Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Interviewing to Promote Your Book

I speak a little about interviewing in my new book, Marketing Your Book on a Budget 2013. What is most clear to me is that obtaining a blog interview is much easier to get than a live interview, such as an interview through radio or television.

What is most important about the interview, however, is that you do as many as possible. For me, personally, I work on blog interviews first. These are not only the easiest interviews to set up, they are rewarding, too.

Consider a blog that has lots of visitors, and these visitors are looking for a new book to read. Consider the blog owner, a new friend, who may take a guest post after the interview, or who may decide to promote your book even further after the interview. Consider the links you can add and on and on.

Use your computer or your telephone to do blog radio interviews
Photo by: xmacex, courtesy of Flickr
Radio interviews come second; but I'm not talking about your local radio station, I'm speaking of blog radio. Blog radio is a terrific source for promotions. Most blog owners are just like you. They're either an author themselves or are trying to grow a new business. Either way or both, interviews with places such as blogtalkradio.com, offer authors a splendid opportunity to talk about their work in either a half an hour, an hour show, or even a fifteen minute spot.

Interviews can take place on the local radio station, during a short afternoon television spot or even as written up within your local newspaper, but I'll be the first to tell you that they're much harder to get. That doesn't mean you shouldn't shoot for them, but that you first consider what is realistic and workable as you move into these trickier venues.

In the long run, once you've interviewed on a blog or have done a few blog radio interviews, you may decide to do some interviews on your own blog, or try out blog radio for yourself, further expanding the opportunities to market your work.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Writing for Young Adults

If you're considering writing a YA book, you may also want to consider the following tips:

When writing your book, consider the audience. A book with 15 year olds is a good choice for someone a few years younger, and characters that are say, 16-18 are better for a 14-15 year old. The reason? When you're a teen, you want to be a bit older than you currently are. I don't know what it is about that, but until you're in your 20s, the idea of being older is the cat's meow.

Photo by: Sarah Alamimi, courtesy of Flickr

When was the last time you heard "the cat's meow"? This brings us to tip number two. How do teens speak these days? What phrases do they use? What do they say when they're frustrated, sad, excited? Now, I'm the first to admit that many teens swear, and I'm not promoting swearing here, but I like the thought of someone getting angry and using a lighter slang word to get their point across.

What happens to a teen reader that has to read a classic? Well, unless they are of the unusual variety, nothing much. Teens need action, and lots of it. They need dialogue and a smattering of setting, but not so much that they decide to skip the 'boring' parts. Teens need teens that do scary things; things they've only dreamt about, but they also need realistic stories that deal with trauma in a real and positive way.

Does your main character have cancer? How does she deal with it? Are her parents divorced? How does she feel about that?

Photo by: San Jose' Library, courtesy of Flickr
Take your YA fiction novel deep, but not so deep that the reader is wondering where they are. Whether you're writing a mystery, a romance, or an adventure, consider their age, the way they speak, and what they dream about.

If you have a hard time relating to teens in your own life, you may have a hard time writing about them. If this is the case you need to spend some quality time, or at the very least, do some focused observation.

Unless your book is taking place in the 50s or 60s when you were a kid, you'll need a sufficient update.

Write teen books yourself? What advice do you have?

This book is primarily for the middle reader, can you see why?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Setting Up a Backyard Book Signing + Video

I've been thinking about book signings again today. (Learn how to do a Drive-By Book Signing at the end of this article).

My next book signing should be in the backyard of my new home, but I'm still looking for a home, so we'll see.

Previously, when I've done a backyard signing, I have made it a point to do the following things:

1. Let my friends and family know about the signing at least two weeks in advance. I email, connect with my social media friends, and send the message out daily on twitter, Facebook and Linkedin (my three favorite social media sites). When I am out and about, I hand out postcards with my book cover on one side and my contact information and book synopsis on the other. I leave postcards, with my event listed, anywhere I go that will allow me to leave a few cards.

2. I make up a nice sign for the front yard. I get this professionally done. No hand-written stuff that looks lopsided or unprofessional! This time around I'm going to add helium balloons to attract more attention. These can be purchased and filled easily at the dollar store, but get them the morning of the event, not the night before; balloons may begin to lose their buoyancy if they have to sit over a night.

Photo by: Dinner Series, courtesy of Flickr
3. I make sure that here is enough seating for everyone and that the tables look nice. Table cloths are always needed as are centerpieces.

4. I make sure I have food, and plenty of it. My last signing for my book Scrambled, was a breakfast.
We had scrambled eggs (which my husband cooked up) sausage and pancakes. Always get a chef so that you can talk to those who come to your back yard signing. For my next signing there will be plenty of desserts to go along with my book, The Feast.

