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/.

 

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Another look at book signings

TroublesigningAnother look at book signings

by Judy Alter

We’ve all been there—the book signing from hell. You sit at a table, maybe by the door of the store, behind a stack of books and smile at people as they go by. Most try to avoid looking you in the eye. A few smile, and some even stop to pick up your book, flip it over and read the back copy, then smile again and put it down, perhaps with a polite, “Maybe after I browse.” In two hours, you’re lucky if you sell two books, and then the store manager comes with six or eight books for you to sign and leave behind. And that’s it. Maybe you’ve driven thirty miles to get to this event, bought a new outfit, had your hair done. You may well be out much more than you earned.

I remember some wretched book signings all too well. At one a friend and I who both wrote about the American West were seated with a gentleman who wrote traditional westerns and dressed the part—boots, jeans, and a big hat. If someone walked by in jeans, he’d call out, “Hey, you look like you like westerns. Let me show you these books.” My friend and I wanted to sink under the table. A few experiences like that are enough to make you swear off book signings.

Indeed in this age of social media, maybe book signings are obsolete. Maybe you should concentrate on the various lists on the net, blogging, guest blogging, and the like.

For my first mystery, I sold 75 books over a two-day signing—but it was a little different. It wasn’t in a bookstore but in a café called The Old Neighborhood Grill, mentioned often in the novel. The owner reserved a table by the door for me and had flyers on hand beforehand. I sent out a newsletter to my mailing list (considerably shorter then) and announced the event on Facebook and Twitter. I put flyers in a few select places but not many stores are willing to give up counter space. I did purchase some plastic frames that you slip a flyer into and put them around, for instance in the local hardware nearby (not a chain but a wonderful eccentric place catering to the needs of owners of old homes—the novel had a lot about Craftsman houses and historic residential districts in it). At the signings, I had book marks and more flyers in those plastic stand-alone frames.

I signed from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, because the owner said that was when the readers came in. Friends actually came to have breakfast and buy books. It was fun and a huge success. Then I signed again from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. the following Monday night. Friends came to chat and have a glass of wine. I did not provide food or wine for either event, which was a huge help to my bottom line, and nobody seemed to mind. Many were Grill regulars, and they expected to pay for their food. The events also brought new people to the Grill and a steady stream of customers, so the owner was pleased to provide the space at no charge.

Subsequent signings have been good but not that good. I scheduled one for a night when the weather turned bitter, and the increasing sale of ebooks has cut into the signing party market. Unfortunately for some time there’s been a gap of six months or more between ebook and print publication (my publisher promises to remedy that in the year to come).

But I remain optimistic about signing parties that move out of the bookstore box. Even if you don’ t sell many books, you draw attention to your work. And you can have a great time!

Blurb for Murder at the Tremont House (launching Feb. 27MurderattheTremontHouse-md(2)

When free-lance journalist Sara Jo Cavanaugh comes to Wheeler to do an in-depth study of Kate’s town for a feature on small-town America, Kate senses she will be trouble. Sara Jo stays at the B&B, Tremont House, run by Kate’s sister, Donna, and unwittingly drives a further wedge into Donna’s marriage to Wheeler’s mayor Tom Bryson. And soon she’s spending way too much time interviewing high school students, one young athlete in particular. Police chief Rick Samuels ignores Kate’s instinct, but lawyer David Clinkscales, her former boss from Dallas, takes it more seriously.

Sara Jo arouses animosity in Wheeler with the personal, intrusive questions she asks, and when she is found murdered, the list of suspects is long. But Kate heads the list, and she must clear her name, with the help of David and Rick. A second murder confirms that someone is desperate, and now Rick is convinced Kate is in danger.

There’s a love triangle, a cooking school, a kidnapping, a broken marriage, and a lot of adventure before the threads of this mystery are untangled, and Wheeler can go back to being a peaceful small town. If it ever does.

Recipes included.

Author Bio

Murder at Tremont House is the second Blue Plate Mystery from award-winning novelist Judy Alter, following the successful Murder at the Blue Plate Café. Judy is also the author of four books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, Trouble in a Big Box, and Danger Comes Home. With the Blue Plate Murder series, she moves from inner city Fort Worth to small-town East Texas to create a new set of characters in a setting modeled after a restaurant that was for years one of her family’s favorites.

