it if we so desire.

I'm thinking along the lines of $5 and $10 book groups to gift, i.e.

For the "I Read EVERYTHING" Reader in your life:

Madness Under the Mistletoe $2.99
Saffina Desforges Presents (Kindle Coffee-Break) $2.99
(another anthology, touting 13 authors for only $6!)

Etc.


A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Playing the Blame Game on Sales

"I'm not getting sales. There must be something wrong."

After you publish, it's very EASY to become obsessed with your sales. Did you sell anything last night? What about this morning? Wait, it's been 5 minutes, maybe you sold a book now? GRRRR. And your browser even REMEMBERS the site. I type "pub" and it auto-fills pubit.barnesandnoble.com. Hey, Chrome, maybe I was going to search public library, or public transportation... did you think about that?

::hangs head in shame:: Okay, I wasn't. And when I type kdp there isn't any excuse, I am stalking my sales on Amazon. It's been officially 3 months since I published CANCELLED. pph82wqaaa1vdt6 (that's my two year old's contribution to the post, I'm going to leave it. It's probably some ancient code or something that if we could only decipher, we'd know the answer to everything. Besides 42.)

So 3 months. 25% of a year. 9 books sold on Smashwords. 26 sales on Nook. 82 sales on Amazon. 2 sales on Createspace. 90 days, 119 books sold (I've sold a few more on Amazon UK, but I don't have those numbers yet as I work through Mark Williams international Digital Publishing for those rights, but it's only about 3-5 more sales). I ran a month at $.99 and a month at $2.99. Sold about the same number of books running a promotion in each time period. I'm trying out a $4.99 price point.

I auto tweet my book and friends' books, and blog posts etc. I've taken a break for the last few days (mostly because I want to overhaul the spreadsheets I'm using and I haven't had time to do that yet). In the first week of December, I had over 900 clicks on my link directly to my Amazon purchase page. 1 sale.

When you're stalking your sales, it follows that you begin making assumptions about your efforts. This is a bad plan, because there are ALWAYS variables you can't account for. Did one of your readers tell two of her friends at a play date about your book so they bought it that morning, giving you two sales, but you think it's an ad you ran on a blog that morning? See? (this is also a tenet of Total Quality Management).

I shouldn't worry about CANCELLED. The reviews are positive. I love the book, and that's what I aimed for when I chose to write a romance novel for non-romance readers. I've made major professional inroads with other authors, including a number of best sellers, and top of the line book bloggers. I'm making a name for myself as that girl who likes technology and will try to answer your question. I write a weekly column on another blog about technology, every Sunday. And I'm finally working on my next book. Not talking about my next book, WRITING my next book. I'm still in that quasi-pants it-plot it mode, where I write a handful of scenes organically, then craft a semi-permeable outline, then buckle down and jam it out. SERVED currently has about 2,000 words to its name, but it's better than 0. I also am giving co-writing a novel a try early next year, and I'm very excited about that (can't say too much more, as I might be absolute rubbish at it and the book never sees the light of day with my name on it).

I'm focusing more on making my own marketing magic. I'm organizing a major blog hop in March, and I'm partnered up with a large Nook reader community to help them on a semi-monthly basis to make fun events for their thousands of readers. I have a virtual book signing in January. I owe a blog post to the wonderful Saffina Desforges for December 24th.

But I can't waste time playing the blame game with my sales figures. Yes, I had 900 clicks on my link, but it might have been 800 authors checking my ranking (I'm guilty of that myself). Or, it might have been 400 people clicking, liking what they saw, and downloaded a sample. Only they haven't had a chance to read it yet. Or they read it and it wasn't for them (probably sparing me a 1 or 2 star review had they just purchased it).

I'm just going to keep my head down and really focus on attaining that next level of authorhood: 2 books available for purchase!!!


A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Got Picture of My Book On a Nook Color And I Don't Even Own One (yet)



Today, I raised my prices on my eBook. There are a slew of reasons that I did this, but mostly, I've never been cozy and comfortable at either $0.99 or $2.99. In many ways, there is just too much competition at those price points (in my opinion) and I don't 100% ascribe to some of the marketing messages other authors put out there when they are tooting their low pricing. Since I am also an indie author AND had the same pricing, my book would have those messages reflected back no matter what.

