Promoting Two People by Peg Herring

30HerringsmI once heard an author say she’d contracted for three series at the same time and didn’t recommend it to those who want to keep their sanity. Being a slow learner, I went right out and did that, adding the Dead Detective and Loser Mysteries to my existing series with Five Star, the Simon & Elizabeth Mysteries. My excuse for series-jumping is that it keeps me interested. While I love reading Sue Grafton’s work, I can’t imagine writing an alphabet of books with the same protagonist.

Writing three series was hard—actually, it still is. I have a Dead Detective and a Simon & Elizabeth yet to write, and while fans are polite about it, their questions hint that they wonder what I do all day that keeps me from getting that next book done. I eat, I sleep, I walk in the woods–and I write. There’s one thing that slows my production of Peg Herring mysteries. In a moment of insanity, I invented Maggie Pill.

Peg’s books are traditional mysteries with touches of humor. The series are different from each other: one’s historical, one’s paranormal, and one presents a homeless woman as protagonist. A while ago, an idea came along for The Sleuth Sisters, a light mystery that fits into the cozy mystery category. Two middle-aged sisters open a detective agency, but they don’t want their bossy third sister involved. She doesn’t get why, so she insists on helping out. Everyone with sisters can relate, at least a little, to the resulting humor.

When a really good idea comes along, it’s hard to keep it on the back burner, so I wrote The Sleuth Sisters. It was a huge hit, so I wrote another one 150x225SSand did a Bookbub promotion, giving away Book #1 just before Book #2 debuted. Downloads ran over 60,000, and sales of Book #2 responded well afterward. When I had Book #3 ready, I did the same, giving away Book #2. That also went well, and the series is one of my most lucrative.

That’s great, except now I have two authors to promote. That means two websites, two FB pages, two Twitter handles, two of everything. At the beginning I kept Maggie and Peg entirely separate, since I didn’t want Peg, who has good reviews and even some awards, to be embarrassed if Maggie’s attempts at humor fizzled. When it turned out Maggie is in the popular authors’ group, I decided we can be seen together in public.

Still, promoting two “selves” is a lot of work. Amazon doesn’t seem to have a good way for anyone except James Patterson to show up in searches, so it’s work to let people know about each book, each series, and now each author. Facebook provides good opportunities, because friends tell friends about books they like. The site’s gone from a young demographic to a not-so-young one these days, which means there are lots of readers there who can identify with the Sleuth Sisters. Many FB groups have cozy in their titles, so it’s easy to find them, and most hosts are accommodating of self-promotion as long as it isn’t overdone.

There aren’t as many FB groups devoted to traditional mystery, perhaps because that’s a wider field. Peg does better at Goodreads, with giveaways and blogging about writing. Both of us use Twitter, but neither of us is very good at it, possibly it due to its impersonal feel.

Fans suggested I make the Sleuth Sisters into audiobooks, and that worked out well, except it’s difficult to find places to promote audiobooks. I’ve used http://audavoxx.com, where authors give one of their free codes from Audible (and a small fee) to be featured in a weekly giveaway. Also, Mystery Audiobook Lovers on FB is a site for audiobook news, helping people learn what’s new in audio.

SLsmallAll that helps, but there are days when I feel like being two people requires the work of six: blogging, updating, signing, speaking, answering, not to mention writing. Maybe I should have gone the Lee Child route. Then all I’d have to do is say “HERE’S ANOTHER JACK REACHER” and I’d be done.

This morning someone asked when Maggie’s fourth book will be out. The answer? Sometime after Peg finishes the last Dead Detective Mystery. To everything there is a season.

Making Research Pay by Jeff Marks

JEFF1023When I’m not writing fiction, I also write a series of biographies and histories about mystery as well. This takes me to different parts of the country, talking to relatives of the subjects or looking at their papers in a library. While sitting in the library reading old letters may not sound as much fun as bumping off a few characters, research has its rewards. Research can also help promote your works and improve your sales too.

