The Treasure Seeker: Finding Love and Value in the Arms of Your Loving

The Treasure Seeker CoverLargeThe Treasure Seeker: Finding Love and Value in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father was written to encourage and equip women who are either seeking God or who want to grow closer to God & Christ. At the heart of the book is the concept that we are a valuable treasure and when we finally connect with God and allow him to “find” us, we’ll enter an amazing rich relationship we never knew existed. Once we enter that relationship, God goes from the role of Treasure Seeker to that of Master Jeweler who will refine and make us into the gemstones we were meant to be. It’s about becoming a woman of excellence without all the pressure to be perfect.

Unique accompaniments:

  • Intriguing treasure stories
  • A study of the “Lost” parables including the lost coin, the lost sheep, the prodigal son, the treasure hidden in a field, and the pearl of great price
  • Points to ponder at the end of each chapter for reflection and discussion
  • A chapter highlighting gemstone attributes allowing readers to determine which gemstone they are most like
  • A Treasure Seeker Jewelry line created by author/artist Teena Stewart available at a discount when you purchase the book.Receive 10% off when you purchase the book and show proof of purchase. Here’s the link to the jewelry line.  http://www.serendipitni.com.

Women can use it for personal study or for group study. It’s a great resource to  share with someone you may want to understand the gospel in a very simple and non-pressing way.

Teena Stewart is an author and artist whose work reflects the spiritual message of being broken and yet valuable in God’s eyes—a Teena COmessage incorporated in her book  The Treasure Seeker: Finding Value and Love in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father (Wine Press). When she isn’t creating up-cycled treasure (artwork and jewelry) from discarded and found objects, she is writing articles and books or leading ministry for Java Journey, an innovative coffee shop ministry in Hickory, NC.

Teena understands firsthand what it means to go from something of seemingly little value to a beautiful and valuable treasure in God’s eyes.

The Treasure Seeker is available in paperback and ebook from and can be purchased at the following locations Amazon (http://tinyurl.com/anf7wza), Teena’s Website (http://teenastewart.com/) and Wine Press Books (http://tinyurl.com/a3v7byk) and most other book stores.The ebook version of The Treasure Seeker will be free on 2/17 & 2/18 on Amazon.com

The ebook version of The Treasure Seeker will be free on 2/17 & 2/18 on Amazon.com

How to Connect with  Teena

Her website  www.teenastewart.com

Her blog  http://nearly-brilliant.blogspot.com/

Personal Facebook http://www.facebook.com/teena.stewart

Facebook Author Pages http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Teena-M-Stewart/216334111720519

Twitter  @TeenaStewart1

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Times of Trial

By Cliff Ball

One Sunday morning, a few weeks after President Collins had nullified the election results, it was Laura’s turn to take care of the under three year olds in the nursery. The babies and toddlers were usually quiet, so Laura sometimes used the time to study for school while also listening to the church service over the radio system that had been set-up for anyone who was in the nursery. As she was studying, she heard a rumble, along with the sound of helicopters overhead, but there were no windows to look out of to see what was happening and she couldn’t leave the nursery, so she figured she’d wait until church was over to find out what had happened. She didn’t have to wait long.
In the auditorium, which had four hundred people seated in the pews, the choir was singing. An M-1 Abrams tank suddenly crashed through the front doors of the building and came into the auditorium, interrupting the singing, while two other tanks crashed through the east and west walls, with black clad soldiers walking into the auditorium from behind the tanks. The congregation was clearly frightened, but they had nowhere to run, and Pastor Fields got up from his chair, went to the podium, and asked, “What’s going on here?”
A man, who looked like he was in charge of this interruption, walked up the steps of the platform, walked over to Pastor Fields, and asked, “Pastor Matt Fields, I presume?”
“Yes. Who are you and what on Earth are doing by bringing tanks and soldiers in here?”
“Who I am is of no concern to you. We’re here to arrest all of you for being enemies of the state. We have busses outside waiting to take you to our holding facility. Go quietly and no one should get hurt. Not much anyway,”
“You can’t do this! This is a free country, we can worship as we please. What right do you have?”
“I can do this, and no, you are no longer free to worship as you please. Men, escort these people to the busses and sweep the campus to look for others to pick up. Pastor, will you go or will you resist?”
Fields looked at his congregation being forcibly led outside, prayed inwardly for the strength to do what he was about to do, and said, “I will not go. I resist your attempt at tyranny. If I die, I die free,”