Pricing is another post. While I was checking to see if my new price had populated to Barnes and Noble, I stumbled on something completely cool. I typed in my book's title in the search bar, and just above the listing was an advertisement for Nooks with MY BOOK in the front! How cool is that? I'm on Mark Williams international Digital Publishing this week with a tech posting just about images and how they work. So consider this a more advanced topic guide. :)

I've tested a few titles, and the site is doing this for all Nook books. I grabbed a screenshot, edited out the surrounding web page stuff (used GIMP to select a square, then cropped to selection), and voila, I now have a photo of my book on the front of a brand new Nook tablet. I did also sharpen the image a bit as the resolution wasn't the greatest.

I've checked the Terms and Conditions of PubIt and can't find anywhere it says I can't highlight the ways Nook is marketing my book. It DOES say that BN has complete discretion to market my book any way that it sees fit, but is not required to do any marketing. Plus, as long as I'm using it to advertise my book listing on Nook, I doubt there will be any issue. Alternatively, I can go in and crop just around the Nook with my book on it, which is probably what I will do next.

If you don't have a Nook Color Tablet yet and you want to get a promotional image of your book on one, this is an easy way to do so!

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why I'm On the Fence About KDP Select

There are a number of issues with the KDP Select Lending Program that I'm nervous about. I will happily sit on the fence until I see how things shake down. Here's a few of my issues:

How the amounts are calculated...

The example given in the KDP FAQ are very generous. Only 100,000 monthly book borrowed? Only? So out of everyone with a Prime Membership, only 100,000 people will borrow a book? Sure, no problem. We'll go with it.

Then, you get a percentage of the pool of money based on the percentage of downloads you had. That math sounds amazing, as a month with fewer downloads total means you get paid MORE money. Does this make sense? Does it really make sense that Amazon is going to promote and support a program as it dwindles with $500,000 every month? What happens when only 50,000 Prime members download a book, effectively doubling the royalty paid on each download? Flip side, as the program gets more and more readers participating, you get less money per download. They're committing to investing $6 million into the royalty share pool. I'm sure more and more readers will borrow the more expensive, top titles, just like those books are the same ones always with a waiting list at your local library.

I'm concerned about the program's influence on public libraries, many of which are just now going to digital content lending. I don't like the idea of libraries having to pay authors royalties on the content they give out. I firmly believe that public libraries are a strong part of a people's culture, and that information should be available despite economic status. I don't want to see a return of commercial libraries where people pay a membership.

Second issue I have is with the likelihood that my book will be borrowed. My book is $2.99. Remember, a reader can ONLY borrow 1 book per month, or 12 books per year. I already have a hard enough time convincing readers to buy my novel instead of the three to four times more expensive NY Times Bestsellers. How am I going to convince a reader to download my cheaper title for their one book they are allowed per month when I can't even convince them to pay $3.00 for it, which they are saving by borrowing the NY Times Bestseller for free?

The exclusivity clause and allowed to make my book free for 5 days out of every 90 days also troubles me. There is already a mechanism to make your book free on Amazon with price matching. Will there be a crackdown now on authors who use this system to make their book free on Amazon? Will KDP Select, meaning your book now must be exclusive to Amazon, be the only way you can offer it for free?

In the end, I will probably not enroll my novels in KDP Select Lending. I am considering including a short story or two, that I am working on now for publication early next year. They were going to be free or $.99 anyway. I get about 30% of my total sales from B&N, and I sell my book on my personal website. I'm not giving up 30% of my income for an Amazon exclusive program....

Besides, did anyone notice that Barnes and Noble now has an indie book store?

**** I'm not the only author waiting to see how this plays out. Another thoughtful post from author Jessica Dragon Cheramie.


A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Writing Business: Getting Back on Track for 2012

I use many water references on this blog, I'm realizing. Then again,  I've lived nearly my entire life on the East Coast next to a port. My father was in the Navy and my husband is also in the middle of a naval career. But to be clear, I love to be on the water, or near the water, not so big on IN the water (I can't coordinate my breathing well enough to swim underwater).

That aside, this picture really captures how I'm feeling right now about my writing career. There's two sides to a writing career I feel - the constant, disciplined side represented by the continual waves, and the exciting, breath-taking spurts and bursts of wonderfulness.

The bursts of power and recognition come when you get that 5-star review, or wake up and see you sold 5 books while you were sleeping, instead of just one. They are thrilling, but also have a dark side. They can raise unreasonable expectations, create deep lows that make it difficult to feel motivated to work, and really make you crazy as you try to sustain the effort you perceived made it happen.