5. I have a table set up with my books (not just my new book), and I make sure I have plenty of copies. Decide the count on how many people you invite. You can usually expect a 10 percent showing on most signings--but count on 20 percent. That means if you invite 200 people, expect to sell at least 20-50 books. (If you feel as if this isn't enough books, order a bit more. If you sell them, great, if not, you'll be that much ahead for your next signing). While most readers will purchase your new book, expect that they will also want the other books you've published if they haven't already got them. Plus, many readers are looking for gifts for their friends and relatives.

6. Set the price of your books cheaper than your readers would buy the book elsewhere. I make my price an even number like: $10, rather than charging say, $10.98. I don't want to worry about change if I can help it. Your readers need to know before they arrive that they're getting a discount on their book. And, this is a given, but make sure that you autograph each copy you sell.

7. If I'm giving away freebies, or offering a contest, I let everyone know before the event. While I'm all in favor of small items that come free just for attending, you may want to reconsider a contest that offers a copy of your book. Some folks might hope they win, and instead of buying a book, will wait to see if they're a winner. I have never offered a contest at my back yard signing, and have sold at least one copy to everyone who has attended.

8. Play some music in the background, or, if your book is geared toward children, plan some games that relate to your book. I have a friend who writes middle reader/YA books and she always has games as part of her book's release. The kids love it!

The most important thing is to have fun! Relax and enjoy your friends and family that have come to support you!

What do you do at your book signings? I'd love to hear!

Is your book in bookstores? Here's how to do a Drive-By Book Signing!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Market Your Book!

Good news!

I've just started a new social media group on Linkedin!

This group is for all authors who are interested in marketing! Although I cover a lot of marketing topics here, in the group, you will also discover what other authors are doing to promote their work.

Come and share your work, your links and your questions.

The group again is, Market Your Book!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Marketing to Your Audience

I occurs to me today that I haven't yet discussed marketing to a specific audience. You need to know first hand from me, that I've been known to market to the entire gamut at one time, and haven't until recently, really started to think about marketing to my audience and what that would mean.

So allow me an example:

When I published Marketing Your Book on a Budget 2013, I wanted writers to see it. I knew that readers who weren't writers probably wouldn't care, but that most writers would. So how to get them to see what I had to offer?

One of the first things I did was to post the news on my blog. Most of my readers are writers, so I wanted the news to go first to them. Recently I've read that you will have greater success with readers if you have only one blog, rather than many that relate to each of your books, for example. Keep everything tidy and in one location, where readers can learn all about you.

Second, I focused on getting the word out on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. I'm aware that these posts went out to everyone, whether they were a writer or not, but this is a difficult one to narrow down, so in my efforts to share with all of my friends, I'm sure that some of my writer friends got the message.

Third, I actually posted a link to my book on my many writer related social media sites. I got many comments and some purchases from sharing the direct link to Amazon, and one not so good response. But all in all, writers appreciated that I let them know about my book.

Consider the theme of your book and get involved in social media groups that focus on your particular topic.

Fourth, I have been focusing on going to places where writer's spend their time. Classes and writing conferences are a great place for me because there are plenty of writers their interested in marketing their next book.

What if you have a book on gardening? Or cooking? These are easy. But what if you've written a  book about aliens? Do some deep thinking. If I'd just written a book about aliens, I'd consider planetariums, sky watching parties, stores that sell 'outer worldly' stuff.

Fifth, I usually put out emails to my family and friends and tell them about my new book. I also invite them to a book signing at my home. I didn't do it this time for obvious reasons.

Family and friends typically will buy anything you write; they like to support you in your endeavors and love the fact that they know a published writer personally.

Here's what you need to know:

1. Blog. Blog. Blog.
2. Share. Share. Share.
3. Link. Link. Link.
4. Go places. Go places. Go places.
5. Friends & Family. Friends & Family. Friends & Family.

Do you have a new book? How are you getting it out to your audience?

Let me know here!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Reviews are Priceless

For any of you authors who don't believe that you can get reviews on your books, or feel as if the time and travail you put in is really not worth the effort, allow me to try and change your mind. I received this review today and have no idea who it is. What made it even more worthwhile than the 5 starts I received is that the person purchased the book and then did a review for me.

Good, quick beginner's guide


Bull Frog "author" (Pensacola FL)
Amazon Verified Purchase

This book has good, beginning advice for the self-published author about how to promote a book. It is well written and knowledgeable.


Writers, we all know how long it takes to gather our own set of reviewers, but when other readers, and in this case other writers, make the time to review our book(s) that's when the review is especially priceless.