Follow Judy at http://www.judyalter.com or her two blogs at http://www.judys-stew.blogspot.com or http://potluckwithjudy.blogspot.com. Or look for on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Judy-Alter-Author/366948676705857?fref=ts or on Twitter where she is @judyalter.

Book trailers and Student Resources by Julie Anne Lindsey

tinyBook trailers and Student Resources by Julie Anne Lindsey

Do you know about book trailers? They’re all the rage now for readers and writers alike. They’re the literary answer to a movie preview. Book trailers are slides or video, plus music and words. People with artistic talent and creative vision put them together to represent a book they love. I’m a book trailer addict. I spend hours on YouTube watching trailers for books I love and discovering new books I need to read as soon as possible. Book trailers are gaining momentum and popping up everywhere books are found. I’m in love with this trend.

When I signed a contract last year for my YA suspense, DECEIVED, I knew I had to have a trailer, too. I wanted to join the exciting league of authors on YouTube. I couldn’t wait! There was one little problem. I had no idea how to make a book trailer. No technical skills to speak of and my artistic talent petered out in preschool. I do words. Only words.

Sadness.

Then, I remembered I’m not an island. I have resources. I contacted my alma mater, Kent State University, and approached Mass Media and Communication students with a proposal. Help this befuddled author with her book trailer and I pinky swear to promote the daylights out of your work. I promised to give them full credit for their efforts, name them on the acknowledgements page inside my book and generally spout my appreciation from the interwebs. The students could use the experience to hone their skills, pad their resumes, and beef up their portfolios. As a bonus, if the book did well, they would benefit from that, too. It was a pretty sweet deal for everyone.

I had no idea.

One young man, then a junior, was interested in making a theatrical trailer. I was open to that. Sure. I had no idea what theatrical trailer meant, but it sounded cool. This student, Matt, wants to work in film after graduation. He will. He’s wonderful. I’ve seen his work first hand and you will too in a minute. Matt did the unthinkable. He spent his time recruiting a cast and crew, developing a script, creating scenes, securing shoot locations and arranging multiple friends’ schedules to accommodate this project. He did this for zero dollars. Yeah. Out of the goodness of his heart. For me, an utter and complete stranger. Delightful as I can be… still.

The finished product was so much more than I could have imagined. I’d hoped for some slides set to music and maybe a little something extra. I didn’t really know. Even as we spoke about what he envisioned, it went over my head. I didn’t get it. Couldn’t get it. My brain doesn’t work that way, but the result is spectacular. I’d love to share his work with you, but first, a final thought. If you need help with something, contact your local college. Students are an untapped resource in the community. Plus, they’re fun.

DECEIVED by Julie Anne LindseyArt._DECEIVED_SL1000_

Ever since she could remember, Elle has had to hop from town to town to keep up with her dad’s demanding career as a corporate insurance agent. Each time, a reoccurring nightmare followed her wherever she went–until the day that the frightening figures haunting her at night became all too real. When news of a serial killer spreads throughout her new school, Elle worries that the Reaper has been leaving her his calling card in the form of cigarette butts on her doormat and an unusual ribbon in her locker. With the help of Brian, a boy she meets at a flea market, she discovers that this isn’t her first encounter with the murderer and that her father has been concealing her true identity for the past twelve years. But despite her father’s desperate attempts to protect her, Elle still comes face to face with the darkness she has been running from her whole life. Trapped in the woods and with help hundreds of miles away, will Elle be able to confront the Reaper and reclaim the life she lost?

Available September 18th on Amazon Barnes & Noble Book Depository and more.

About Julie:

Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. In 2013, Julie welcomes five new releases in three genres including her newest title, DECEIVED, a YA suspense from Merit Press, and her first cozy mystery, MURDER BY THE SEASIDE, book one in the Patience Price, Counselor at Large series from Carina Press (a digital imprint of Harlequin).