For the last two months, I was mesmerized by the spurts and bursts in my sales figures. You see, I've improved my sales every single month since I released CANCELLED in September. But lost track of the discipline that allowed the book to be written. Since 9/13/2011, I've written maybe, maybe 1,000 words on any of my new projects. But I've written thousands and thousands of words for blog posts, interviews, tweets, and other marketing endeavors. Next month, I am running a virtual book signing tour (details to be released soon), and I think that will be the end of my concentrated focus for marketing CANCELLED. After January, and four months of living in the sun, it will be time to let my other projects take the limelight.

My mother-in-law really helped me realize just how lost I was... I mentioned to her how I had sold over 100 copies of CANCELLED and this is what she said: "That's great, but we're not proud of you for how many books you sell. We're proud of you that you wrote a book." It took a few days of these words swirling in my brain for it to really dawn on me. Even I'm not really that impressed with other people's sales numbers. I'm not. I'm more impressed with their portfolio of writing. And no one writes novels in a sudden burst (at least not that I know about), they write them with the other side of water; the constant discipline represented by the waves.

I have to use two strategies to keep my wayward focus in line.

1) Never have enough time.

I wrote CANCELLED in 30 minute increments with an 18-month-old under foot, after I had my complete outline drafted. She's now 2.5 years old. I work best under some type of pressure. Nothing insane, but I don't do very well when I don't have a jam packed schedule. When I only had 30 minutes to write, I used every one of them. Now that I have larger blocks, I find myself more and more distracted because I'm the Queen of "I have plenty of time to do this...later."

My husband and I have finally come to a compromise about me going back to work. I was initially hoping that we could get through this lean year of greater expenses due to the move and still owning a home in SC, but it's not a good idea to live so precariously, financially. Instead, I will be looking for a job in January and putting my youngest into daycare for the first time. This was very tough, but hopefully it will only be for a year or so. I'm also hopeful it will give me more time to write. Confused? if I have less time to write, it will become more precious. I won't waste the hours that I have, instead I will be looking for a way to unwind, which is what writing always is for me.

The goal is for me to only need to work for one year, and to hopefully have enough content out available for sale that the small royalty checks will let us enjoy a little extra income, but not rely on my continuing to work. My hope is that my daughter will be in daycare for about a year, stay home with me for a summer, then start preschool one or two days a week when she's 4. (My friend's son went ballistic at that age when she had to pull him back out of daycare at 3.5 to stay home, so it will be  happy medium I think. I WANT to enjoy as much time with my daughter as I can).

2) To-Do Lists.

I love preparation. Preparation is probably my favorite part of ANY project. In light of my going back to work in three weeks, I need to get done what DOES take me enormous amounts of time to do. I will have weekends, and evenings, but there are a few projects on my plate that would benefit from longer hours of attention.

  • My reader website. Oh, it's pathetic. It's there, but I need to give it far more TLC than I have. 
  • Two new sites I am working on for my international publisher. One is an estore, the other an interface for authors to upload files for publishing. I'm using my two favorite CMS engines, Wordpress and Drupal. 
  • Fine-tune my social media presence. I will have a shorter time period to work with, so my interactions will need to be very focused. I won't be able to just sit on Twitter.
  • Get my projects outlined. If I'm going back to writing in 30 minutes at a time, and I am, then I need clear outlines for the projects I want to get done next year. Things still happen spontaneously in my writing, but having the outline prevents me from staring at a blank page. It might be the non-fiction writer in me from years and years of essays. But even just a simple goal for a scene, or a few details is all I need to work my magic.
I know this is a very personal blog post, but I've been rereading some of my earlier blog posts from last year, back before I had any followers. It's been very inspiring to see just how far I've come as a writer and I'm looking forward to reaching new destinations, not necessarily heights, in the New Year.

How about you? How is YOUR writing business going? Are you making adjustments for 2012? Share them below!



A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Sirens 1: Derek Blass and Enemy in Blue

Working together is vital for indie authors. We can't waste energy on worrying about competing with each other, books are disposable entertainment, not a zero-sum game (meaning most readers do not have the attitude of only buying/reading a certain number of books but rather plan to eventually read all books that interest them).