One of the first ways that I increase my promotions from the research is to donate a copy of the book to any library where I’ve done research. Most of the libraries request that you do this, but there’s no stiff penalty if you don’t. Packs of librarians do not show up at your door demanding payment.

However, if you decide to mail the book, in most cases the library publishes a newsletter that includes a list of books received. So you’ve created an audience for your book by announcing it to people who are involved with the library or have used the library’s resources before.

Another way to do benefit from research is to write articles related to the research you do. After finishing my biography of Erle Stanley Gardner, I wrote a piece on the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas – Austin for a biographers’ newsletter. Not only did it get my name out there, I was providing a service in telling other researchers about the resources at the HRC.

I’ve also written pieces for the Mystery Readers Journal, Mystery Scene and have been quoted as an expert on Gardner’s series work. Not only are people more inclined to look up the book after reading about my research, they’re also more likely to remember my name and perhaps locate other books by me. My Boucher biography allowed me to write a short piece on Boucher that’s been used many times in relationship to Bouchercon, where thousands of fans and writers see my name.

Even in writing fiction this is possible. Consider the things that you need to learn in order to write that novel. If you needed to learn about poisons, maybe you could write an article about untraceable poisons. Or if you had to learn about food trucks to add background to your novel, then you could pitch an article to a food truck newsletter.

I also talk about my experiences when I’m researching. I found fascinating information about Gardner at the HRC, which was stored in a paper grocery bag. That can serve as a lesson that the best information can come from the most unlikely sources. I’m currently writing a piece about how I found and was allowed to read the lie detector test results from Gardner’s work with Dr. Sam Sheppard (the murder case which inspired the TV series and movie The Fugitive. Go look it up now! – I’ll wait.) How exciting to find a piece of true crime history like that.

So when you’re using social media to promote your books, don’t forget the other outlets that are available to you for promoting your work. Writing articles can be a great way to build an audience and present yourself as an expert in the field, all while being paid for your pieces!

 

Jeffrey Marks is a long-time mystery fan and freelancer.  After numerous mystery author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer Craig Rice.

That biography (Who Was That Lady?) encouraged him to write mystery fiction. His works include Atomic Renaissance: Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s/1950s, and a biography of mystery author and critic Anthony Boucher entitled Anthony Boucher. It was nominated for an Agatha and fittingly, won an Anthony.

He is the author of Intent to Sell: Marketing the Genre Novel, the only how-to book for promoting genre fiction.

His work has won a number of awards including the Barnes and Noble Prize and he was nominated for a Maxwell award (DWAA), an Edgar (MWA), three Agathas (Malice Domestic), two Macavity awards, and three Anthony awards (Bouchercon). Today, he writes from his home in Cincinnati, which he shares with his spouse and two dogs.

 

 

Why Do I Need Twitter? By Lorie Ham

promophotoI have been writing forever, and have five published mystery novels. I have always tried to stay on top of what sort of free publicity there is out there because like all of us my budget for promotion has been small to nothing.

 

Five years ago, I ventured out into a new area of publishing–I now publish an online magazine called Kings River Life. Again faced with pretty much a zero promotion budget, and the fact that if no one knows we are there no one will read us–I began researching even more what was out there. This has also given me the opportunity to see the results of what others do as well. We publish a lot of book reviews and I can tell you right now that the authors who understand the importance of not only Facebook, but also Twitter, are the ones who bring readers over to read those reviews. I would imagine this also translates into more sales for the author in other areas too. I have seen our reviews of the books of older, big name authors, who have refused to jump on board with social media get very few hits. While at the same time, I have seen an indie, or even a self-published, author who has embraced social media, get a lot of hits on our review of their book.

 

Yes, we still need to write a quality book or else even if you can get everyone to read the first book, they won’t be coming back for more. But these days we have to let the world know we are out there and there’s no better, or more inexpensive way, than social media.