Julie is a self-proclaimed word nerd who would rather read than almost anything else. She started writing to make people smile. Someday she plans to change the world. Most days you’ll find her online, amped up on caffeine and wielding a book.

Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW), Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), Sisters in Crime (SinC) and the Canton Writer’s Guild.

Find her online:

Tweeting her crazy @JulieALindsey

Soothing her book obsession on GoodReads

Pinning the pretty on Pinterest

Tumbling lamely on Tumblr

Blogging about books and writing at Musings from the Slush Pile

Facebook

Grey Dawn: A Dulcie Schwartz Feline Mystery By Clea Simon

Simon Clea Grey DawnGrey Dawn: A Dulcie Schwartz Feline Mystery

By Clea Simon

Severn House

June 2013000_Clea.glasses

Harvard Square on a late November night would not have seemed so ominously spooky had Harvard graduate student Dulcie Schwartz not been spending her evenings transcribing the haunting ghost story of a handwritten manuscript possibly written by the author central to Dulcie’s doctoral thesis.  However, the need to grade the student papers that she had forgotten in her office sends her back to the campus building and has her braving the lonely night and jumping at the sound that seems all to reminiscent of a wolf’s howl.  A startling confrontation with her advisor Martin Thorpe frightens her into a sprint home, a childish reaction that seems all too sensible when she learns the following day that a woman was attacked that night barely two blocks away and Thorpe denies ever having been present nearby.

Even more disconcerting is Dulcie’s discovery that the woman had red-hair like herself and eerily enough like the “flame-haired” character in the manuscript.  While Dulcie’s boyfriend Chris Sorenson attempts to reassure her she is extremely disturbed by the combination of her melodramatic mother’s prophetic warning to be wary of the wolf and the possible ghostly cautioning by Dulcie’s beloved cat Grey.  Grey may no longer live in this world but his protective spirit has never left Dulcie and continues to guide and appear whenever she needs him the most.

Simon perfectly combines gothic elements with an academic mystery to create a completely unique and compelling novel.  All of the characteristics of classic gothic mysteries that are present in the manuscript Dulcie studies come vividly to life in her own world, but she is comforted by the thoughts of her new kitten Esme and the always protective spirit of Grey.  Just as entertaining are the infighting and political machinations that exist in an Ivy League college and have her advisor’s position at risk to more popular academics with impressive published accreditations to their names.  The relaxed pace of the novel appropriately falls in line with a classic gothic novel and builds up to a surprising confrontation that threatens both Dulcie’s life and the work she is determined to complete.  This is a very unique mystery that blends aspects of gothic novels and academic mysteries and will please readers with affection for compassionate and protective animal companions.

Does Promotion Work for Small Press Authors?

PJ Nunn

I get asked similar questions quite a bit and the topic came up yet again today so I thought I’d take a minute or two and share my thoughts with you here.

If you’re reading this, you already know how competitive it is out there. Getting attention for a single title – whether print or ebook – is like trying to identify a particular grain of sand on an endless beach. Some days it really feels hopeless. How can a little-known, small press or self-published author successfully promote his or her book to the point that there’s a visible increase in sales?

I wish I had an easy answer. If anyone tells you there is one, don’t believe them. First of all, understand that while writers and those within the book industry seem inordinately aware of who the publisher is of any title, readers can rarely tell you who published the book they just read. In fact, in working with broadcast media, they rarely ask me about the publisher. Truth is, they just don’t seem to care. Stores care. Libraries care. Newspapers care. There are ways around that.

So, while there is a negative stereotype against self-published books and small presses within the industry (gasp! Not everyone feels that way, but some do), it doesn’t preclude successful promotion efforts. It can, however, make it seem impossible to have a chance at getting your book on many or any store shelves. There are ways around that, too. And, since these days, nobody’s book is in every store, you have a good chance of getting yours in some stores if you really want that. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

If you’ve heard you’re at a disadvantage because your publisher can’t afford to do much marketing, guess what? NO publisher these days can afford to do much marketing. I work with several large publishers in addition to the small press and self-published authors I represent. In the last five years I’ve seen many in-house publicists laid off while those that remained took on twice and even three times the client load they once had. For the same pay. Yikes! Every one I work with tries really hard to get good attention for their authors, but one person can only do so much, even when I often talk to them still in the office at 6 or 7 pm “just finishing up one more project”.