I am elated to support the authors and readers of police and crime dramas in this year's Holiday Sirens blog tour. Today, I am hosting author Derek Blass and his book Enemy in Blue. Derek is not only an author, he is also a top lawyer in the Denver, Colorado area. Perhaps the fact that he lives the everyday aspect of criminal justice is why his debut novel has 34 5-star rankings!! Enemy in Blue takes a different look at the tough topic of police brutality and is a novel you don't want to miss.


Here's more about Derek:




How did you come up with the title?


That's a fun question.  There was one working title, that ended up not working by the time the book was done.  Things change, A LOT, over the course of writing a book!  Once it was apparent that a new title was necessary, I enlisted my wife and some of my readers to help me find a new title.  Through countless brainstorming sessions, one of my readers came up with "Evil in Blue."  I liked it, but not 100%.  I was grabbing the mail one day, and "Enemy in Blue" just came to me.  Funny how things happen!

Have you dealt with questions regarding whether the book is "anti-cop?"


Definitely.  And, it should be noted, the book is not anti-cop at all.  It is anti-bad cop.  Naturally, not all, or even the majority of cops, are bad.  Unfortunately though, something we're seeing more and more of as the proliferation of smart phones and phones with recording devices continues, are increased instances of police brutality.  That's really what drove me to write the book.  

Is the book based on real life events, or taken strictly from your imagination?


Again, unfortunately, the book derives from some real life events that are fictionalized for purposes of the book.  If people are interested in learning more about the underpinnings of some scenes in the book, they should Google "Frank Lobato," "Juan Vasquez," "Michael DeHerrera," and "Marvin Booker."  Throw in "DPD" for good measure.  These are all instances of police brutality that have taken place in Denver in the last six or so years.  I explain to people, without me moving to Denver, and without these incidents, Enemy in Blue likely would not have happened.  Now, my book is not historical fiction, so much of what is written is completely from my imagination!

What was the biggest artistic influence on your book?


As to writing style, has to be Don Delillo.  I have read everything he has written, and am always captivated by how he writes.  As to what I see in my head, and what I want to get down on paper?  Tarantino (the movie director) has a huge impact on me.  I think that he does a near-perfect job of blending visuals, action and music together, and I aspired to create something as thrilling as one of his movies in Enemy in Blue.

How did you choose your genre?Hard to explain, but I can see action in my head.  Fight scenes.  Car chases.  Torture, kidnapping, etc.  (Honestly, I'm not a violent guy in real life!)  It was as natural to me to write thrillers with a heavy dose of action as it would be for Christopher Moore to write cheeky fiction.

What inspired you to be a writer?


I've written a lot since I was young, and started on many novels but never followed through to finish one.  It's really a labor of love, and with a full-time job that I am committed to (attorney), it takes substantial discipline to keep writing.  That being said, there is nothing more beautiful than writing a story, or more appropriately put, to having characters write a story for you.  When I write, I'm just as surprised by their decisions as my readers.  My characters drive my story and that is an amazing aspect of writing that everyone should try!  If people are interested, I started a blog on writing a while back (www.derekblass.wordpress.com) that describes many of the fun, and tedious, nuances of writing.

With all the other thrillers out there, why buy Enemy in Blue?


It's a no nonsense book, full of action and entertainment.  I wrote the book for my readers, not for myself.  I promise that you will be captivated by the action over the course of the book.  At the same time, the book invites you to be introspective on issues of illegal immigration, police brutality, and political corruption.  It's not just mind candy, but it's also not a book that will club you over the head with principles.  From a purely cost/benefit analysis, both versions of the book are very competitively priced, and the Kindle version is less than a dang cup of coffee at Starbucks!  I promise it will deliver more lasting enjoyment than that cup of joe!

Sequel possible?


Oh, yeah!  I'm working on a book that involves several of the same characters right now--and I'm trying to get it done soon because I've got a new family member coming to our family in February!

***

Well a HUGE congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Blass. Having a two-year-old myself, I can honestly say you're in for the best roller coaster ride of your life. It's got many highs and lows and lasts forever, but seems to move far too fast at the same time. 




 Please check out Enemy in Blue and when you like it, be sure to tell a friend or two! :)


Enemy in Blue is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Pick up your copy today or make it a gift for the crime thriller enthusiast in your life.






A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's the End of the Year As We Know It

It's the end of the year as we know it.... and I feel MORE than fine! :)

The WoMen's Literary Cafe is putting together an awesome promotion for the end of the year? Ready? A timeline of the highs and lows of the year for indie authors.