 

Now I’ve also seen those who only embrace Facebook, and at least they are doing that. But they say they just don’t get Twitter or don’t like Twitter. Well learning about Twitter is now part of the job and it really doesn’t matter if we like it. Facebook loves to put up road blocks to promotion because they want us all to pay them money for ads now, so while it still has value for promotion, it doesn’t have nearly the value it used to have. That is why I love Twitter and am moving to focus more of my efforts there. There’s also the fact that people who follow you on Twitter are expecting to hear about your books–that’s why they follow you. So they aren’t going to complain that they are getting spammed like they might with email, or complain that the only reason you are on there is for promotion like some do on Facebook. That IS why you are there and that is why they are following you. They want to know about your latest book.

 

However, there are some things to keep in mind about Twitter. A lot of the people following you want more than just promo. They want fun tidbits thrown their way–info about your books, or your characters, or maybe even you, that they won’t get anywhere else. Or maybe special giveaways just for them! So don’t just tweet that your latest book is out, or that a review is up–give them something more. Really, that’s what most people want who like your page on Facebook too–you need to give them a reason to keep checking your page, or following you.

 

And there’s also the fact that we are all busier now, and the young people of today have much shorter attention spans, so people of today are more krl_logo(2)originallikely to keep up with you on Twitter, which only allows for something short. I have to admit–I pay way more attention to what’s on Twitter than Facebook from just a personal standpoint.

 

A great example of an author who knows how to do Twitter right is Cleo Coyle. Check out her Twitter at @CleoCoyle. I also hope you check out and follow Kings River Life on Twitter as we share every week about our articles and mystery book giveaways-you can find us at @kingsriverlife. My hope with KRL’s Twitter is to be including even more fun extra things later this year. I hope you also check out the magazine as we have a big mystery section with mystery reviews, book giveaways, articles, and short stories up every week http://www.kingsriverlife.com.

 

So if you have been dragging your feet when it comes to Twitter I’m here to say stop it! Get yourself over to Twitter and start learning how to do it and start engaging your readers. It’s part of the job now! Best of luck.

 

Lorie Lewis Ham has been publishing her writing since the age of 13 & singing since the age of 5. She worked for her local newspaper off and on for years, and in 2010 became the editor-in-chief and publisher of Kings River Life Magazine http://www.KingsRiverLife.com. She has also published 5 mystery novels–you can learn more about her mystery writing on her blog http://mysteryratscloset.blogspot.com/.

 

What is a QR code and why use it? Karen McCullough

 

qr 

A QR code is that odd looking dappled square you see on ads and other things, usually with the words, “Scan for more information” somewhere nearby. Most people who have smart phones (and that’s a pretty significant percentage of the population these days) have an app that lets them scan QR codes. Once the code has been read, it redirects the app to a specific web address.

How can an author make use of QR codes?

When I go to a conference or convention, like most authors I take brochures and postcards with me. Each piece has a QR code on it, different ones for the cards versus the brochures. The codes go to special pages on my website that aren’t linked from anywhere else. But the pages are tracked by Google Analytics, so after the conference, I can use Google Analytics to tell me how many times the page was viewed, which tells me how much interest each piece is getting. It’s helpful to know whether a brochure or postcard is attracting attention and I can adjust what I do next time.

I also put a QR code on bookmarks, which I mostly send out via mail. I find that they don’t get picked up from swag tables, since there are usually dozens of piles of different ones, but I put an offer for them on my website.

It sounds like it would be complicated to create a QR code, but it isn’t really.  Here’s a step by step way to do it:

For each code, first, create a new page on your website. Either have your web person do it for you, or if you maintain your own site, add a new page. If you use WordPress, make the page a private one so it isn’t linked on the menu. Make note of the full link to the page, starting with http://.

Then go to one of these web sites:

http://www.qrstuff.com/

http://www.qr-code-generator.com/

There are plenty of other sites you can find by Goodling “QR Code Generator.”