That said, when books from small presses, or any presses, fail to achieve much recognition these days, it’s usually more a problem of too little promotion or too intense in a short time. Slow and steady is what wins the race these days. Repeat, consistent exposure. Too much too soon can make it feel like you’re getting somewhere, but six weeks after the blitz, will anyone remember you? Have you ever heard a short author interview on the radio during drive time on the way to work and swerved off the highway in search of a bookstore to buy the book you just heard about? I know I haven’t.  But I have tucked the name away in my mind if it sounded interesting, then promptly forgot about it later. UNTIL a few weeks down the road maybe I heard it again on another program. Or saw a review of it in the paper. Or maybe just happened to catch a tweet about it online. If the name keeps popping up, sooner or later I’ll pay attention. And so will somebody else.

Because it’s unlikely that anyone will rush out and buy your book the very first time they see your name or title, it’s hard to gauge the success of a campaign. But in the 14 years I’ve been doing this, it’s invariably the ones who just keep going who ultimately build a following and see sales increase. Granted it doesn’t come overnight or without effort, but if you do it right and keep doing it, it will pay off. The question then is how bad do you want it and how much is it worth?

That can be hard to calculate because it’s almost impossible to judge which promotional effort affected which sales. Still, if you’re diligent, you can estimate your cost and approximately how many books you need to sell to cover it. The main problem is you can still be reaping sales for months after the fact. I suggest that you take time to figure out what you make on the sale of each book so you can determine what your sales goals are for a twelve month period. Or until you estimate your next book will come out. Once you’ve determined a realistic sales goal, make sure your promo budget stays beneath that figure. That way you can plan a campaign that won’t put undue financial strain on you, but will still assist you in getting the job done.

At one time, a few years back, the average lifetime sales of a self-published or small press title was 200 – 500 copies. That’s all. IF the book is trade paper and sells for $14.95, and IF you make a 15% royalty ($2.24 per copy) and IF you sell 500 copies, you’ll gross a whopping $1,120. If your only real promotional expense is postage you’ll turn a profit, but most have a few more expenses than that, even without hiring someone like me. So how can you make that work? Obviously you have to sell quite a few more books. Selling 1500 instead of 500 raises your gross to $3,360. Double that at 3000 and so on. Those are reasonable goals. Of course we’d all love to break that 100,000 mark but it might be best to aim a little lower the first time. Like someone once said, if you aim for heaven and fall a little short, you’ll still have reached the sky!

Once you have that budget established, you can map out a campaign to fit. I always promote the author more than any one title, but I do focus on the latest title, unless there’s a special audience that might be more interested in a previous book for some reason. The goal is to make your name familiar so that ultimately when a reader hears you have a new book out they’ll want to read it, whatever its title is. I’ve found a lot of authors would rather focus entirely on the book and don’t like to feel they’re promoting themselves. And other authors, who don’t mind promoting themselves, sometimes come across as conceited and abrasive. There’s a fine line and it’s important for you to learn how to put yourself out there gracefully. In order to accomplish that, we’d want to target several different markets in a variety of venues. Establish yourself as an expert and a professional so that media hosts want to talk to you, journalists want to interview you and store personnel want to get to know you. Most of all, readers will want to read your book!

Back to books not being in stores – that’s the way of the future at this point. There are so many more books being released each month, and so many fewer stores that it’s difficult to get books on the shelves unless you’re touring. Even then it can be a challenge, because so many stores don’t do signing events anymore and it’s so expensive to travel, but it’s doable. The more reasonable goal for most is to make sure they know about your books and know how to order them. That’s one way radio interviews can be of help.

If at all possible, we contact independent stores in the area when we schedule you for a radio interview and ask them to order in a few copies, then make sure you mention on the air that the book is available at such and such a store. Most stores (particularly independent stores) are happy to get the free mention on the radio, and often they’ll continue to carry your books long after. That’s just one way. It can seem endless thinking you have to do that one store at a time, but book promotion is nothing if not a snowball effect. One event builds on another then another and after a while, you’ve created a good trail. It doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t come quick, but it will come as long as the book is good.

