The Importance of Reviews

By Susette Williams

While the most common thought of using a review would be to help a customer decide whether or not to buy a product, there are other reasons for leaving a review as well. Believe it or not, writing can be a very discouraging profession. More often than not, people tend to leave reviews when they don’t like a product and are less likely to leave a review letting you know how much they do like your product, or in this case, your book.

You may have heard that musicians are moody. The truth can be said of the authors, but the reason these creative types have the ability to be moody, or have a wide array of emotions is it allows them to connect on an emotional level with the character in their book or song. That also enables them to connect with the reader or listener. For this reason, authors can often use encouragement and one way to give it, is by leaving a review of their book. While it does not take very long to leave a comment, it really does help to encourage the author when you leave a review and tell the author that you enjoyed their story, and what you liked about the story.

But what should you say in the review? It is important not to leave too much information or you may spoil the story for another reader. Tell the author what you liked, if there was a specific scene, or how the story made you feel. You want to leave just enough information that another reader can tell that you actually read the book and the author didn’t ask all of their friends and family to leave glowing 5 star reviews for them.

There has been a lot of controversy lately concerning a few authors unethical practices concerning reviews.  Principals to consider when leaving a review:

  1. You should never write reviews for your own book. Writing a synopsis, blurb, or back copy of your book is different. Reviews are generally endorsements, telling readers what you liked, or did not like, about a book. Reviews are generally left at places your book can be purchased, or in forums where book readers will read about their favorite authors’ books.
  2. You should never leave a bad review because you do not like the person or their beliefs. Also, if you have a problem with downloading a book on Kindle, Nook, etc. do not give the author a bad review. It is best to contact customer services with the place you are purchasing the book from and settle the downloading issue with them. The author has no control over this and it is unfair to rate their hard work based on problems with the distributor.
  3. It is unfair to an author if you downloaded their book as a free promo and have not bothered to check and see if the book is the type of genre you prefer to read or not. Example, if a person downloaded a book that had pornography, religious aspects or content they would find objectionable and would not intentionally set out to pay for that type of story to begin with, should not write a negative review for the book because your mindset is already against that book and its content. This is one of the downsides to offering a free book promotion—because consumers see free and then begin reading the story to only realize this isn’t their normal type of reading material. The author should not suffer because you chose something you would not normally read.
  4. A negative book review should only be left if the writing is poor, there are obvious problems with the plot, the story is inconsistent, the author didn’t check facts, etc.
  5. You should never leave negative reviews for an author because you purposely want their book to do bad. There have been some authors who leave bad reviews for competitors. When the public has found out about this type of practice, it generally will cost the unethical author sales and readers because of their attempts to manipulate consumers and their purchases.

Authors need positive reviews for encouragement and to sell books. An honest review allows readers to see what other people thought of a book and may help sway them in their decision to also purchase the book.

If an author does a book promotion, especially the free book promotions, many of the promotion sites will not carry the author’s books unless they have a set amount of reviews, and usually they must have at least a four star average rank in reviews.

The most natural place for an author to seek reviews is through customers who have purchased their books. Previous customers who have reviewed books can also be a great resource for future book reviews. Build a rapport with readers and offer them a free copy of a future book in exchange for an honest review. As a reader, you can also contact an author and offer to write a review if they will provide you with an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy).

Another place an author can solicit reviews are through Facebook groups for reviewers; or groups that connect readers, reviewers, bloggers and/or authors. Also, if you are looking for more reviews and do a special book promotion or free book promotion, whenever you post about the promotion, ask people to share the information and ask them if they would please consider leaving a review.

Always be polite and considerate, whether or not you are an author, reader, or reviewer. Consider other people’s feelings, and when leaving criticism, try to make it constructive. It also helps if you can find something positive to say, because it will help to take the edge off of negative comments.

Please take the time to show your favorite authors some appreciation by leaving them an encouraging review. It will inspire them to continue writing and sharing their stories with loyal readers like yourself!

Books by Susette Williams:

 

falling in loveMaid for Murder: Deadly Business http://ow.ly/hJKp2

Accidental Meeting http://ow.ly/fR7ft

Falling in Love (Seasons of the Heart) http://ow.ly/fR717

Winter Chill (Seasons of the Heart) http://ow.ly/fR75F

The Quakers of New Garden (New Garden’s Conversion) http://ow.ly/fR7bB

 

Books for Children:

The ‘In’ Crowd (Life With Stef) http://ow.ly/fGsul

On My Own (Life With Stef) http://ow.ly/fR7GG

 

Author Website: www.susettewilliams.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Susette-Williams/182094681851446?ref=ts&fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SusetteWilliams

 

Marketing to Readers vs Networking with Authors

KarenBaneyBy Karen Baney

As an author, I’m faced daily with the challenge of reaching out to quality readers. But, like many authors, especially in the early days of my book marketing, I found myself marketing to authors and not readers. This is fine if your book is for authors. If it isn’t, then I hope this discussion will help you understand the difference and give you ideas on how to refocus your marketing plan.