And so I want to thank Bull Frog who has written books as well, though I couldn't find them listed on Amazon.

If you're not a famous author yet (like I'm not) and feel as if you're not reaching enough people or selling enough books, consider continuing with reviews, yes, even if your book is a year old or older, you've just about given up on it, or you're working on a new project.

Keep the reviews going and you'll find that people will see them.

And while I don't know how Bull Frog found my book, I'm grateful for the review.

Thank you!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hate Marketing?

As some of you may know, I'm a member of various social media groups. One of the things I have been hearing a lot of is:

"I'm an author, I shouldn't have to market. Shouldn't I be focused on my creative endeavors?"


"I hate marketing. It isn't really creative, and I don't want to take time away from what I really love to do."

Well, I have some feedback for you want-to-be marketers.

Yes, you can hire someone to do the marketing for you; pay out the bucks, keep your focus totally and completely on writing, OR, if the money at your house is about as scarce as that ocean in the distance (good for you if you live on or near the coast), then you'll want to listen up.

First, all writers need to learn how to market. It doesn't matter whether you have published traditionally or not, you need to know how to market. Why?

No one will know you have a book for sale.
Your readership won't grow.
No one will be looking out for your next book.

Photo by: danperry.com, courtesy of Flickr
Do you give out freebies at your book signings or speaking engagements?
Second, marketing IS a creative endeavor. Consider the book signing that is a stand out success, because it's more of a party than a signing. Consider an interview where the creative juices are overflowing because you, as the author, have answered the posed questions in surprising, yet honest ways. Consider the time it takes to connect with others on social media; a connection that helps you and helps your new friends. What creative ways can you think of now to help others with their writing? How have other writers helped you?

Three, marketing is only made fun by a change of attitude. You can't stand idly by and expect to market successfully. You can't hate it and do a great job; people will see right through you and you will get tired of the falsehood pretty quick.

Four, marketing doesn't have to take a lot of time, but it does take time. Schedule it. Make time for it, but don't allow your writing life to be run by it. There are times I do more marketing, (like at the time of a book's release) and times I do less of it, but I am always marketing.

Do I love marketing?

Yes I do! Especially when I've created a great balance between marketing and what I love the most--WRITING!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Snarled by Social Media

Sometimes, we get so excited about our writing, we forget to follow the rules about social media Thus was the case for me yesterday.

I have been sharing my new book, Marketing Your Book on a Budget 2013, with my social media friends and one of them didn't like it.

Photo by: carterse, courtesy of Flickr
I got a pretty specific "you are a snarl" type note about being removed from the group if I let it happen again. I went into the site, checked over the rules, and sure enough, I was a "snarl."

But I was still mad.

Didn't writers want to know about writing books? I wasn't promoting just "a book" I'd written, (you know a fictional tale) but something that could actually help another writer with their marketing.

But there it was in black and white.

"No personal promotion."

I had a choice to make. Since I am actively engaged in at least 20 social media groups; (like those on Facebook or Linkedin) who, by the way, have never discouraged me from sharing my work, especially when the book's just been released, I realized I had two choices. Either I could carry on with the group, trying to remember not to post any personal promotion, or I could drop the group.

I decided to drop the group. This wasn't because the group wasn't good, or I didn't like the people in it, or anything like that. I dropped it because it was far easier for me not to worry about the "one" group that didn't like what I was doing.

Since yesterday, I have thought a lot about joining social media groups, and I think it's important, first of all, to check them out before signing up. It's important to respect the rules that have been set up, or you might be apologizing and doing a Michael Jackson moonwalk like I was.
Photo by: _dChris, courtesy of Flickr

Two, if you're wanting to do some personal promotion of your own, make sure this isn't all you do. I guess I'd gotten a little, shall we say "excited" about my new book and I wanted everyone and their dog (snarl) to know about it. Make sure you ask questions of others and respond honestly to others' comments that are posted. Make some friends. Learn something new. And have fun!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What it Means to Be a Writer

I was thinking of what to write about today and it occurred to me that being a writer means I need to always have ideas swirling inside my brain; ideas that can turn into a blog post, a short story or even a novel.

Being a writer isn't always easy. Besides the creativity kick, a writer also has to be constantly learning and improving their craft. Sometimes they have to say no to an event so that they can finish their project. Sometimes they have to wait a long time to publish their book.

Photo by: Speaking Latino, courtesy of Flickr
Often, much labor and money goes into writing before the writer has even published. And once published, there is always the waiting game for the next time, and the next, and the next.

For those who don't really understand writers, they may feel as if writers should get a "real" job, and that writers are only writing for fun anyway.

But what if we aren't? What if there is something deep inside of us that demands that we write?