If you have something you think should be on the timeline, let us know! You can either send me a message OR if you'd also like to list your book in the promotion, there is a place for you to contribute on the form. I will include a link and submitted by for any item someone suggests that we use. :) I am so excited for the network of authors that are participating. The social media reach on this promotion is going to be enormous!

In addition to the Year of the Indie event, there's another new marketing tool available that I'm very proud of: Read and Review. One of the first things Melissa Foster ever did for me, and I still have no idea why I am so blessed to have had this happen, was write every one of HER reviewers and introduce me and my book. Now did all 30 jump to review an unknown author? Um...no. Some had too full of a schedule already, others were interested in other genres (my book is not quite the same genre as hers). But 5 of them responded right away that they would review CANCELLED. Not knowing my head from my you know what, I wrote interviews and guest posts and had great coverage for a brand new book.

The question became how could we set up a system where the books are not only put up for the WLC Review Team to consider, but also encourage sales and readers to review? Starting in January 2012, the solution goes into action. Authors can pay $25 for a full week of promotion on the site, towards the end of the month. The books will be presented as the group of books currently being read by the WLC Review Team, and we encourage our savvy WLC readers to give the books a go and leave their own reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and B&N. It's reminding readers they have a voice and we want to hear it. It's making the ASK, something authors can't always do when selling their book. Books that are part of the monthly Read and Review program will be given to our reviewers (that are vetted to make sure they are legitimate reviewers, not just someone who wants a free book) for consideration. We can't guarantee every book will get a review, but we can promise that it's at least seen. For new authors, it can be very tough to query reviewers and get into the seemingly endless line of books ahead of yours.

Finally, the end of this year also sees me moving up to the next level of blogging in my mind. Sundays will be all things technology on both Mark Williams International starting Dec. 4th and in January on the WLC!!! Me. Little brand new author has this amazing opportunity to reach so many new readers AND network with other authors of a grand caliber. I am still stunned. I feel like that completely star-struck kid who got a back stage pass to her favorite band in the world.

I have a great deal of work ahead of me, but I wouldn't have it any other way. :) Did I mention I've sold  38 books in November? That brings me to 120 total copies of CANCELLED purchased. :) I know I don't sell as much as some, but I'm very proud of 120 copies sold since 9/13/2011!!!

And I have even more up my sleeve! :) Stay tuned for my End of the Year To-Do List.


A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Automating Tweets 101

This topic is not without controversy. But it's time we talk about it. I look at Twitter for TWO types of comunication: active and passive. Active is when Twitter works like an impromptu chat. You and someone else are tweeting back and forth by adding each other's twitter names, like @EAWwrites. This is handy and very valuable to make deeper connections with the people on your following list.

Example:

 Elizabeth Ann West 

 Great job!!! a Nanowrimo winner!

 Angie Richmond 

@ 

 YAY!! Thanks so excited!!



Here is where the line gets blurred. Twitter saves your mentions (@EAWwrites) into a separate stream, so you could stretch out a twitter conversation over hours or even days, like a correspondent chess game. :)

Passive communication is another key component of Twitter. People read your tweets and links you share and the only participation they give is maybe clicking on the link. If they don't like your tweet, they ignore it. There is really very little pain on the part of the follower because if they don't like too many of your tweets, they'll just stop following you. Another form of passive communication is the RT (retweet). Someone likes what you tweeted or liked the link so he or she clicks Retweet and the tweet now goes out to all of their followers with your name and RT in front. RT'ing requires 0 interaction with you.

Automating tweets requires you keep both of these concepts in mind.