Networking vs Marketing

Every author needs a support system of other authors—people you can go to for advice about the business of writing (marketing, publishing, etc.) or the craft of writing (editing, POV, characterization, etc.). But many authors confuse the fine line of networking with authors with marketing to authors.

When you network with other authors, your mindset is about sharing information, learning from each other, and lifting each other up through cross-promotion, advice, critiquing, or whatever it is you are seeking from your peers.

Nothing frustrates me more as an author than when I join an author community and it is full of link dumping. I feel like authors are marketing to me. While I don’t mind some marketing, I prefer a community that is focused on networking with and not marketing to authors.

Link Dumping Is Spam

What is linking dumping? It’s the practice of dropping a link into a group, forum, or even on your own Facebook / G+ page with no explanation of what the link contains. If you did this in an email, your message would be marked as spam. We’ve been trained when it comes to email that we shouldn’t click on links that are in a message by themselves with no explanation. Why? Because it’s a common technique for trying to steal someone’s information or propagate a virus.

Yet, when it comes to social media, as authors, we’re using this same technique, hoping that we can draw readers to our website or our books. We don’t realize we look like a spammer.

But I’m Not A Spammer

How can we correct link dumping?

First, if you are doing it yourself, please stop. It’s okay to post links, but tell your group or fans why you are posting this link. What is contained in that page that is worthy of my time? Why should I go there? Is it an inspirational post that will encourage me today? Is it news about your new release? Is it helpful tips on how to write a better story? Is it a picture of ugly cats? What is it?!?!?!

For this blog post, here’s what I might write to introduce the link:

Have you ever thought about who you are marketing to? Are you networking with authors or marketing to them? Read more to learn about the difference and how you can change your ways.

See. Now you’re interested, because I’ve told you what this blog post is about.

What not to do? Don’t say, “Here’s my blog post for today.” That’s not any better than saying nothing. Hook your readers.

Ok, the next way to correct link dumping is to kindly ask those who are doing it in your group to please let the group know why they feel the link is worthy of sharing. What about the post inspired them to rush out and share it with their friends? Simple questions and kind wording can hit the point home without upsetting them.

Market to Readers

Go ahead and look at your Facebook and Twitter followers for a few minutes. How many of them are authors? What about the “readers” groups you’re in? Are they full of authors and only have one or two readers? If so, congratulations! You’ve found a ton of author friends to network with (and not market to).

But, Karen, how can I find readers then? Where are they?

  1. Readers love eBook discovery services, like ChristianEbooksToday.com. Did you know that ChristianEbooksToday.com’s reader following (not authors) is over 80 – 85%? In general, eBook discovery services are dedicated to seeking out new readers. They market to readers, use tactics to draw readers in, and they have a bigger base of readers than the typical author, because they offer readers a wide variety of what readers want—books.
  2. Readers follow book bloggers. Book bloggers focus on providing reviews and giveaways that appeal to readers. There are tons of book bloggers out there. Get them to review your book. Send them free copies. And don’t be stingy here. If the blogger wants a Kindle copy, pay the retail price of your book and send them a gift copy through Amazon. It’s a better user experience for the blogger. In the end, you still get a royalty on the book and the rest is an advertising expense. It’s the cost of doing business.
  3. Readers are in book clubs online and in real life. One of the coolest ways I’ve ever connected with readers was when an out-of-state friend of mine got her book club to read one of my novels. When they finished it, they ask me to video chat with them and answer their questions about that novel and my other novels. They were all extremely excited to talk to a real author and many expressed an interest in reading my other novels. If nothing else, they will remember me because they met me, virtually of course.
  4. Readers like to keep track of authors they like. One of the best things you can do to connect with readers is to include a link to your website in the back of your books (both eBook and print). Make sure your website has a link to all of your social media accounts and to your newsletter. Give readers a way to follow you once they discovered they like you.
  5. Readers see and respond to paid web ads. Yes, I just said paid. A well-designed ad strategically placed can really draw readers to your website. Or link it straight to your product page on a specific retailer. If you have a book that appeals to women ages 25-40, try placing an ad on a Christian mommy blog. Think about what types of readers you want to attract, where you can find them, and invest a little in your book.
  6. Readers do respond to reading related twitter hash tags. Both genre specific hash tags like #christian #romance, and more general hash tags like #amreading or #mustread or #ebookalert get the reader’s attention. Also try device specific hash tags like #kindle, #kindlefire, #nook, #kobo, #ipad. Just make sure your links take the reader to the appropriate retailer for that hash tag (i.e. iPad takes them to iTunes, Kindle takes them to Amazon).