I say this, because I have this aching need to write every day. Like eating, if I forget to write, even if it's only for 15 minutes, I feel as if something is missing in my heart as well as my life. If I don't write I feel terrible. If I write...

Photo by: Lynda Sanchez, courtesy of Flickr
Well, you get my drift.

I'd like to think that writers are not only creative, but that they are good business people too. What about keeping track of sales on a spread sheet, or keeping organized by recording where you've sent off your manuscript and to whom?

Writers can't just be writers. They must be book keepers, speakers, great interviewees, and more. They must KNOW how to market, they must know what makes a truly great book signing.

Writers are people too, but it's only in the million dollar sales bracket that authors often get any credit. So what does that mean for he rest of us?

We need to help each other. We need to trust that if we help another writer, that this assistance will only cause some great connections, not take away a possible sale. We need to be open to positive feedback when we get it, and not take it too internally when negative feedback comes are way.

But most of all we need to be writers, no matter when that first paycheck comes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why Postcards are So Important in Your Marketing Plan

I know I have hinted at this before, but I wanted to make sure that you knew the details about postcards, when to use them and why they work.

First, business cards have been all the rage for years. I'm not saying you shouldn't use them; I am saying that postcards will get the news out about you and what you do much faster than a name, address, phone number and perhaps, "author" printed on the business card will get you.

Most of my postcards have these features:

On the Back of the Card

A synopsis. You always want a short synopsis of your book no more than 3 paragraphs long.

A QR code. I don't always used a QR code, but I am using it more often than I used to. A QR code does wonders (it's actually a postcard add-on) for anyone that takes a picture of it with their SmartPhone. In an instant they will be taken to a site of your choosing. My QR code goes to this site.

Get your QR code at: http://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/#/. There are many free options on the Internet.

QR Code
My contact information. I include my full name, phone number, email, website and Twitter handle. You may also want to include your Facebook handle.

I sometimes include blank lines near the bottom back side of the postcard. This space is good to write a special note to the person you are giving the card too; something personal like, I hope you enjoy the book.

If you're going to be mailing your postcards, you will only have half the space in back, so keep in mind that the synopsis might be only one captivating line, and you probably will only have room for the date, time and place of your event, and probably not the QR code.

On the Front of the Card
I always include the book cover. This fills up the entire card.
Postcards are much harder to lose than a business card and provide your future reader with enough information to get online and learn more about your book. Postcards also make great bookmarks and are great for book signings and speaking events. I pass mine out during presentations, and always have them at the table when I'm doing a book signing.
If you have any questions about using postcards that I haven't mentioned here, don't hesitate to ask.
Happy Marketing!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Getting the Most Out of a Writer's Conference


Date: May 10-11, 2013
Place: Provo Marriott Hotel
Link: http://www.ldstorymakers.com
I will be teaching a marketing class and signing my books! Would love to see you!

Not only do I speak at writer's conferences, I attend them. And through the years I've learned a few things about how to make the best out of a conference.

Interestingly, it isn't always the popular speaker that I get the most out of; it's the speaker that stretches me and makes me want to try something new like editing in a new way I'd never considered.

Photo by: tom@hk, courtesy of Flickr
Stretch. Through the years I've come to realize that the classes that will be of the most benefit to me are those that take me to the next level. There's no need to take classes that I primarily know; I say, primarily, because there is always something someone can teach me. But don't take a class simply because you feel as if you'll be more comfortable there.

Whether I want to write better setting, or I need new ideas on how to market, I take the classes I need the most, whether the speaker is of the popular variety or not.

Take some breaks. I give myself time for breaks, too. I don't attend every hour, rather I give myself a couple of slots during the day (other than lunch or dinner) to reflect on what I've learned and set some goals.

My mind can get so filled with ideas that by the tail end of the conference I'm just sitting there learning nothing anyway. So why not give my mind some time to reflect?

Do it on you own. I used to attend classes with friends even if I didn't particularly care for the subject or didn't want to attend another class alone. But I've learned that it's okay to do it on my own. I can always meet up with my friend later. I need to take the classes that will cause me to stretch.

When it comes to stretching, this physical exercise helps with stress. I know this because since I've developed an hour exercise program and have been implementing it 5-6 days a week, my stress has decreased and my ability to do more has increased.

Stretching can do the same thing for you. While you're in class, don't take notes about everything you hear--it will drive you crazy anyway--write down those things that strike you, that cause you to ponder, that awaken your mind or cause you to want to leave the class and get started on the idea right away.

Live in the moment. While sitting in a lecture I often find my mind leaving even if my body doesn't. I am writing down all sorts of things; experiencing the moment if you will. People around me might think I am taking copious notes. What I'm really doing is applying something that I have just learned from the speaker.