  • Don't just automate tweets that require a link click. Tweet out quotes, ideas, comments, jokes, etc. Then go back during the day and RESPOND to any replies you get (they will be in your Mentions stream). 
  • Write tweets with space for a good RT. Aim for about 100 characters including the link.
  • Shorten your links manually so you can track how many clicks you get to judge tweet effectiveness.
  • Space out your automation. If you have 4 tweets go out at 7 AM, you have just spammed all of your followers' streams because a clump of nothing but your tweets just showed up. People ignore these. Only do this if the Tweets cleverly link to one another and are intended to be read together.
  • Use automation to reach audiences at times you aren't available. I use a timezone chart to make sure I advertise my UK book link at peak times in the UK (which is +5 hours for me, so Good Morning UK goes out at 2 AM my time). 
  • Consider a tweet series. I'm experimenting with a Tech Tips series, where one goes out each hour. If it proves popular, I might space it out throughout the week maybe one each 2 or 3 hour window. Others use quotes etc.
  • Start slowly. Test the waters. Try tweeting a book link once every few hours.
  • Remember, most people do not sit on Twitter all day, but only visit for 10-15 minutes at a time. They get a snapshot of their streams, so make sure you tweet often enough to get noticed once in awhile, but not so much they dislike you.
I use Hootsuite to automate my tweets. I pay $5 a month and can automate up to 200 tweets at a time. Once I make the spreadsheet, I save it as a simple CVS file, with quotation marks around cell data, and comma delimited. Then, using their bulk uploader, I upload the file, up to 50 tweets at a time.

I have a master spreadsheet that I use for my tweets, so I have three tabs that say Book1, Book2, Book 3.  In the first column of each sheet is the time formatted correctly: 26/11/2011 16:25. I have the entire column alternate days and times. I set aside the top of the hour :00 and :25 for links of my book to go out, but it's every other day. So, this is how it looks like:
27/11/2011 01:00
28/11/2011 01:25
27/11/2011 02:00
28/11/2011 02:25

This goes from 1 AM until 11:25 PM. Over two days, that's 46 tweets, or 23 per day of my book link going out. Since I began doing this about three weeks ago, I see 1-2 sales of my book per day. I also get RTs of these tweets and new followers. 

The second column on my spreadsheet is for the actual tweet. I used Data Validity to limit the column to 100 characters. If I go over, a popup let's me know it's invalid, too long. I try to keep it below 100 characters so there is room for the URL on the end. I use hashtags and a variety of ways to talk about my book. 
  • Some tweets are little synopses. "She returned his shirt and ruined his life." "He's becoming a dad, but his fiancee isn't pregnant!" 
  • Some include my selling point. "Romance from a male POV" "Chicklit from a male POV" "Guys fall in love, too! Read Johnathan's story." 
  • I quote my reviews. “A little soap opera drama mixed with a great chick lit story..." "Nerdy is hot. Science is fun. I'm so glad to read about intelligent, creative people in this novel!"
  • I make the ask (this is sales 101). "On lunch break? Why not read the sample of CANCELLED on Amazon on the Cloud? Romance from a guy's POV." "Nothing beats a good book in the afternoon. Try CANCELLED, a light romp with romance from the guy's POV. #Nook"
  • And some are just quirky: "Moms never get the remote!"
My third column is for my link. ABSOLUTELY put your link through bit.ly or another link shortener BEFORE you let your tweet automater do what it's going to do to it. For example, the link to my book on Nook is 
http://bit.ly/CNXnook  
Now hoot suite turns this link into a hoot shortened link, but bit.ly still tracks the clicks. I can see exactly how many clicks this link gets every single day in the bit.ly interface, where it's being referred from and what country the IP address is (this is VERY handy for my UK links). It will even show me what hour the link was clicked, so I can get an idea of which tweets are most effective (it's still a guess, a tweet from 3 hours ago could get a click). 

Automating tweets is a little like fishing, each tweet is a different lure/bait. You can set all the lines you want (well, as many as your tweet automater will allow) but you have to go back and check the lines. This means you analyze the data that the computer will track for you (using link shorteners) and you MUST go back and interact with the people who interacted with your tweet. If they replied, you reply back. Courteously. If they RT'd, don't just thank them, go to their profile and RT one of their tweets! It takes an extra 5 seconds, if that. 

You can't just be a robot on Twitter though. Every single day you have tweets automated you need to spend some time on there being a real person. Responding, replying, participating in fun hashtags, etc. If all you ever do is send out links and non-helpful tweets, you won't get the quality followers that will expand your reach even more with RT's and replies.



A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

There is NO Amazon $.99 Pricing Loophole

There is a nasty rumor in regards to pricing on Amazon to game the system. It's basically showing that self-published authors ARE NOT READING WHAT THEY AGREED TO when they published with Kindle Direct Publishing and if their friend jumps off a bridge, they will go right after them. Ready? Here's how the rumor goes: 

"Guess what? We can make 70% on the $.99 price on Amazon. Here's what you do. Price your Amazon book at $2.99 or above, click 70% option, then go to Barnes and Noble and put your price at $.99. Amazon will match, making it look like your book is a huge deal, AND they will pay you 70% of the $.99 they sell the book for!"