It takes time to build up a reader following. Most of the time it takes years of dedicated interaction with readers where they live. The above are ways to help speed up that process. But, if you want to build up a reader base on Facebook / G+ / your website, you have to keep things reader centric.

Stop marketing to authors. Start networking with them and start connecting with readers.

Best-selling self-published author, Karen Baney, enjoys sharing information to help authors learn about the Business of Writing.  She holds a10 Keys Cover Med Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University and has worked in various business related career fields for the past 20 years.  She writes Christian Historical Fiction and Contemporary Romance novels.  To learn more about her novels visit her website: karenbaney.com.  Authors can find tips and information on self-publishing and marketing at:  www.myauthorservices.com.

Karen and her husband, Jim, also run several online businesses.  They make their home in Gilbert, AZ, with their two dogs.

Her latest book, 10 Keys to eBook Marketing Success, is now available on Amazon.

 

Maximize Your Book Sales and Exposure by Using Your Free Author Central Account

By Shelley Hitz, http://www.Self-Publishing-Coach.com

Did you know that Amazon gives you a free tool to help you in your book marketing efforts? I did NOT know about this tool in the first two years of my publishing journey and I wish I had because I know it would have helped me sell more books. What is this free tool? It is called your author central account. You can sign up for your account here: http://authorcentral.amazon.com . For each version of Amazon, you will need to sign up for a different author central account (i.e. http://authorcentral.amazon.uk, etc.). I wish they would combine them all into one account, but for now they are separate.

 

Update Your Book Categories

One of the most powerful things you can do in your author central account is to change your book categories. By changing then to less competitive categories, your book can easily become a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Who doesn’t want their book to become a #1 bestseller?

All you need to do is to research your categories and then contact Amazon via your author central account about the categories you would like changed. There is a contact link at the bottom of the webpage where you can contact them directly. For Kindle books, you need to use the contact link in your KDP account.

The first time I discovered this option and changed categories on one of my books, within a few days the Kindle version became a #1 bestseller for its category!

 

I was amazed and looked at the book sales. It didn’t actually sell more copies than previously, but it had become a bestseller simply because I chose more relevant and less competitive categories. I show you exactly how to do this in my training “Amazon for Authors” here: http://amazon.self-publishing-coach.com.

 

 

Modify Your Book Description

Another great feature of your amazon author account is the ability to change your book description on Kindle or print books. You can add bold, italics, numbered lists, bullets and more to your description.

Your book description is one way to pre-sell your book to your potential readers, so adding this extra formatting can really help your book stand out from the competition.

 

Add Reviews to Your Book Sales Page

Along with adding extra formatting to your description, you can also add quotes from your most powerful reviews on your sales page via your author central account. For each book, there is a section that you can add reviews and this will then be published on your Amazon sales page giving you more credibility and catching your potential reader’s attention. You can also format these reviews with bold and italics but don’t go overboard. They will speak for themselves!

 

Get Help

Finally, through your author central account you can get help and get your questions answered. Their customer service has always been great anytime I have contacted them. You can contact them via phone or e-mail. For phone, they will call you back within a few hours and with e-mail they usually reply within 24 hours.

When I first started using my author central account I had several questions that they were able to answer right away and helped me tremendously. Also, if you notice anything wrong with your sales page let them know. I recently noticed that my entire book description wasn’t showing and there wasn’t a “show more” link. I was getting ready for a big book promotion and contacted them. Within hours it was corrected and I was ready for my promotion.

 

Conclusion

If you are publishing on Amazon through print books or Kindle eBooks, using your free author central account is one technique that I recommend to all authors. What are you waiting for? Get started now here: http://www.authorcentral.amazon.com.

If you want more step-by-step help setting up your author central account, sign up for one of my most popular trainings, “Amazon for Authors” here: http://amazon.self-publishing-coach.com

 

 

 

Shelley Hitz is a Christian author and speaker. Her main passion is to share God’s truth and the freedom in Christ she has found with others which she does this through her books, websites and speaking engagements. You can learn more about Shelley’s ministry here:www.ShelleyHitz.com

Shelley also offers advice to authors including free author tools and templates that you can download here: http://www.self-publishing-coach.com/newsletter.html

 

On Writing the Angsty Teenager

For writers, it’s much more difficult to write (well, at least) something he or she knows very little to nothing about than it is to write something he or she knows very well. If, say, a writer has never owned a cat, the collection of original humorous stories he writes about the funny things cats do will probably fall flat with avid cat lovers. The only way to make it work would be go out and do the leg work to actually get real-life anecdotes from those crazy cat people.