Getting the most out of a writer's conference takes guts. It's really about giving yourself some time to reflect, not being afraid to do it on your own, being willing to stretch, and being open to the moment.

Living in the moment is always where I get my best stuff.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Writer's Conference

I wanted to make you aware of a writer's conference being held May 10-11 at the Provo Marriott Hotel. Learn more here: ldstorymakers.com/conferences/2013-conference/.


I will be teaching a class on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The subject?

15+ Ways to Market Your Book Without Spending a Cent!

On Friday evening, 5 p.m. is a mass book signing, and at 8 p.m. is a publishers meet and greet. Come and see me!

This is a popular conference; last year's attendees were over 500. There are plenty of classes to choose from. Get help writing, publishing and marketing!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Free Marketing Ideas

Today, I have a couple of things I'd like to tell you about.

First, I have a new article up on this site: http://benschwensch.wordpress.com/. If you'd like to take a gander at some ideas for your own book marketing, you'll want to check out this post. All 5 ideas won't cost you a cent to do!

As part of this post, Brenda (the site owner) has asked me to speak to her writing class. Here are the details:

Date: Tuesday, May 14
Time: 7-8 p.m. (I may get there a little early, so for safety purposes you might want to show up as close to 6:30 as you can). Brenda starts her class at 6:00 with a bit of lecture and writing exercises, and you're welcome to join in if you'd like!
Place: Indian Hills Middle School, 1180 E. Sanders Road, Sandy (a couple of blocks west of 1300 East on about 16500 South; first street south of the 14000 exit when you get to 13th East).

What's important to know about book marketing is that you really don't have to spend a fortune to get it going. So far (to date) I've spend a little money on advertising and a little money on postcards. Everything else has been FREE!

Get this book for only $5 at the class

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Hello, readers and writers!

Today, I'm offering a guest post. Since I've begun to dabble in book reviews on this site, I figured, what the heck! Let's expand the horizons!
Robin Leigh Morgan has published her first book--and some of us know exactly how that feels...Exciting, scary and altogether NEW. The book? I Kissed a Ghost.
Paperback is available at Amazon.

And now...to the guest post!
Some of us who have chosen to write fiction come from a variety of places. And by a variety of places I'm not referring to a physical location, I'm referring to our writing experiences.
There are some of us who have enjoyed writing since we were a child, and each year by writing something in school it improved. For some of us, it continued until we graduated college and began working. Some of us entered the work force taking jobs which required us to write, whether it was procedures, handbooks/manuals, or news stories. But all of these are non-fiction, and each one has a set of "rules" which need to be followed to write something well enough to be acceptable.
As for myself, while my regular job did not require me to write, for eleven years I wrote articles [commentaries/viewpoints] of what was happening in my community and my feelings about it. When I started to write these items my writing skills were not honed, I didn’t have my ideas organized in a tight manner, although my writing had been informative.  By the time I’d written my last item, I’d become quite adept at it.
When I started to write fiction, I somehow drifted to writing a contemporary romance story with a paranormal element running through the storyline, but after almost 9 years I still hadn’t completed it. That is, until someone suggested I should write for a much younger audience; which is what I did, culminating in my first YA Paranormal/Time Travel/First Kiss romance novel, entitled “I Kissed a Ghost.”
Anyway, making the transition from non-fiction to fiction I've had to learn a new set of rules in how to write. Most of these involved dialogue, showing not telling; where before I just told. I now had to learn about the use of tags. I had to learn not to be overly descriptive of something, but allow my reader to create the image for themselves in their minds. In the beginning I found it hard to break my old writing habits. Now I'm finding myself with these habits essentially gone. The biggest issue I still have and am trying to get a good handle on, is POV [Point of View]. Regardless of what's happening or being said it has to be in one's character's perspective, and you can't flip-flop between two characters within a scene, there needs to be a transition from one character to another.
All these things have helped me mold myself into the author I’m today. I've also learned there are additional rules within a genre depending on the sub-genre you've decided to write in. These rules apply to the dialogue spoken which needs to be true to the time period you're writing in, as well as how your characters are dressed, and their titles if any, as is the case with the regencies sub-genre of romance novels.
So as you can see writing is not mere a string of words you put together, there are rules which need to be followed if you’re to be well received by your readers.  
If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you.

Robin can be reached at: rlmorgan@51@yahoo.com 

Paperback is available at Amazon.