About Cliff Ball:

Cliff Ball lives in Texas, born in Arizona, is a born again Christian. Has two BA’s, and a Certificate in Technical Communications. Has published eight novels and two short stories. Won third in high school for a short story written in Creative Writing class for a young adult magazine. Please visit his website at http://www.cliffball.net
Links to buy the novel
Amazon paperback

Amazon Kindle US
Amazon UK Kindle
Amazon Canada
Barnes and Noble Nook
B&N paperback

B&N UK Nook
Smashwords

Apple
Kobo

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.

 

Three Ways to Find Free Christian Books for Your Kindle After Christmas

Guest post by Shelley Hitz

Getting a Kindle for Christmas?  Maybe you already have one or choose to read Kindle books via their free apps.  Whatever the case, it is now time to load up your Kindle with free Christian books online!

Here are my top 3 ways to load your Kindle with free Christian books online after Christmas….

#1:  Check the Kindle bestseller list each day for FREE Christian books

As you are probably aware, Amazon Kindle has a KDP select program for authors.  This allows authors to offer their books for free, 5 days every 3 months.  This benefits you as a reader because there are literally new free books to download every day.

The best place to look for free Kindle books is the best seller list.  The top paid books will be on the left and the top free books will be on the right.  You can see an example from the Christianity category in the screenshot below:

amazon

Here are the links to check on Kindle to find free books:

#2:  Check our blog daily (or subscribe) to get notified of free Christian books

We post free Christian books and giveaways daily on our blog.  Make sure to check back often to keep filling up your Kindle!

#3:  Finally, make sure you don’t miss the “Shop ‘Til You Drop” free Christian book promotion 12/26, 12/27 and 12/28

shop-til-you-drop-Christmas-promotion

This is a time-limited offer; therefore, make sure to mark your calendar so you don’t miss out!  You’ll be able to download over 30 Christian books, both fiction and nonfiction worth over $110.   You will also be able to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate to get even more books!  3 days only…

On December 26, 27 and 28th go here:  

www.bodyandsoulpublishing.com/shoptilyoudrop

There you go!  3 ways to load up your Kindle with free Christian books after Christmas.

Enjoy and happy reading!

Shelley Hitz

Shelley Hitz

Shelley Hitz is an award-winning and international best-selling author.  Her openness and vulnerability as she shares her own story of hope and healing through her books will inspire and encourage you.

Shelley has been ministering to teens since 1998 alongside her husband, CJ. They currently travel and speak to teens and adults around the country. Shelley’s main passion is to share God’s truth and the freedom in Christ she has found with others. She does this through her books, websites and speaking engagements.

You can find more about Shelley at www.ShelleyHitz.com or invite her to speak at your event here: www.ChristianSpeakers.tv

The Write Faith

At the end of November I was face to face with a big question. Do I have enough faith to spend my time writing books that logic says won’t sell? As you may come face to face with this same question in your life as a writer, I thought I’d share my story with you.

Can I be totally frank with you?

I don’t write literary fiction. My books aren’t deep, there isn’t a lot of internal monologue, and…here’s the part I hesitate to mention…they tend to average about 3rd-4th grade reading level. For comparison, the NIV Bible is translated into 6th grade English.

My books are full of fun action and snappy dialogue. And they have an ease of read factor that some readers really like.