You plug in the full page URL for the page you created and the site will show you the code graphic it has created from the URL you plugged in. Most sites will have a link to download an image of the graphic; some will give you a choice of formats. Unless you’re comfortable working with graphics, I suggest you download the image as a .jpeg or .jpg file. Save it to your desktop or some other place you’ll know where to find it again.

If you’ve hired someone to design your pieces for you, you just need to send that jpeg file to them. If you design your own graphics, then you know how to insert the image into the piece you’re designing.

If you don’t have a Google Analytics account to let you track the page views, I strongly suggest you sign up now. The amount of information you can get about who is visiting your website is just amazing!

 

By the way, you can read a QR code off the screen and the one above with the post should take you to a page of special offers on my website.

 

Karen McCullough’s wide-ranging imagination makes her incapable of sticking to one genre for her storytelling. As a result, she’s the author of more Detectives_Dilemma_200than a dozen published novels and novellas, which span the mystery, fantasy, paranormal, and romantic suspense genres. A former computer programmer who made a career change into being an editor with an international trade publishing company for many years, she now runs her own web design business to support her writing habit. Awards she’s won include an Eppie Award for fantasy; three other Eppie finals; Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards, and an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest. This year her romantic suspense novel, The Detective’s Dilemma is a finalist for a Daphne duMaurier Award. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.

 

Website: http://www.kmccullough.com

Blog: http://www.kmccullough/kblog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarenMcCulloughAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kgmccullough

 

 

The Detective’s Dilemma

 

Blurb: Although Sarah Anne Martin admits to pulling the trigger, she swears someone forced her to kill her lover. Homicide detective Jay Christianson is skeptical, but enough ambiguous evidence exists to make her story plausible. If he gives her enough freedom, she’ll either incriminate herself or draw out the real killers. But, having been burned before, Jay doesn’t trust his own protective instincts…and his growing attraction to Sarah only complicates matters.

With desire burning between them, their relationship could ultimately be doomed since Sarah will be arrested for murder if Jay can’t find the real killer.

Buy Links:

http://www.amazon.com/Detectives-Dilemma-Karen-McCullough-ebook/dp/B00OA9WFQY/
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-detectives-dilemma-karen-mccullough/1120500707?ean=9781616506520
http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/book.aspx/31106?category=313166

 

 

Phrases that Pay By Jennifer J. Chow

 

mystery book headshotI love collecting phrases. That’s probably why I start every Monday blog post with a fortune cookie saying. My adoration of expressions also works well with understanding book marketing. Here are my top three picks for authors:

 

  1. “The best things in life are free.” = Give away stuff.
  • Free books:

I enrolled my new cozy mystery in KDP Select and used their Free Book Promotion tool. By placing announcements in bargain newsletters like Awesomegang, Ebookasauraus, and Readcheaply (for free), I gave away thousands of copies. Although I didn’t earn a dime on those downloads, my Amazon ranking shot up and resulted in increased sales, Kindle Unlimited borrows, and reader reviews. If you’re not interested in KDP Select, you can use Goodreads or Amazon Giveaway to create book buzz.

 

  • Free swag:

Everybody enjoys freebies. I like creating literary souvenirs (e.g. bookmarks) and wrapping gift baskets. These physical promotional items have brought me increased exposure at author readings, writing conventions, and on book blogs.

 

  • Free content:

I enjoy learning new things. On my blog, I attempt to incorporate both educational and entertaining tidbits. I do likewise with my monthly e-newsletter, and I think it’s helped me retain and attract new subscribers. (Hint: Those email lists are priceless when it comes to informing readers about a new book release.)

 

  1. “Birds of a feather flock together.” = Join a group.
  • Genre groups:

It’s helpful to connect with authors who write in your genre. I’m really happy to be a part of Sisters in Crime. The group has given me insight into the mystery industry and provided connections to fellow writers, who have offered invaluable marketing tips and support.

 

  • Author groups:

I’ve been involved with smaller publishers who’ve taken the time to build up a community for their authors. These fellow scribes often offer cross-promotional activities.