From Amazon: 

In "I Kissed a Ghost", Mary gets a new classmate named Jonathan who’s a great baseball player and to get on the team, he needs Mary’s help to improve his grades. Six months later when she learns she’s moving, she decides to give him something special--a first kiss. Moving into her new home she soon discovers it has a ghost named George, her age, who takes her on numerous trips to the past of a hundred years ago. As she meets children her own age, everyone teases her about her house being haunted, but no one will go inside. Mary likes his help doing her math homework, writing her reports, and taking her back in time. George and Mary’s interaction grows and she eventually gives him a quick peck on his lips while they’re in the past, which is the only place George is a real boy, for having done something special for her. Can Mary kiss George again at the special date and time he needs to be kissed? What happens afterwards if she does? The answers are all in the book!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Best Linkedin Writing Groups

Recently, I have discovered the power of joining and participating in Linkedin writing groups.

I had a thought come to me that wouldn't leave me until I'd followed through: Share with those on your writing groups about your new book, Marketing Your Book on a Budget 2013.

Photo by: TheSeafarer, courtesy of Flickr
The idea seemed good; weren't all those in writing groups at one time or another going to be interested in how to best market their book?

And so I went in and spread the word.

Let me just say, word about my book spread like wildfire. In minutes people were chatting about it, asking questions, and telling me that they were going to go over to Amazon and get the book.

I was smart without really even knowing it.

I'd sent along this information, not at just any old time, but during my 3 day Amazon FREE eBook promotion.

I'm glad I fell into this idea, but I wanted you to know about it so that you could use it to assist you in your next book promotion. So, without further ado, here are my favorite Linkedin writing groups:

Aspiring Writers
Authors & Writers of Fiction and Non-fiction
Book Marketing
Books and Writers
Christian Authors, Editors, Publishers, and Bloggers

When you join with any of these groups, make sure that you participate, and that means asking questions of other authors, answering the questions they pose, and sharing your latest news or insights.

What makes a writing group great is the give and take of all of its members.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

3 Best Writing Articles on the Planet

As a writer, I am continually searching for new ideas. Not only about marketing, but about writing. I want to know what people are saying about first paragraphs, first pages; what genres are selling, and what I can do to better perfect my craft.

Photo by: rwkvisual, courtesy of Flickr
And though the planet swirls with ideas; often, so many it's hard to put a finger on the best resources, I occasionally come across an article that can't be missed.

Within the last month I've found three. I like these articles because they give me concrete ideas that I can use without spending a dime.

I love freebies, and I know you do too.

So here they are in no particular order:

1. The first article is called, 105 Tips to Make Your Blog Rock. Now, I know you want your blog to stand out from the crowd (if you have one, and if you don't it's about time you got one) and these tips will do just that. My favorites:
  • Publish content on what not to do.
  • Take a selection of your best blog posts and make an ebook out of it. Then distribute the ebook on the Amazon Kindle Store...
  • On your YouTube channel make sure you have optimized the video for search engines through tags, key phrase in the description as well as the link to your blog in the description section.
2. The second article is called, 7 Hot Headline Ideas for Your Small Business. Yes, I realize you're a writer and maybe not a business owner, but consider my favorite ideas, and how they would get your blog read:
  • The 'How to' Headline (consider the three I have included here).
  • The Question Headline
  • The Headline That Offers a Benefit (good one if you're releasing a new book).
3. The third article is called, 100 Things to Tweet About Besides Yourself. It's far too easy to tweet about yourself; harder to tweet about someone else. But consider these ideas:
  • Links to videos, podcasts or other materials that inspire, connect and delight them.
  • Photos of others doing something interesting.
  • Tips to help your audience solve life problems (and in this case, writing problems).
Sure, these articles might not be the best ones out there, but they sure take the cake when it comes to offering real solutions to improving my writing and marketing.

If you decide to try one of the ideas here, or one within the article itself and want to share your experience, please do so! I would love to hear about it.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Where Are Readers Getting Their Books?

If you read my post from last Friday, you'll know that the topic was getting readers to read your book. The survey offered some insights on where a writer's focus should be to obtain the most readers. Today, I want to talk about:
"Where Readers are Getting Their Books." This survey was done by Otis Chandler of Goodreads.com. And the survey offers some great ideas on where authors should focus their time and energy for the greatest success.

Here's the list:

1. Library
Photo by: cybrgrl, courtesy of Flickr

Photo by: kodomut, courtesy of Flickr
2. Kindle
3. Amazon
4. Borrowed
5. Nook
6. B&N Store
7. B&N.com
8. Gift
9. Apple iBooks
10. Independents
11. Costco/Target/Walmart

How important is getting your book into a library? Pretty darn important according to this survey, yes, even though the reader isn't paying for it. I've later purchased great books I've read at the library, and I have definitely told others about the books I like. Sure, my trusted friend might go to the library for the book as well, but they may also want their own copy.

