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? 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.


 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 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  
Now hoot suite turns this link into a hoot shortened link, but still tracks the clicks. I can see exactly how many clicks this link gets every single day in the 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 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 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!

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).

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!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

#ROW80 A Little More Publisher/Marketer Not Enough Writer

This week I've firmly worn my Publisher and Marketer hats while my Writer hat sat in the closet, gathering dust. My Trick or Treat promotion brought over 300 visitors to my author site. And about 10 sales each on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Yes. Each. Then I had the first ever WLC Book Launch that celebrated the release of Melissa Foster's COME BACK TO ME. My book made 18 sales in three days on Amazon, and I catapulted to the ranking high of #12,000 something.

And now I'm back to #48,000 something in Kindle Paid. :) But that's okay. I've moved my price back up to $2.99 from the sale price of $.99, and already sold one copy. This #ROW80 I'm a little adrift, as I couldn't really nail down any goals or finish lines. I have broken some bad habits, such as stalking my sales. So that's good. But I think it's time for re-evaluation.

Today is November 6th.

I want to maintain my Twitter campaign this week.

I want to finish outlining SERVED (yes I'm setback because I have changed books).

November 26th, I want ALL outlining done and writing to commence.

December 4th, I want 10,000 words.

December 18th, I want 30,000 words.

Splashing over into ROW 1 of next year, I want 50,000 words before the start, so I can finish my second book's rough draft by January 25th. Then I need to take time off, and run a few passes at editing, because I have an editor for my next book (YAY).

I am aiming for an April 2012 release. And this means I need to put writing first, marketing second.

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, November 4, 2011

#NaNoWriMo It HAS to Be Said

GO FOR IT!!!!!

Yep. I've read far too many posts by self-published authors, indie authors, and traditional authors all moaning and complaining that not just anybody can write a book.

Please. ::eye roll::

Yes, yes they can. And I say, go and do it! I've done it. I know it's not easy. If you have a story in you, write it out! If you want to have fun with NaNoWriMo, do that too! You will not, and cannot, destroy the world with your writing. Trust me.

I have restrained myself from commenting on these puffed up, pathetic excuses for cyber bullying. Everything from "you might be great at grammar but that doesn't make you a writer" to "there is an art to writing that cannot be expressed by most amateurs and takes years to craft..." and most of it is baloney. Why?

It's a grossly inaccurate comparison to start invoking art (like the painted, sculpted, or even musical varieties) with artistic productions that utilize our everyday skills. We've all been writing since we were 4. Acting? Every time we tell a lie (so more often for some). But painting? I gave up any practice at painting in elementary school and have rarely needed to send an email in watercolor to my boss. Okay, never. Never sent a musical composition as a proposal either (and I took piano for 8 years, thank you).

I want to scream on so many of these posts how downright RUDE they are being to the thousands of hopeful authors taking time out of their busy lives to give writing a shot. Maybe they DO only write for a month and never get anywhere near 50,000 words. But guess what? That person (and it would appear to be the majority of Nanowrimo participants who don't win) has a new appreciation for the work YOU did to pen that 90,000 word tome you're selling for $2.99 on Amazon. Oh, and they probably also read.

So if you're going to get on your blog, bad mouth the Nanowrimo participants and complain about the junk being published on Amazon come December, I suggest you take a VERY hard look in the mirror. Because you're right about one thing. Writing is artistic. And it's subjective. So please, get over yourself about how great you are because you've "published" and now want to look down your nose at the new crop of aspiring writers coming.

And once you pull your head out of you know where, I'll be waiting for you over here in the cheering section. And I'll even give you a noise maker. :)

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 sequel to CANCELLED. The custody situation just got real.