Writing believable characters is essential to telling a good story. Even if your character is a two-headed pig-frog hybrid creature from the planet Ultron, it still needs to be believable in the context and environment it lives in. We’ve all had those moments watching a television show when we said to ourselves, “That newborn baby is NOT a newborn baby!” or “Who are they kidding!? Those are NOT teenagers!”

When you throw teenage characters into the mix things become even more complicated. Anyone who has spent any time with teens–either their own or someone else’s–knows that attitudes, even personalities, seem to change on a daily basis. And that is exactly what is happening, too. The teen years, according to psychologists, is a time when humans subconsciously “try on” different personalities to see the types of reactions they’ll receive. Of course, very few teens themselves know this is happening. All they know is that they are different people at home, school, with friends, and with other adults. This makes writing a truly believable teen difficult, but there are ways to help you get the best teen character.

Of course, if you are a teen (or just out of your teenage years), write what you know; write your teen characters as you think/thought and feel/felt. This is the easiest way to write believable teens.

If, however, you’re like most of humanity, you are not a teenager. While that’s a fairly high hurdle to overcome, there are still ways to get around your adult-type thinking. Simply going to where youth hang out and listening in on conversations will not get you the point of view you’re seeking, especially if you’re writing form a first person or omniscient point of view and want to include realistic inner dialogue. Even with their friends, few teens open up and share their innermost thoughts. Simply going to where there are a lot of teenagers and listening in will not give you the inner dialogue you want.

The best way to write a teenage character–even if it may take months to even years–is to get to know a teenager enough that he or she trusts you enough to let you in and really talk to you. Because of the teen’s inner struggle, opening up and showing “the real me” is difficult for them. They will not easily trust someone if they suspect that trust will be violated. To show yourself worthy of their trust, you must get to know them. You need to be willing to listen to the inane prattle and the surfacey fluff and not pass judgment before they will open up and show you how they really think (within reason, of course–you shouldn’t, by your lack of judgment, be seen as encouraging dangerous, destructive, or illegal behavior).

By R.M Strong

Volunteering in a youth program is one of the best ways you can accomplish this. If you are religious, ask your house of worship’s youth director if they need help (as one myself, I can tell you with absolute certainty: they will always need someone to help, especially with middle schoolers). If you are non-religious, there are still plenty of places to go to begin relationships with youth. You could be a Big Brother or Big Sister. Police departments in cities usually have teen outreach programs. Volunteer at a school or the YMCA. If you already have a book published, ask school librarians if they would like you to come in and do a reading. Build relationships with the kids. Take them (with parental permission of course) out to a game, or for a coffee, or just out with you running errands. Any time spent with them one-on-one or one-on-two will be good for not only you, but for them as well.

Speaking from personal experience, once the relationship is built, you will be able to pick their brains, and they can even help you with your story. Young Adult Fiction authors have some of the best resources (and story editors) available in the angsty teenager. Few, however, take the time to mine this resource, and many times, characters simply come out sounding like adults.

To get to know the quirkiness of R. M. (Rikki) Strong, one only has to look to her namesake: The “Rikki” of 1972’s Steely Dan’s Song: “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.” Now a Pastor’s Kid four times over, she hasn’t forgotten the fun-loving nature her parents, and the rest of her family and in-laws, instilled in her. After 13 years of public school and 3 years of Bible College, she was ready to take the world by storm… Um, yeah, sure… we’ll go with that.

Her favorite genre to write is Young Adult, partially because she absolutely refuses to admit she’s “getting on in years” and partially because, ever since graduating high school, she has been mentoring middle and high school students through various churches. There is always some story (or series) in the works, and she’s always looking to branch out into new things.

She lives in Idaho with her husband, son, dog, cats, hamster, fish, and chickens

I can’t buy it if I don’t know about it

I recently purchased a Nook Color because I wanted to compare it with my Kindle Fire.  As I started exploring the Nook store, I discovered that it is incredibly difficult to find my books.  Browsing for books in a narrow genre (such as Christian Fiction) is really difficult.

After an hour of trying to find my books by just browsing through genres I gave up.  I doubt a reader would have tried for much more than two minutes.

So, how does a relatively unknown author get their work in front of readers? Certainly the my-book-is-now-published-let-the-sales-roll-in marketing plan isn’t going to work.

Targeted marketing is the answer.  I have to reach readers where they are.  I have to limit the number obstacles that stand in the way of them purchasing my books.  I need to give them the most direct access possible to my books.

So, how do I do this?

1. Fight false assumptions about reader behavior.  I was challenged by this.  I thought that if I pushed out messages to readers about my books with links to the Kindle version, if a Nook reader came across the link they would look me up. I’m finding the opposite is really true.  Whenever I tweet targeting Nook readers specifically, I see more Nook sales that day.

2. Provide links with direct access to purchase books from different distributors.  This might mean including both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble links in the message (Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter, etc.).  Or perhaps the entire message is targeted to a specific distributor.  I have tweets that I send out just for Nook users.  I also have some specifically for Amazon UK, etc.