When it comes to getting your book into the library, the feat isn't too difficult, unless you have a self-published book. But don't give up. It helps to know a librarian that can push it through.

And what about Kindle? So many readers now are not buying paperbacks, they are downloading the e-version. Is your new book available as an e-book?

I used to think that getting my books into Costco was a big deal, but looking over this survey I realize there are other areas more worth my time to focus on. Also, consider the book store. Many self-published authors have a difficult to impossible time getting their books into Barnes & Noble, so they try an independent bookstore. Still, readers aren't really buying books in independent bookstores, so where should an author's attention be focused?

Surveys are really amazing. What you think is important is suddenly shelved at the bottom of the list. You may even find that what you've been working hard on isn't really worth your time as compared to something else.

Another eye opener. Compare this list with the list I gave you on Friday and see what you can learn when you combine them.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Video on Book Marketing: Guess Who Forgot?

Yesterday I was supposed to post a video.

I forgot though I hope you enjoyed my post yesterday.

This Ask Evan video gives you three great ideas on marketing your book.

My favorite suggestion is to write a blog post a week for other sites. That means you'll have to do a lot of planning and writing, but imagine the exposure you'll receive!

I do an awful lot of guest posts for other sites and find that these posts rank high in a Google search. One way to see how you're doing is to type your book's title, or your name into the search engine and see how often you are listed on the front page. This is a good clue in mapping how you're doing in your book marketing.

If you see that you fill up almost every slot on that first page, (and multiple pages following the first page) you're doing a pretty good job.

Friday, April 5, 2013

What Gets Readers to Read Your Book?

Recently, I spoke at a writer's meeting and shared with the group some of my marketing ideas. At the start of the class I read a list that I'd obtained from Goodreads regarding a poll that was taken. The poll offered some insights.

Photo by: zimpenfish, courtesy of Flickr
The books that were polled were Gone Girl and The Night Circus, and the question was:
What Convinced You to Read the Book?

Here's the list:

1. Trusted Friend
2. Everyone talking about it
3. Book club
4. Goodreads - reviews
5. On "Best" lists
6. Sample read
7. Amazon reviews
8. Goodreads Choice Awards
9. Liked Author's books
10. Book blurb
11. Cover

Now, I was at first surprised at this list. I mean, when was the last time you heard, "Great covers sell books"? And yet, the book cover is at the last of this list. It is at the bottom of the totem pole so to speak.

Photo by: Lel4nd, courtesy of Flickr
And while I'm the first to admit that a good cover doesn't hurt, I started to think of the places I frequent and the time I give to them. If I am more concerned about my book cover than I am about talking my book up (doing the right marketing) so that someone will share it with a trusted friend, I'm in trouble.

When was the last time you offered to speak at a book club? Where do you place reviews on your to-do list? How much time to you spend on your book blurb as compared to putting out a sample read on your blog as well as the blogs of others who do it?

I also looked at the marketing done online, in person, and by those who market free for you.

The first two items on this list are done for you. I think that's significant. You must do more than sufficient marketing so that "everyone" at least appears to be talking about your book, including that trusted friend.

You must get out there personally through a book club. And, I would add, anywhere where you can be seen. That means the library, bookstore signings, writer's events, etc.

You must get your book reviewed and by enough people that your reviews will carry clout. And these are online interviews. "Best" lists are provided online, but in order to be put on a "Best" list an author must have a reason to be there. Sales numbers. Contest winnings. Sample reads are also online, as are Amazon reviews and Goodreads Choice Awards.

If your book is liked by a reader, they may just read another of your books, but consider what is above #9 on the list.

Book blurbs are on the back covers of books, and then we have the front covers of books, although both of these can also be placed on a website.

When I was at the writer's meeting, I asked the question, "When was the last time you purchased a book because of the cover?" There wasn't a response. Only a hand. And then, "I'm more concerned with other things," she said. 

We discussed the other things. Many of them were on this list.

You might want to consider them.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cardiac Champs: Book Review

What does a retired  psychologist who has dealt with two heart attacks, do?

He writes a book of course.

Now, I'm the first to admit that I've never dealt with a heart attack personally, (though I've been at it closely with loved ones), but reading  Cardiac Champs, I quickly became aware that the fears, questions, and anxiety that the author experienced, travels the human being gamut when it comes to having an operation and moving forward after it.

The author had his first heart attack at 38 and his second at age 40. Pretty young if you ask me. But the author takes his heart attacks in stride, weaving a tale of honesty and hope that travels from the heart attack, through recovery and beyond.