Okay, before we get into why you CAN'T do this, think about it. Would Amazon really leave such a loophole open not in their favor? Probably not. And guess what? They DIDN'T. Authors who are doing this directly violate the KDP Terms and Conditions, specifically the Pricing Page (ref. in 5.3.1 of the Terms and Conditions) Provision Number 4 which states:

4. Setting Your List Price

You must set your Digital Book's List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book. 

But if you choose the 70% Royalty Option, you must further set and adjust your List Price so that it is at least 20% below the list price in any sales channel for any physical edition of the Digital Book. 

By "list price in any sales channel," we mean the suggested or recommended retail price or, if you sell your book directly to end users, your own sales price, for an edition of the book available outside of our Program. 
I am seeing many authors pulling this stunt, some I once thought were ethical and smart business men and women. No longer. Your true colors are shown to me. You are not reading the clearly worded print of the agreements you have made, and you are purposely defrauding Amazon. Remember, when you self-publish, YOU are the publisher. You set your price.

Now if Barnes and Noble decided to discount your sales price, without your approval (which BOTH Amazon and Barnes and Noble have the right to do at any time, read your Terms and Conditions), THEN you would rightfully get 70% of the sales price when Amazon matched it. But Barnes and Noble is not mass reducing all of the indie books to $.99, and when it comes to Amazon wondering about your integrity, I doubt they err on the side of the author. I certainly wouldn't want to be banned from Amazon's KDP for violating their Terms and Conditions, which is exactly what these authors are risking. Read Section 3 of the Terms and Conditions, they can terminate or suspend you at any time, at their discretion.


********UPDATE 11/18 1:24 PM **********
A phone conversation with an Amazon KDP representative confirmed that it is against the Terms and Conditions to abuse price matching and that there is a mechanism to monitor and adjust for abuse. Authors caught abusing the price matching system would be removed. Price matching for FREE is not included in this provision as there is no royalty paid to the author. Authors may use price matching to make their book FREE on Amazon. 




A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ebook Marketing Build Up : Going Over the Waterfall

I'm sleep-deprived, coffee-reliant, and my head is spinning. Hmmm. Guess I've finally made it as an "author." LOL.
Waterfalls are interesting things. They don't generally start off as that big magnificent force of nature. No, they often start as a trickle, followed by another trickle. Then some more of the water thinks, "Hey, that's a good place to flow" and pretty soon like a high-school party when the parents are away, there's this raging, gushing monster ready to take out anything in its path. As authors, this waterfall is marketing, and you better start building your dam to control it at the very first trickle!

My marketing trickles are beginning to pool and cascade in a mini-waterfall. I am so proud to say I'm averaging 1-2 copies sold per day. No idea if it will stop tomorrow, but I hope it keeps growing. And I have a plan to build the momentum, but it's not for the faint hearted....

First, starting December 4th, I will be a regular blogger for both the WLC and Mark Williams International on Sundays. :) I'm going to be covering all things techy. At the bottom of every post will be links to my book, and this is awesome weekly exposure to a ton of new readers.

Second, I am working on my Twitter presence. I use automated tweets to share links of my books, ask questions, and reach out to other authors. I don't spam, but I'm using technology to help me balance being present online and still taking care of my kids. So far this has translated into sales, and followers.

Third, I need to revamp my reader site. It's starting to get some traffic and I need to redo it. The purple and white isn't working for me anymore.

Fourth, I need to work on linking and keeping track of all of my clips. What's a clip? Why all of those blogs and websites I've been interviewed, reviewed, or guest posted on. :) I need to create a master listing on my reader site with all of them, before the number gets so large that I'm daunted. See? Building the dam.

Finally, I NEED to write my next book. Right now, my sales are phenomenal to me. They are. But I would love when someone tells me how much they loved CANCELLED to be able to say "Check out SERVED." It's looking like June of next year before I will be able to say that.

So here's to building up to that waterfall of mentions, tweets, and books flying off the virtual shelf. I'm raising my cup of tea because today is a no coffee day. But I want to make sure I'm riding over the top of my waterfall in something a little more thought out than a rickety old barrel!

How are you building YOUR dam to manage your waterfall? Leave a comment below and I will respond!