3.  Post messages and interact with all kinds of fans.  I look for Facebook groups and blogs that are specifically for Nook or Kindle users.  Being sure to follow the group / blog’s policies, I’ll post messages specifically for those users.

4.  Make sure links for all distributors are available on your website.  Sometimes it’s not realistic to list every link for every distributor in a message or blog post, but you can make sure that your website has the most information possible. I like to include direct links to books for each distributor in multiple locations on my website.  It’s a good idea to use affiliate links.  (If you’re not familiar with distributor affiliate programs, see my guest post on the subject at Joshua Bedford’s site.)

Regardless of what steps you take in marketing your books, try to keep it fresh.  Remember it takes a reader an average of 5 times of seeing your book before they’ll make the purchase.  The more you can get it in front of them the better.

What are some false assumptions you have about reader behavior?  Have you been thinking one way only to realize that something else might be true?  How do you target your marketing?  Please share your thoughts below.

Self-published author, Karen Baney, enjoys sharing information to help authors learn about the Business of Writing.  She holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University and has worked in various business related career fields for the past 20 years.  She writes Christian Historical Fiction and Contemporary Romance novels.  For more information about Karen’s books, visit her Amazon Page or Barnes & Noble.

Events: Book Fairs, Festivals and Conventions

By:  Shawn Lamb

For an author, nothing is scarier than striking out on one’s own when it comes to promotion.  When a publicist or agent is involved, they usually take care of arranging books signings or readings. Some even do online blog tours. All of these are good, to a point. Perhaps the best method I’ve discovered for promotion are events, whether a local street fair, book festival or convention.

Since I write YA fantasy from a Christian perspective and just branch out to Christian historical fiction for adults, I primarily concentrate on home school conventions.  I have four conventions, 1 international book show, a national convention and twice attended the Decatur Book Festival in Decatur, Georgia in the past 2 years, totaling 8 events.  Decatur is entirely dedicated to authors– established, traditionally published, as well as indie authors. Almost 80,000 people attend and it’s quite an experience to speak and sign books at so large a venue.

We deck out our booth with posters and have our book trailers playing in a 12-minute loop on a 19” television along with Briana dressed in costume as Shannan, the heroine of the Allon series.  We just started with 2 events last year and this year expanded to 6 events, each concentrating on different demographics. For example: MTHEA drew from Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.  In Memphis, I gained readers from Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa and Illinois along with West Tennessee. Decatur brought in new readers from George and South Carolina. Next year, I plan to go north to Cincinnati and draw readers from the upper Midwest. Events give authors something online can’t – face-to-face interaction that make personal connections. By returning to these annual events, I’m building a fan loyal fan base.

Costs for booth vary greatly but generally run around $150 to $500. However, other factors should be considered such as gas for travel, food and hotel if it is out of town.  For me, this is an investment since I can’t afford an advertising campaign, but I get back so much more than a nameless, faceless online media blitz, blog tour or press release.

Tips for a good, safe and successful event:

PLAN!!! Yes, plan down to the last detail. Leave nothing off the list, including scotch tape, paperclips and Tylenol. You may laugh at the last one, but when you are on your feet for up to 13 hours on concrete floor, you will NEED Tylenol!

Pack wisely – what you haul in is what you will need to break down. Books are your first priority, but bring good chairs.  The chairs provided are used time and time and time again. Do your back and feet a favor and bring good chairs and those interlocking mats you see at gyms or day-care centers under kid’s play sets.

Pay attention to the does and don’ts at each venue and what they provide and don’t provide. We need electricity to run our T.V., DVD player and computer for transactions. Many places charge outrageous fees for these, so if you need electricity, plan for an alternative source. We have a power station that is all-inclusive – the type one carries in their car for emergency jumps starts.

Bring your own food and drinks – this not only helps to keep costs down, but also you won’t have much time. It never failed – even just going to the bathroom someone would stop by the booth looking for me. When we travel to an event, we get a hotel room with a refrigerator to store our food, which we transport in the cooler we’ll use for the events. We make sandwiches, wraps, easy finger food and water!

ENGAGE!  Don’t bombard people with handouts and hawking, that can be a big turn-off, but don’t sit back either. Freebies are good and so are prizes.

The latter is probably the hardest since there isn’t a technique or 12-step method to closing a sale. However, overbearing hawking is a turn off.

The best example of overbearing was a woman who paid for 3,000 four-color postcards – well done and professionally printed.  She gave them to whoever passed her booth and even canvassed the event – which was against policy for solicitation. By the second day of the three-day festival she ran out of postcards. When taking breaks, we saw piles of her postcards lying on top of trashcans. The result of her aggressive hawking only generated a couple of dozen book sales.