Nonetheless, many grown up readers find them juvenile, and my reviews at Amazon reflect that. My writing income has been tracking upward since I began in this business a couple of years ago, so I figured my work ain’t perfect, but it’s workin’.

However, several friends have asked if I would consider writing middle grade books, as it seemed like it would suit my natural style.

My two middle grade reading daughters asked me if I would please write kids books for them..

And this spring, I ended up at the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators conference for a day. It felt like the mothership had called me home….And yet I went home and plotted another murder mystery.

You see, I just didn’t want to write “chapter books.”

So far, “chapter books” just don’t sell well at Amazon, and Amazon sales have always been my bread and butter. Why would I step away from something successful to enter into something that looks, for all purposes, like it could only fail?

Put another way: Did I have enough faith to invest my talents, or was I going to keep them buried under the convenient midlist mysteries I have been writing?

At my November critique group our fearless leader said, “Listen, you just need to write to your strengths. Don’t try to do what doesn’t come naturally.” I left that meeting still torn. Was it fair to my family for me to spend my time writing books that might not sell? I posed the question to a publisher friend of mind. I didn’t mention the issue being about children’s books though; I just voiced my concerns over struggling with my writing style in general. She said the same thing. Don’t torture your style to make it match the wrong genre.

They were both right, these mentors of mine. But what if I failed?

And then, I went to a toy store.

It’s a fabulous local place that keeps Girl Scout uniforms in stock. I had to go two days in a row, one to get the vest I needed, and the next to get the stuff to go on the vest. That second day the store owner remembered me. We got to chatting and my books came up. The store owner took one of my cards and asked if my books could be ordered from Ingrams. (The wholesale distributor.)

Do you see what just happened there? A local toy store that stocks books for kids asked if I had anything they could order. And I didn’t but someday I could!

God didn’t hit me over the head with a log and tell me to write children’s books. But I think after the week I’ve had it would be almost disobedient not to try!

Despite middle grade novels being new territory for me, despite them also being new territory for e-readers, I am finally ready to take the plunge. I will step out in faith—with TONS of prayer—into uncharted waters.

And you should too.

I don’t mean that you should write kids books. But you should listen carefully at your critique groups. How do your peers define your strengths? When you write, what part of your book gives you the most satisfaction? In your non-writing life, what gets your heart pumping? Is there a place where these all intersect? Is there an uncharted territory God could be using you in, if you only had the faith to step out?

Obviously, I don’t have a contract in hand right now, or any other BIG sign to close this post with. I just have the faith to try. And that, at least from this side of the monitor, seems like a very big thing, to me.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, I recently finished the first of a three book mystery series that I plan to complete. Funnily enough, when I read the completed story I thought it sounded an awful lot like a Young Adult novel.)

Traci Tyne Hilton is an award winning playwright from Portland, Oregon, the author of the Mitzy Neuhaus Mystery Series, and one of the authors in the The Tangle Saga series of science fiction novellas.

Traci earned a degree in History from PortlandStateUniversity and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, their two daughters, and their dog, Dr. Watson.

More of Traci’s work can be found at http://www.tracihilton.com

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

 

My Writing Journey

By Amy McGuire

I’m the youngest of three children of parents who were missionaries in East Africa until I was ten.  My dad was a pilot and pastor to remote villages and my mom was a nurse. I came to know Christ personally when I was seven and I was baptized when I was twelve.  From as early as I can remember, I have loved to read and write stories; happy stories, stories about princes and princesses, stories about love, joy and living life to the fullest.

I love to write.  When I write, my imagination takes over and I feel like almost anything is possible.  I write and read romance because I enjoy reading and writing about people falling love.  I’m a hopeless romantic.  I love engagement parties, weddings and baby showers because they’re all about love.  Love is the most powerful thing in the universe because the One who created love is the most powerful thing in the universe.  God is love. My favourite kind of love is unconditional and one of my favourite verses about that is 1 John 4:10 which says, “This is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  We didn’t have to earn His love.  He loves us regardless of what we say or do.