Only one thing is truly a guarantee – if you don’t promote it, you won’t sell many. So stop thinking about reasons why promotion won’t work for you, and start finding ways that it can!

10 Ways to Raise the Bar on Book Promotion

PJ Nunn

Book promotion today isn’t what it was 20 years ago. Or even 10 years ago. The industry keeps changing and evolving, making it increasingly difficult to get your book to stand out amongst the tens of thousands that are published each month. Once upon a time, that was the publisher’s concern. Today, that’s no longer the case. Authors now must excel in an additional arena, since writing a great book isn’t enough to assure record sales.

The good news is it doesn’t take a lot of effort to rise above the ordinary.

  1. Go back to the good old days. In today’s fast-paced, digital age of communication, there’s something to be said for a hand-written thank you note or a friendly phone call. Authors who take the time to say thank you after a signing event, book review or a broadcast interview are still in the HUGE minority. In a time when just about everyone I know has, at one time or another, been annoyed at too many emails or text messages, I’ve never once heard anyone complain upon receipt of a sincere “thank you.” Sure, you might say, that’s a nice thing to do, but does it really help promote my book? If you’re one of a handful of authors among hundreds who make a good impression by going that extra mile, who do you think that bookseller will remember favorably?
  2. Recognize your activities as a business, not a necessary evil or something that just has to be done. You may feel that way, and have every right to feel whatever you feel, but as my daddy taught me when I was small, you don’t have to tell everything you know. Sometimes, in book promotion, what you DON’T say can be as important as what you do.
  3. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.
  4. Be active in popular social networking venues, but don’t spend all your time there. I’m for promoting books long after the pub date, but if you want a career as an author, there should always be something new in the works. That means your time has to be well managed.
  5. Shop around. You want independent booksellers to shelve your books and recommend them to their customers? Make a point of ordering from those booksellers periodically.
  6. If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. OR if you want to keep getting what you’re getting, just keep doing what you’re doing. Either way, the point is that if you want to move up to a new level, you’re going to have to climb out of your comfort zone somewhere along the way.
  7. Make connections with others in the industry who get the kind of results you’d like to get. Ours is a very giving industry so don’t hesitate to ask questions, but it’s important to know the source. In other words, if you’re wondering how to make your book signing events more successful, don’t just ask at random. Ask authors who consistently have successful signing events.
  8. Study the craft of promotion and make it personal. What works for one doesn’t work for all. It’s important for you to learn your strengths, staff your weaknesses and improve any areas that are unfamiliar. If you’ve not had broadcast experience (and most of us haven’t), take time to study the art of giving a good interview. If you’ve only attended one or two signing events in all your life, attend more.
  9. Understand that in some ways, persistence is worth more than talent. I realize that’s not a popular opinion, but I have seen too many talented authors give up because of unrealistic expectations. Some of them aren’t writing at all anymore and that’s too bad. Of course talent is important, but who’s going to read your work and recognize your talent if they’ve never seen or heard about your book? Experts say it takes up to 14 times for someone to hear and retain a name. Repeat exposure is what pays off in the long run. Few, if any, people rush out to buy a book the very first time they hear the title or the author’s name. Schedule some activity that gets your name in front of a reading audience every month and keep doing that.
  10. Read a new book every month. I’m amazed at how many writers tell me they don’t have time to read anything but their own work. Bad mistake. First, I hope you’ll always make time to read for sharpening your own writing skill. Then I hope you’ll read to keep abreast of what type of books are selling in the current market. Lastly, I hope you will always squeeze time out for reading for pleasure. It’ll keep you fresh and satisfied.

One thing I’ve learned in this business – what works for one, doesn’t always work for all. There is no one size fits all promotional garment. Unless you’re looking for something that fits like a muu muu. It may take some tailoring to find the fit that works best for you, but it will be well worth the effort and the result, in the long run, will be increased sales. It may come slow and sure, but it will come with persistence and consistency. If I can answer any questions or help you in any way, you know where to find me.

PJ