In contrast, we printed out 200 ½ sheet flyers from our home computer on cheap parchment paper with black ink and targeted our audience within the confines of the festival area. One-day of ALLON book sales equaled her total.

As for attire, we dress in casual professional and Briana wore her costume. With social media you can sit at your computer in your skivvies and no one would know. But not at events, your appearance, speech and mannerism are important parts of the presentation.

Figuring out what to say is hit and miss at first. Yet, I soon discovered the best approach was talking about the inspiration for Allon – the fact my daughter asked me for a story and I did it. From there the conversations took off in various directions depending upon questions from the parents or kids.  This is where genuineness comes into play. If your book is personal, don’t be afraid to speak about it. Personal stories resonate with people.

Don’t pressure people into buying a book.  When someone hesitated with uncertainty if their kid would like Allon, we told them to go on the website and read an excerpt, watch the videos.  Quite a few people returned the next day having done as we suggested and bought books. You need to have the mindset of not just ‘selling books’, but of gaining readers and generating long-term interest.

To get an idea if an event is good for your books or not, attend some in your local area. Speak to the vendors and look for clues of what works and what doesn’t.  Also, consider events more pertinent to your books such as cooking conventions or home and garden shows. Also, don’t overlook local street fairs or celebrations to get your name known among your friends, neighbors and local businesses.

Shawn Lamb is the author of the epic Christian YA fantasy series Allon along with The Huguenot Sword. She once wrote for the animated series BraveStarr, produced by the same studio that did He-Man and She-Ra. She has won several screenwriting awards including a Certificate of Merit from the American Screenwriters Association.

 Find Shawn on the ‘Net at:

Website: http://www.allonbooks.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shawn-Lamb/e/B002LPYXF0/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Blog: http://allonbooks-thekingdomofallon.blogspot.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000208991898&ref=name

Express Yourself… On Twitter!

By: Wendy Young

So you’re on Twitter.

If you’re like me, you barely get a greeting out in 140 characters, much less a coherent thought. The limits can be daunting, and that’s not all – how do you get yourself heard (and repeated) in all that noise?

Let’s look at a few simple steps that help take a conversation and turn it into a Tweet.

You start with an idea:

My editor friend, Suzi Quinnones, wrote a great review of my novel, The Great Debut, and she posted it on her blog at http://www.herblog.com/review-of-the-greatest-debut.htm

Right off, you think ‘whoa, that’s too long’ but let’s focus on a few other things first and you will see length take care of itself.

The first problem is that this is in the first person voice. The point of Twitter is to share and be shared and if I see this tweet I’m not likely to Re-Tweet it. Suzy is not my friend, after all.

Let’s generalize the thought:

Editor Suzi Quinnones wrote a great review of The Great Debut and she posted it on her blog at http://www.herblog.com/review-of-the-greatest-debut.htm

That’s better, but we’re not done yet. The address takes up a TON of space. Twitter will shorten it a little and a program like Tweetdeck or SocialOomph or Hootsuite will do it fully but for the purposes instruction, we’ll use the url shortening website ow.ly: http://ow.ly/url/shorten-url.

Editor Suzi Quinnones wrote a great review of The Great Debut and she posted it on her blog at http://ow.ly/7lAjc

We’ve got this nice and short, only 115 characters, but we’re not done yet. Short is a requirement of Twitter, but just sticking to that limit doesn’t help you use Twitter properly. Remember that we want people to read and share the tweet so you need to get it noticed too.

One way to do this is by using the @ symbol to get someone’s attention or to draw attention to yourself.

Editor Suzi Quinnones wrote a great review of The Great Debut and she posted it on her blog at http://ow.ly/7lAjc via @jclarkewrites

If you’re sharing with a private group and asking people to Tweet about you, you’ve included yourself and when anyone reads it they will have a link to your profile. Additionally, you can use the @ to get the notice of someone you really want to have read this tweet but be careful with that. If you do it too often you’re spamming and you’ll either be tuned out, unfollowed, or even blocked.

Hash Tags are another great way to punch up a tweet.

Editor Suzi Quinnones wrote a great review of The Great Debut and she posted it on her blog at http://ow.ly/7lAjc via @jclarkewrites #review #amreading #christian #romance

People can click those extra, like #amreading, and see who else is using the same Hash Tag. That gives you another way to get noticed, even by people who are not following you. There are MANY Hash Tags in use and you can even make up your own.

You’ve got a basic post thee but it’s bland (and now I’ve made it over 30 characters too long). Take your statements to the next level and make them engaging and eye-catching to the reader.

An editor just gave THE GREAT DEBUT 5 stars! http://ow.ly/7lAjc #review #amreading #christian #romance via @jclarkewrites

Now we’ve covered the bases – it’s only 123 characters, it’s written so anyone can ‘say it’ and not feel out of place, the url is short, your twitter name is linked, it’s hash-tagged, and you’ve ‘buzzed’ it up. You’re ready to get noticed!