I’m drawn to love stories and love songs like one magnet is drawn to another.  I can’t resist it.  I don’t know why God wired me to have such an attraction to everything to do with genuine love but He has.  When I was quite young, I began writing stories about how my parents met, fell in love and got married.  As I got older, the stories were about me and the boy who would one day fall in love with me.  As I matured, my stories became more about fictitious people and less about anyone I knew, but the theme was always the same.  Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy asks girl to marry him and they live happily ever after.  My upbringing-a mix of parental values and Disney-is probably what created that particular formula in my mind, but even now, that’s my idea of the perfect romance.

When I started to write The Heart’s Discovery in 2009, it was kind of an escape.  My daughter was just over a year old at the time, and I had been one hundred percent immersed in motherhood up to that point.  I had weaned her, so she didn’t need me for at least one of her basic needs anymore and she was starting to put all her little naps into two long ones-one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  It was summer by this time and as my husband is a youth pastor with flexible hours he was able to stay with her at least once or twice a week while she napped.  I spent many of those naps outside our apartment on the grounds, soaking up the sun as I wrote.

I took advantage of these times to be by myself, write for the pure enjoyment of it and get lost in a world without diaper changes, breastfeeding, baby babble and everything else that comes with being a mom.  Now don’t get me wrong; I love being a mom and I wouldn’t trade my daughter for anything in the world.  But being a full-time stay at home mom can be both physically and emotionally draining at times.  So I dove back into my passion and wrote every chance I got.  I wrote on the bus or train while my baby slept in a stroller beside me.  I wrote while she napped at home and I often wrote late into the night after she had fallen asleep.

For me, writing became an outlet for my thoughts, hopes, dreams and imagination.  It was my husband who encouraged me to get my first book published.  Though the idea of someone else reading my work and thinking it was terrible terrified me, I began to seek out agents.  Rejection letter after rejection letter came my way and still my husband wouldn’t let me give up.  So, at long last I thought I had made it when a traditional publisher contacted me with a request for my first novel.  It was July of 2011 when I was told my book had been accepted to a publishing house in Michigan.  For two weeks after the announcement, I heard nothing.

Then I received a lengthy email informing me that even though they thought my book was good enough and were excited about my series, they were going to be focussing on the authors they already had.  It ended with a note saying, “We think you’ll be stronger on your own” and a suggestion that maybe I should self-publish.  Self-publishing didn’t (and still doesn’t, to an extent) get much respect in the literary world, and I remember thinking, “This is it.  My dream of becoming a published author is over.  Nobody wants my book.  I’m just wasting my time.”

I was so discouraged that I stopped writing for almost a month. I didn’t look at my book even once the entire time.  Then I finished my pity party and looked at my book from a reader’s perspective.  I sat down and read all the romantic parts and felt all mushy.  I laughed at my characters and their awkwardness and cried when they cried.  It was then I came to the realization, “Hey, this book isn’t half bad.  In fact, it’s kind of good!”  Knowing I was biased toward my own work, I sent it off to a couple friends who were also romance nuts, just for the overall opinion and some editing help.  I was surprised and thrilled with their responses.  “We want to read more!” they both said.  I had several friends who just ate it up and I even let them read the rough drafts for books two and three since I had written them at the same time as The Heart’s Discovery.  They couldn’t seem to get enough.

Sometime around my birthday in November I began to take the publisher’s comments that I would ‘be stronger on my own’ to heart and I began to research self-publishing and what it meant to be an ‘indie author’.  Then I spent the next three months editing my first book and coming up with ‘the perfect cover’ (which I would change several times after releasing the book online).  In late January I bought a book by a fellow indie author that walked me step by step through the process of selling my book on my own website (which I had since September 2011) as well as major online retailers like Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and Amazon.