 

  • Online groups:

I’m proud to be a part of Binders and Wordsmith Studio. Online writing buddies are masters of social media and spread the word in the virtual realm. They’re also quick to offer feedback on writing questions and provide a great venue for crowdsourcing.

 

  1. “Jack of all trades, master of none.” = Show your uniqueness.

 

  • Specialized Media:

Since I’m an Asian-American writer, I like to find press opportunities that offer cultural coverage. Reporters at these newspapers and magazines are more likely to follow up with me. For example, I’ve been featured in Asian American Press, World Journal, Pacific Times, and Northwest Asian Weekly.

 

  • Targeted Organizations:

My debut novel featured a Taiwanese-American family. As such, I’m able to connect with groups like Taiwanese American Professionals and North America Taiwanese Women’s Association and go to their special events. I’ve sold many copies at these outings.

 

  • Distinctive Theme:

My first book was inspired by Taiwan’s history—specifically, The 228 Massacre. I’ve been invited to speak at annual memorial events every year since my book has been published.

 

I hope you find something useful from these reflections. Now “go the whole nine yards” with your marketing efforts.

 

 

Jennifer J. Chow, an Asian-American writer, holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Master’s in Social Welfare from UCLA. Her geriatric work experience influences her stories. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Her debut novel, The 228 Legacy, won Honorable Mention in the 2015 San Francisco Book Festival and was a 2013 Finalist for Foreword Reviews’ Book of the Year Award. She also writes the Winston Wong mysteries under the name of J.J. Chow. The first in the series, Seniors Sleuth, won Runner-Up in the 2015 Beach Book Festival.

Seniors Sleuth summary:

Runner-Up, 2015 Beach Book Festival  Front Cover of Seniors Sleuth

 

 

Winston Wong used to test video games but has left his downward spiraling career to follow in the footsteps of Encyclopedia Brown, his favorite childhood detective. When the Pennysaver misprints his new job title, adding an extra “s” to his listing, Winston becomes a “Seniors Sleuth.” He gets an easy first case, confirming the natural death of a ninety-year-old man. However, under the surface of the bingo-loving senior home is a seedier world where a genuine homicide actually occurred. Winston finds himself surrounded by suspects on all sides: a slacker administrator, a kind-hearted nurse, and a motley crew of eccentric residents. To validate his new career choice (and maybe win the girl), he must unravel the truth from a tangle of lies.

 

Links:

Author website: www.jenniferjchow.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenJChow

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenJChow

From quill to social media – what a leap! by Triss Stein

JPGphoto SteinSocial media finally caught up with me in 2013, when Poisoned Pen Press published Brooklyn Bones. While it is a rumor started by my nearest and dearest that I would prefer to write with a quill pen, it is true that I am not excited by technology. Now I had to deal with it and the way it has changed book marketing.  I wrote a blog about my experiences then. With another book, Brooklyn Graves out, and Brooklyn  Secrets scheduled for December, I thought it was time to update with what I have – I hope! – learned.

(The italicized sentences are from 2013.)

 

Our bookish world is changing so fast it’s hard to keep up. While I feel as if I have achieved something with Facebook, my own website and madly guest blogging, whooshing right past me are Twitter, Pinterest and other sites and activities yet to be named.  (By me. I know they are already out there and have names.)

 

I actually used this idea in the forthcoming book, Brooklyn Secrets (Dec, 2015.) My protagonist’s daughter finds some crucial information out on the Web and doesn’t bother explaining how.  She just says, “Leave it to me. You wouldn’t understand.”   That is how I finessed the likelihood that by the time the book comes out, there will be even newer modes of social media, and I could never be really up to date.

 

I hired someone to set up a web site for me. And I kind of liked creating and updating it.

 

That website is overdue for an update and this time I have hired someone with real experience designing author sites. The first result was what I wanted at the time, but even I can see it is not doing the job I need it to do.  Plus, the marketing person at my publisher says it needs to be more interactive.