"This book...is not a book on how to live your life," the author admits in the preface, "rather the book is designed to help you ensure that the condition of your arteries and heart do not completely dictate the kind of life you live."
Dr. Larry McConnell, is a champ in his own right. The book is exceptional in almost every aspect. Through McConnell's striking conversational style, quick humor, and positive outlook, any reader will feel as if he/she has stepped into an after heart attack spa.

"...Be positive, just think, you have the makings for a terrific story. If you are an extrovert who wants to dazzle people, you can tell everyone the pain was out of this world."
As a psychologist, McConnell knows all about "manufactur(ing) hope," in his own life and in the lives of those who have suffered.

He believes that a patient must first accept his/or her condition before any real movement forward can be made. Attached to acceptance comes assurance and reaching out to others.
"It is unrealistic to expect the physician to be your fountain of optimism," he says, "they are trained to deal with illnesses of the body, not the psyche."

And he admits: "My confidence wasn't helped when the nurse insisted I be taken to the front door (at the time of his hospital release) in a wheelchair. She claimed that was just a precaution for insurance purposes. I guess the hospital would have been liable if I had had a heart attack dancing with my wife in the elevator."

And what of the whiners you ask? Though McConnell frankly admits he was once a "helpless gorf," he makes sure that the reader knows that "one good way to avoid being sick is to avoid acting sick."
"...Get it straight," he offers. "You don't have heart disease, you are arterially challenged."

And so it goes.
Expect insightful information, (book is rated PG-13 for language) direction and a smattering of humor in this heart to heart book, but be prepared to step beyond the boundaries.

Whether you're the patient or the loved one, it's your only real choice.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wondering What's Next?

I don't know about you, but I'm continually wondering, "What's going to happen next?"

I'm talking books I'm working on (and I'm working on one at the moment), classes I'm teaching (I'm giving one tonight and another next month at the LDS Storymakers Conference in Provo, clients I am taking on (I've got two on hold and one coming later this week) plus a bunch of stuff that keeps happening that I really hadn't planned on.
The growth of a tree takes time.
Photo by: Nicholas_T, courtesy of Flickr

If you know about my husband's gallbladder surgery, you'll know a bit of what I mean. I am a wife, mother, a grandmother (my two grandchildren live with me) a church goer (I have a job there, too) and I sometimes wonder how I ever made time for writing.

No matter what anyone else tells you, if you love writing, you'll make time for it. Your writing won't sit on the back burner 24/7 and you'll make time for writing, editing, and publishing. You'll want to speak to others about the craft and take some classes.

And when you feel as if you can't do another thing, God will give you a break. It may mean that you get sick, or your husband gets sick, or you are so overwhelmed that you spend the day watching television or getting a pedicure.

Photo by: cstrom, courtesy of Flickr
But if you don't take some quiet time for yourself, be assured the time for thoughtful reflection will occur one way or another.

No boredom here. No wondering what to do with yourself. Because something is always provided. Something to keep you growing, like those little plants outside peeking out from the once frozen earth.

I love it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Get Smart: Learning as a Writer

What do you want as a writer?

I discovered this recently when I posted the top 5 blogs I'd written for 2012 and 2013. And what the research has taught me is that writers (most of all) want to learn.

It isn't enough for them to write until their dying day. They want to get better not only by writing but by reading and attending classes and applying what they have learned.

When have you learned that has had the most impact in your writing life?

Photo by: aflcio, courtesy of Flickr
Has it been a conference? When you've borrowed that new writing book from the library? When you've attended that class?

Do you find yourself trying new things like I do, because it's exciting to get out there and do more than sit behind the desk and write?

I LOVE attending conferences, but I also love teaching them. I love teaching one on one, but I also like the energy and ideas that a big group brings.

How do you feel about editing someone's book for free, or writing a review?

When it comes to writing and publishing, the learning curve is as much about making your writing great as it is about helping someone else to make their work great.

Photo by: Philip Taylor PT, courtesy of Flickr
When was the last time you taught a class for FREE or agreed to work with a new writer one on one for a couple of hours without asking for money?

True, if you have a business like I do, you're in it to make some money so that you don't have to get that job at McDonald's, but there is something beautiful and fine about that free visit with a writer.

I give writer's a free visit the first time they come to me for any writing service. I like to do this, because I learn quickly if the writer and I are a good fit, and I can assist them in their project even if we're not an especially good fit by directing them to someone else. I learn loads too; about writing styles, writer personalities, and what gets individuals excited about writing.

I love to give free classes too. Have you ever taught a class and realized you were learning along with the class? This happens to me all of the time.

Being smart as a writer isn't always about writing. It's about learning and it's about reaching out.