On February 12 I took the plunge and my book went public.  Since then I have learned so much about marketing, cover design, editing, networking and a whole host of things I never imagined myself being a part of.  My world has opened up and I have met fellow indie authors from every walk of life, as well as a few traditionally published authors, all of whom have become dear friends.  The publisher was only partly right when she said I would be stronger on my own.  I do have more control over the whole publishing process but I didn’t do it alone.

God brought a host of people; family, friends and total strangers who later became friends, into my life to encourage me, guide me and support me every step of the way.

I took a trembling step out in faith and in His amazing love, God showed me that there’s a really good reason He made me the way He did.  I learned that I can share love with others through my writing and to never give up before I really get started.  If I had given up back in July of last year I wouldn’t be selling my book and doing what I really love to do.  God gave me a special talent and my responsibility is to use that talent to bring glory to Him.  I fervently hope I am.

About Amy McGuire

First Choice brightened upAmy is the youngest of three children of missionary parents. As a result, her childhood was spent mostly in East Africa. She now lives in Ontario with her husband, young daughter, two cats and plants that she keeps forgetting to water.  Almost from the moment she could pick up a pen she has been writing stories and poetry.  She developed a love of English Literature at a young age and considers William Shakespeare’sTwelfth Night and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudicetwo of the most romantic books ever written.  She began writing comedies in middle school and by junior high had graduated to writing romances.  Her favorite way to spend a sunny afternoon is on a lounge chair with a good novel, some chocolate and soft tunes off her rather eclectic collection of Cds.  She has written many stories but never dreamt of publishing them until her husband gave her a nudge in 2009.

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.

“Abide in Me”

 by:  Staci Stallings

Author’s Note:  This article was written around 2001 about the same time I was writing my newest release “To Protect & Serve.”  The book this article talks about was that book.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.” –John 15:7

 “Abide in Me.” The three words with which Jesus invited his disciples to place their faith in His love as they walked to the Garden of Gethsemane that last fateful night. He wasn’t just talking to the disciples though. No, He was talking to us, too. And these three simple words, if understood and acted upon, can make all the difference in a Christian’s life. The problem is that many of us have never really even noticed they were spoken—much less taken their message to heart.

What does “abide” mean anyway? According to Webster’s Dictionary, “abide” means to remain. That makes sense, remain with Me, stay with Me, stay by My side. Ah, but Jesus doesn’t say “with,” He says “in.” Simply put Jesus is not saying He wants us to walk with him, or to be with Him. He is saying He wants us to remain in Him—as close as we could ever get to Him without actually being Him.

This is just semantics, you say. A play on words. What possible significance could such a tiny distinction make? I can tell you that in my life, it has made all the difference.

I must confess first that until recently I didn’t put words to this phenomenon. I knew it was in my life, but explaining it wasn’t easy to do. At the time I called it “faith.” As a writer, I put great faith in the belief that God would light my path, that if I surrendered the project to His care, I would have the right words at the right time.

The opportunities to use this faith were boundless. For example, when my two year old deleted five pages of the new manuscript I was working on, I distinctly remember saying, “Well, I guess God didn’t want it said that way.” Or when my publicist threw a major curve into my plans by saying the cover for my second book (which I had chosen) would never work, and we had no choice but to change it. True it took me awhile of being furious with her before I realized that it was God, not she, that had a better idea. Once I surrendered to that understanding, the new cover came into focus, and it was far and away better than the original.

For several years these were the types of ways I tried to “abide in Him” although “faith” was probably the better term because I was still relying on some outside entity—not a spirit that permeated me.

Recently, however, I came into contact with Bruce Wilkinson’s Secrets of the Vine, and my understanding took a giant leap forward. In Secrets, Wilkinson talks about the phrase “abide in Me” and what Jesus really meant when He spoke those words. After reading that book, I was having a discussion with a friend about my writing. For the first time ever this friend is getting to experience the writing process with me as she is reading the book I am working on as I am writing it.