 

 Then I joined FaceBook after years of refusing to consider it. And I kind of like it, too.  I understand  what  it is: it takes the place  of water cooler conversations at work. 

 

In fact, it takes that place much too well for me as the only thing I miss about having a day job is the social interaction. My new rule needs to be FaceBook after productive  writing – after!-  and not instead of .  (Anyone else noticed this issue?)

 

Well, that hasn’t changed. Facebook continues to be a way-too-attractive nuisance, perfect for purposes of procrastination. 

 

It culminated by promoting Brooklyn Bones the old-fashioned way. In person! I had a launch party at Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan.

 

I had another book launch party at Mysterious Bookshop for the next book, Brooklyn Graves. We had cookies with the book cover on them. They looked terrific and tasted pretty good, too.  The party was definitely fun and we sold some books.

 

What else?  I am going to some of the fan conventions. This year at Malice Domestic, a number of people – not friends or family! – had my books and wanted me to sign them. So maybe this is all working.

 

Brooklyn Secrets  will be not quite out in time for Bouchercon 2015 in October.  I am hoping that if I go, speak on a panel, talk to lots of people – Brooklyn Secrets Coverwith giveaways in hand – it will generate some interest anyway.

 

What else have I learned?

 

  • remember to cross promote. Post regular and guest blog info on Facebook, DorothyL.and other listservs. I probably need to put this reminder right on my computer screen!
  • SAVE all pr information. I had a computer meltdown, and the pr folder for Brooklyn Graves, handy on my screen desk,  disappeared forever
  • Finally, the scariest task. I made an appointment to get a new photo taken. After twenty years, that too needs an update. Wish me luck.

 

Perhaps I can come back in two years and report on the new lessons learned.

 

 

Triss Stein is a small–town girl from New York farm country who has spent most of her adult life in New York, the city. This gives her the useful double vision of a stranger and a resident for writing mysteries about Brooklyn, her ever-fascinating, ever-changing, ever-challenging adopted home. Brooklyn Graves is the most recent, and Brooklyn Secrets will be out from Poisoned Pen Press in December, 2015. It is available for pre-order now.

 

Find me on Facebook or my web page: http://trissstein.com/

 

Brooklyn Graves 2A brutally murdered friend who was a family man with not an enemy in the world. A box full of charming letters home, written a century ago by an unknown young woman working at the famed Tiffany studios. Historic Green-Wood cemetery, where a decrepit mausoleum with stunning stained glass windows is now off limits, even to a famed art historian.

 

Suddenly, all of this, from the tragic to the merely eccentric, becomes part of Erica Donato’s life. She is a close friend of the murdered man’s family and feels compelled to help them. She is arbitrarily assigned to catalogue the valuable letters for an arrogant expert visiting the history museum where she works. She is the person who took that same expert to see the mausoleum windows.

 

Her life is full enough. She is a youngish single mother of a teen, an oldish history grad student, lowest person on the museum’s totem pole. She doesn’t need more responsibility, but she gets it anyway as secrets start emerging in the most unexpected places: an admirable life was not what it seemed, confiding letters conceal their most important story and too many people have hidden agendas.

 

In Brooklyn Graves a story of old families, old loves and hidden ties merges with new crimes and the true value of art, against the background of the splendid old cemetery and the life of modern Brooklyn.

Using Kindle Scout for Promotion by Jim Jackson

james-m-jacksonWhen Kindle Scout first appeared in October 2014, it was dissed by many publication professionals as an inexpensive way for Amazon to make more money from authors. Many authors, including me, disagreed that authors could not benefit from the new program.

The Kindle Scout program provides authors who planned to self-publish a hybrid alternative.

If Kindle Press accepts your book, they provide a $1,500 advance for worldwide electronic rights and digital audio rights. [If you are interested in the particulars you can find out more about the Kindle Scout program here and the specifics of the contract here.] Skeptics point out Amazon was cherry-picking and that authors were shackling themselves to all the disadvantages of limiting ebook distribution to Amazon without the higher royalties of the KDP program.