I hope this introductory course to writing great Tweets has been helpful. Twitter is an amazing tool for connecting with both readers and writers, building your platform, and building your fan base. It pays to be tweet-savvy and make it work for you!

Wendy L. Young has been writing for more than twenty years – everything from poetry to scripts and non-fiction. She now focuses on writing mystery/suspense stories with a heart-pounding dose of thrills. Her first mystery novel, Come the Shadows, is out now and the sequel, Red Sky Warning, will be published November 29th, 2011.

Connect with her online on Twitter, her blog, Facebook, and Goodreads.

As the Turkey is Basting…

Since this time of the year is more about family and fun, here is something to give you writers a few giggles!

Submitted By:  Peggy Blann Phifer

Was’s and commas and adverbs . . . Oh, my!

Doing my final edits on my debut novel, I’ve become quite conscious of grammar usage, the overuse of adverbs, the all-too-frequent use of “was” and a dozen other things most of us do that we really know NOT to do. I even had some POV (point of view) problems. Oh, and the proper insertion of commas (some included where they didn’t belong, and others omitted.)

Now that the manuscript is in the hands of the publisher, I thought I’d share a little something that ties right in with this subject. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did when I found it.

Here we go: Rules for Editing

1.  Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.

2.  Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

3.  And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.

4.  It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

5.  Avoid clichés like the plague.  (They’re old hat)

6.  Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.

7.  Be more or less specific.

8.  Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.

9.  Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.

10.  No sentence fragments.

11.  Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.

12.  Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

13.  Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.

14.  One should NEVER generalize.

15.  Comparisons are as bad as clichés.

16.  Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

17.  One-word sentences?  Eliminate.

18.  Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

19.  The passive voice is to be ignored.

20.  Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary.  Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.

21.  Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.

22.  Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.

23.  Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.

24.  Eliminate quotations.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

25.  If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.

26.  Puns are for children, not groan readers.

27.  Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

28.  Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

29.  Who needs rhetorical questions?

30.  Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

And the last one…

31. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Peggy Blann Phifer is the editor of Whispers in Purple http://www.whispersinpurple.com and features authors books on her Friday feature, Book Bites.  Peggy’s first book will come out in 2012.


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Are you PUSHING and PULLING?

By:  Staci Stallings

Have you ever tried to move a wagon with two people pushing in opposite directions, or pulling in opposite directions?  What happens?  It doesn’t move, right.  Or maybe worse, it tips over.

In marketing the same is true.  If all you’re doing is pushing or all you’re doing is pulling, either your sales will not move or you will tip the strategy over completely.

When you think of marketing and promotions, you have to think in dual terms:  pulling AND pushing.  That’s how you create a strategy that works.

Pulling

Most people, when they begin to market, miss this step completely.  All they do is push, push, push.  Ever heard of a “pushy” salesman?  Why do we call him that?  Because all he does is PUSH his product on us, and if you’re like me, you will be figuring out a way to LEAVE as quickly as possible–or to get him out of your living room if that’s the case.  The same is true of pushy online people.

Further, pushing alone doesn’t work because you can’t sell to people who aren’t there, and you don’t want to be the one everyone runs from when they see coming.

That’s where the concept of “pulling” comes in.  Pulling put simply is anything you do to reel readers in to you.  Then give them a reason to read more by putting out something they enjoy reading as a sample.  Now you can do this many ways.

You can give away Free Previews of your book, or you can write a blog that has great content.  On Twitter, you can use quotes, sayings, Bible quotes, etc. to accomplish this. On your blog, you can host guest bloggers who will hopefully send their audience to you to read the post.  You can also host interviews and do reviews on that same premise.

Think of things that PULL you in.  What gets you to RT something from someone you don’t know? Why do you want to send it on?  The plain truth is we very rarely RT anything from people we don’t know if it PUSHES anything.  So tailor some of your tweets and Facebook posts to simply giving great information–books you’ve read that you loved, articles that you read, sayings that touched you.  All of these have the potential of reeling new readers to you.

Pushing

Once you have potential readers coming to you, now you can do some pushing.  Notice I said SOME.  If all you do is push, they will leave.  So remember to keep up pulling even after you’ve gotten readers. The real secret to pushing is actually pulling. Pulling attracts people like a magnet.

Have you ever been on Twitter and figured out that someone only posts Push-type tweets? After awhile, do you even read those anymore, or do you just skim right by them even if you don’t delete them as a follow?  Me too.  There are several that try to work their title into every post and it gets annoying!  After awhile, I just skim right past them.