The strange thing is: it is not just she who is growing through this project as I am now getting to experience the writing process in a whole new light. A light which has opened my eyes to what has been happening for years. When it would happen in the past, however, I couldn’t adequately explain it to anyone else and therefore it was easier to overlook or to not take the time to really examine. Nonetheless, I believe this experience is the best definition for “abiding in Me” around.

A couple of examples: during the course of writing my current book, I was introduced to two songs that so embody the book that their entrance into my life could not be called mere “coincidence.” Also, I received an email that depicted the exact kind of person characterized in the book in a way that visually detailed the precise message I am trying to portray. A sign possibly that I am on the right track?

Perhaps most intriguing I received a magazine which gave me in perfect form the insight I needed to understand why this character was acting the way he was. Of course, everyone receives magazines every day, and it was one that I was subscribed to, so that shouldn’t be all that noteworthy. Except for this: the post office had changed our address and that particular magazine was one I hadn’t changed the address on yet. I hadn’t received that magazine for four weeks, and when that copy got here, it had the old address, which the post office had said they refused to deliver to anymore. More than that, I haven’t received either of the next two editions although I have now changed the address. So, why then did that one come through with exactly what I needed despite every obstacle against it?

I think the answer can be found in those three words: Abide in Me. Tell me honestly, do we really think that some little post office crisis can keep God’s plan from working out in our lives? If you do, then I challenge you to question how many of these “coincidences” in your life you are either missing out on—or overlooking right at this very moment.

As a firm believer in these words, I can tell you that if you will take them to heart… If you will accept that Jesus is not just an “out there entity” that you can have faith in but truly a spirit that permeates your very life… If you will truly accept His presence in every aspect of your life, every minute of every day, then He will abide in you, and your life will never again be the same.

After all it was His promise.

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Check out Staci’s brand new release…

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman’s fireman. No situation is too dangerous to keep him sidelined if lives are on the line. However, when control freak Lisa Matheson falls for him, she quickly realizes she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

 To Protect & Serve

The Courage Series, Book 1

To save others’ lives, they will risk their own

 Buy it on Amazon Kindle

Buy it on Barnes & Noble Nook

“To Protect and Serve will hold you prisoner to its pages until the final one is turned. Prepare to cry, laugh, wish, love and maybe even cry again as you become enveloped in the hopes and feelings of Lisa and Jeff.”

-Cindy Reiger

Get Your Copy Today!

Review of “Deep in the Heart”

Deep in the Heart

Review by:  H. L. Wegley

Romance, faith, forgiveness, reconciliation, Deep in the Heart has them all. Like each of her books I’ve read, Staci Stallings’ new romance quickly draws you in. Deep in her readers’ hearts is where she plants her two main characters, down-to-her-last-dollar Maggie Montgomery and handsome Keith Ayer, son of wealthy, blue-blooded Conrad Ayer.

Both Maggie and Keith have deep wounds from painful childhood experiences. Maggie’s wounds are healed…almost, but Keith’s are still festering.

Coming from socially opposite ends of the universe and scarred by their past, can these two ever find enough common ground to share what each has that the other desperately needs?

Rather than spoil the story and its many surprises, I’ll let Staci’s skillful writing spoil you with her rich character development and captivating story line, combined with a strong cast of supporting characters.

Set deep in the heart of Texas, this is a story all romance readers are sure to enjoy, especially those who like a solid faith component to their romance.

Deep in the Heart will be free for all Amazon Kindle readers on April 18 & 19!

Click here to read the first chapter or here to see it on Kindle!

Author:  Staci Stallings is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection.  The full line of Staci’s books, which include Contemporary Romance, Bible Studies, and short story collections can be found at:  http://stacistallings.wordpress.com

Her romance novel collection can be found at:  http://ebookromancestories.com

Her Christian Living blog is at: http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com

Reviewer: 
H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He has a BS in Meteorology and worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics at Pacific Northwest Laboratories, where he published scientific articles, reports and books. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area to pursue his love of writing by learning the craft of fiction.
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