These are valid points; however, critics almost uniformly missed one of the huge positives of the program: increased exposure.

I believe my writing is sufficiently strong that if I can get people to read my novels, they will become series fans. The problem, of course, is how to get people to read my book rather than some other equally talented unknown? One approach that worked in the past was to self-publish a book whose primary purpose is to attract attention—a loss leader. Giving free ebooks to thousands of people recognizes that if even a small percentage become fans and buy others of the author’s works, it can produce long-term positive readership increases and financial rewards.

Organizations such as Bookbub have been so successful building their lists of readers that they have been able to increase prices authors (or their publishers) must pay ($400 for a free mystery). They have also become very selective. Anecdotally, I hear Bookbub is now rejecting the vast majority of Indie authors; the deals are going to mainline publishers and Indie authors who have already made it.

A tried-and-true path to increasing readership has suffered a rockslide. Some can get past, but many are stymied.

Kindle Scout appeared to me as a hybrid approach to self-publishing. On the downside, I would give up pricing control, timing control, access to other electronic outlets besides Kindle, and control over digital audio. Royalty rates are lower than through KDP. Balancing that, if I won a contract I would receive a $1,500 advance and benefit from Amazon marketing.

The kicker for me was that regardless of whether I won or not, I would receive thirty days of free publicity as part of the Kindle Scout nomination process, which works like this: You must have a complete, copyedited, novel of at least 50,000 words, and you must have a well-designed book cover. (All of which you need anyway to self-publish.) If the Kindle Press folks accept your book, it is displayed for a thirty-day nomination period. Readers (“Scouts”) can see your cover, read your logline, your bio and a few Q&As, and are provided the beginning of your novel (about 5,000 words).

If they like what they see (or like you), they can nominate the book. If Kindle Press decides to publish the book, they will then receive your novel as a free Kindle ebook.

From a marketing standpoint I thought this has a number of advantages.

  1. During the 30-day nomination period, I could reach out to all my connections and be able to talk about Ant Farm, my Kindle Scout nominated book.
  2. Those interactions were partial self-promotion, but also provided a potential benefit for the readers—a free ebook from someone they knew, or had at least heard of. That made it easier to promote the book.
  3. I printed color handouts (to show off my great book cover) with pertinent information that I could hand to people I met (church, bridge club, neighborhood gatherings, etc.). The personal touch allowed me to find out if they read mysteries, who their favorite authors were, maybe even provide them suggestions of other folks they might like. And of course, when they asked, I could tell them about my novels.
  4. Friends forwarded my emails or social media posts to their friends, extending my networking.
  5. The Amazon Scout display has a category “Hot and Trending” (see here for the current list) that includes roughly the top 20% of the current batch of candidates. Many Scouts check out these books first. By spreading out my promotions, I remained in the “Hot and Trending” about 95% of the time, and Ant Farm gained exposure to a group of people I could never have reached on my own.
  6. It wasn’t in place when I participated, but now, even if a book does not win, those people who nominated it are offered the option to learn when the book is self-published.

Ant Farm did earn a Kindle Press contract with a June 2015 publication date. The print version is also available.AntFarmCoversmall

 

James M. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree novels. ANT FARM (June 2015), a prequel to BAD POLICY (2013) and CABIN FEVER (2014), recently won a Kindle Scout nomination. Ebook published by Kindle Press; print from Wolf’s Echo Press. Find more information about Jim and his writing at http://jamesmjackson.com.

Ant Farm Blurb:

Financial crimes consultant Seamus McCree combats the evil behind the botulism murders of thirty-eight retirees at their picnic outside Chillicothe, OH. He also worms his way into the Cincinnati murder investigation of a church friend’s fiancé and finds police speculate the killing may have been the mistake of a dyslexic hit man.

Seamus uncovers disturbing information of financial chicanery, and in the process makes himself and his son targets of those who have already killed to keep their secrets.