Check out CANCELLED on TakeTimeforMommy.com She is running a great promotion where one lucky reader will win a Kindle Fire and a copy of every book listed between now and Dec. 1!

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED Two never married parents fight over their toddler's upbringing and moving on with their lives, without each other;(status: outlining)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

#ROW80 CheckIN and Twitter Went Beserk

#ROW80 check in: I have the beginning of a Storyboard in Writer's Cafe 2 for SERVED! I have a beginning and I have an ending! YES! SOO thrilled! Friday is all day writing day! I can't wait to write my first tone setting scenes (part of my process of outlining is to free write a couple of scenes from random places in the book).

Now, Twitter, what the heck is up with you? If you haven't noticed, Twitter has added new functionality to your HOME area. From talking with my friends, not everyone has received the update, and PLENTY of people have lost people they were following. I lost an entire GROUP of very important friends that I regularly coordinate tweeting and retweeting with! So be on the lookout for your followers, make sure your core people are still there.

That said, I LOVE the added functionality of ACTIVITY. I use Refollow.com to help find people I'm interested in following. I do NOT mass follow hundreds of people. Instead, I use tailored searches and criteria to find 10-25 new people everyday to connect with. It's very quick, takes about 15 minutes per day and I find it's causing my followers to grow by just as many people if not more (and not just the people I'm following).

How do I connect? Well, I quickly RT one of their tweets I see with a link or I write a quick reply to one of their recent Tweets. This helps cement the acquaintance better than a canned DM. And I learn tons of new things by doing this! And I usually get a RT in kind, plus one or two of THEIR followers notices their friend just tweeted someone, so they end up following me too. Now I just go into @EAWwrites feed and see who followed me and follow them right back!

The new ACTIVITY feed also makes it easy for me to see when someone follows someone else, so I can easily keep up with my friends' friends. This is very important for our line of work.

What parts of the new Twitter functionality do you love/hate? Leave it below in the comments!


WLC NEWS
The WoMen's Literary Cafe is growing exponentially! Next week or so, I hopefully will have an exciting announcement to help more authors really harness Twitter as their social marketing go-to tool. It won't be just a tutorial, but about some of those very tenets I mention above about connecting with other people on Twitter.


But we have other news.


On November 16th, 20 blogs will be hosting a WLC Authors Give Back blog hop. What's that? Free ebooks? Yep. Readers will be able to go blog to blog to blog and load that Kindle, Nook, or iPad just in time for long airline flights to family feuds with concessions (Happy Thanksgiving, everyone). There are a few #ROW80 bloggers taking part, so hopefully, next Thursday we can help our fellow #ROW80 people out by driving traffic. :)


If you'd like to help right now, I'd love anyone who can add a tweet or two to their daily send out:


#WLCAuthorsGiveBack #Bloghop 20 blogs, 20 authors, get your #free #ebooks Nov. 16 in time for the long holiday weekend!

Nov. 16 the #WLCAuthorsGiveBack Over 20 blogs offering #free #ebooks just in time for some holiday reading. Stay tuned!

And finally, the WLC is putting together our schedule for future book launches. If you are at all interested in having a book launched next year by the WLC OR participating in the book launch as a supporting title, book reviewer, blogger, Tweet Team, please join the WLC and fill out the following form. Only WLC members can submit and all of the information will be held on file. We are scheduling only a few months in advance, so if you aren't 100% sure for later in the year, that's okay, just let us know if you might be interested.  There is a mention of fees, but I can tell you these are not sell a kidney to pay for it promotions. Fees will be nominal to make sure an author is committed and invested in supporting the promotion, and to cover the costs of any ads the book launch group chooses to pay for (a $180 ad on high traffic site is much easier for authors to agree to if they only need to pay $18 a piece for exposure in front of tens of thousands of readers, see?).

The link is at the top of the WLC home page, labeled BOOK LAUNCH SIGNUP or this is the direct link (will not work if you are not logged into the site).
http://womensliterarycafe.com/content/book-launch-sign-form

BTW, I'm still getting sales from the book launch we ran Nov. 1 through the 3rd.

A robotics engineer asks his business partner to marry him, but a previous one-night stand is having his baby. CANCELLED is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords WIP: SERVED A single father moves on with his life as his child's mother tries to keep him back. (status: outlining)


SO PROUD of the growth in A ROUND OF WORDS IN 80 DAYS. PLEASE give these authors some comment love as they are just kicking butt and taking names!