The other thing to remember in marketing is to not talk about yourself even in your push marketing.  Talk about what the reader will get out of it.  Talk about how your writing will help them.  Talk about what they will learn or why this story is so fascinating they can’t possibly pass it up. This is sometimes easier said than done, but it works.  Which would you be more apt to click on:

 

Check out my new book, FIELD OF DAISIES.

OR…

What secrets does the past hold?  FIELD OF DAISIES.  When you go in, can you ever get back out?

 

So remember, in all marketing:  Pull constantly and consistently, and pull even when you push!

Staci Stallings is the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection.  To join the group, send your Name, Email Address, Twitter handle (if you have one), and/or Facebook page to staci_stallings at hotmail dot com (altogether!) with the subject:   G&F New Member, and Staci will let you know what your next step is.  I hope you will join us for this new and exciting marketing adventure!

How To Double Your Sales

By:  Karen Baney

Okay.  So, I don’t really know the sure-fire way to double your sales as an author.  But, I can share with you what has been working well for me over the past three months—months where I’ve double my sales each month.

First, and most importantly, none of the following suggestions will be successful if you haven’t written a great novel and you don’t have a good cover.  Those two things are absolutely critical for your success as an author.

That little disclaimer aside, here are the three things that have helped me the most in the past three months.

Twitter

After much nagging from my hubby, “Are you on Twitter yet?  You need to be on Twitter.” I finally broke down and got on Twitter.  The first month I was on it, I could hardly figure out what to do with the thing.  I mean 140 characters is frightening to a word smith.  How was I going to say anything in that short space?

So, I started reading other people’s blogs about Twitter.  I learned about hash tags, how to schedule tweets, what kinds of things to tweet, and how to engage with others.  The first month I was on Twitter, my Amazon sales ranking went from somewhere around 108,000 to hovering around 35,000. Pretty good, say you?  I thought so.  And I doubled my sales from the previous month.

(Yes, my hubby was right – just don’t tell him I said so.)

But that wasn’t the only front of my marketing efforts.

Blogging

Yes.  I just said the dreaded “b” word.  But, let’s get real.  Blogging does help.

I’ve finally gotten into a routine with blogging.  I started a series highlighting the main characters from my Prescott Pioneers Series.  This blog series runs every Wednesday.  I include a photo (purchased for less than $5 at iStockPhoto), the character’s stats, and a few insider secrets that only I as the author know about the character.  My fans love it.  It also gives me a chance to promote my books in an interesting way.

The other blog series I started was a Friday post just for authors about various writing topics.  This is a great way to network with other authors and some of them may even buy my books too.  If nothing else, they will have learned something from my posts.

I’ve also recently added an author spotlight series on Mondays, where I feature interviews with other indie authors.

During this time frame, my Amazon ranking went from 35,000 to about 11,000.  Oh—you guessed it—I doubled my sales from the previous month getting very close to that 1,000 book a month barrier.

Then, the next big thing hit…

Cross Promotion

I finally had enough money coming in from my sales that I could spend a little extra on marketing.  So, I started snooping around to find some cheap ways of marketing.  Well, in that process, I connected with Melissa Foster, best-selling author on Amazon.  I was invited to participate in a big promotion.

This promotion hadn’t even launched yet, and I saw tremendous benefit.  I’ve connected with 36 new author friends.  We’ve been helping cross promote for each other over the past month.  I’ve also learned from them ways to work smarter and not harder (like scheduling tweets, getting my book on various websites, etc.)

Since meeting this great group of people, my Amazon sales rankings have jumped from 11,000 to hovering around 2,500.  Wow!  I call that a success.  And… I doubled my sales from the previous month, finally breaking the 1,000 books a month barrier by a significant amount.

While I can’t guarantee you’ll see the same results, I hope I’ve given you a few ideas on how you, as an author, can market your books and reach out to new readers.

The Revolution – A Footnote

In the two weeks since this post appeared on another blog, I’ve experienced something I never thought I would:  an explosion of interest in transparency.  People have been emailing me with questions.  Authors are banding together to form cross promotion groups.  I’ve completely lost track of how many times this article has been tweeted about (and even if I don’t personally thank each of you, please know I sincerely appreciate your help in getting the word out).

One of the best outcomes of this article is that I am now a part of Grace and Faith 4 U.  This brand new author community is quickly becoming a great place for Christian authors of all genres to meet, get to know each other, and help promote each other’s work.  My heart is overflowing – I have wanted this type of support from the day I typed my first word of my first novel.

Will you join me in this revolution?  Become a part of Grace and Faith 4 U (FB Page: Grace & Faith Author Connection)or start your own group!

Self-published author, Karen Baney, enjoys sharing information to help authors learn about the Business of Writing.  She holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University and has worked in various business related career fields for the past 20 years.  She writes Christian Historical Fiction and Contemporary Romance novels.  For more information about Karen or her books, visit http://www.karenbaney.com.

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