Write On Target


Target-Practice-Judith-Gaines-Writing

Writers seem to have a natural ability to beat themselves up when they are slow to show progress on a story or novel.

There’s a lot to overcome along the way:

  • Finding time
  • Fighting doubts that make you hesitate with each word
  • Discouragement when it seems to be taking too long and your other writer friends are turning out book after book

Last week’s #IndieChat, moderated by BiblioCrunch, talked about motivation. It took awhile, but I finally figured out that the best way for me to stick with something was to track it. When confronted with the evidence of my efforts, or lack there of, I found myself more motivated to make time to write.

There’s science to this approach. Eric Barker talks about this in his blog post How To Motivate Yourself: 3 Steps Backed By Science. Writing down a goal makes it real, and once it’s real we’re more likely to follow through.

When I began writing fiction, I started with a simple spreadsheet. I tracked every day, not just the days I wrote. This showed the progress I lost due to not showing up to the page. I tracked morning pages, as well as word count toward my manuscript. It doesn’t matter how you choose to track progress, whether it’s days written, time spent (minutes writing), or word count. Each can be measured towards a goal.

Here’s a sample of what it looked like.Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 5.37.14 PM

 

Writing Progress Tracker

Click to download this spreadsheet. It’s yours to customize.

 

Make your goals realistic.

Not everyone will be able to write a novel in 30 days, otherwise everyone would win NANOWRIMO badges. If your life is busy, as it is for most of us, set a time length. 30-Minutes 4-5 times a week will give you big leaps in page and word totals. This approach will also work for those intimidated by word count.

If  word count is your thing, set it low — say 500. You’ll find that’s just enough to get you started and often you’ll write much more. If writing is tough for the day, you then have permission to stop at 500 without feeling like you gave up.

Since I adopted Scrivener a few years ago, I gave up my spreadsheet and now use the Project Target and Session Target tools. You even get to set a deadline to hitting your overall project goal. Subtle pressure there, but one I can live with.

If you’ve discovered a good workflow for tracking your writing goals, whether it’s an app or a function within Word or Pages, please share in the comments.

One Last Tip

Back up your work & your goal tracking.

Nothing makes your heart sink like losing a doc that you’ve spent months crafting. It happens. Hard drives and computers fail, a sync between your iPad and app glitches. I’ve had that panicked dash to log into Dropbox when I realized I accidentally deleted a file with over 30k hard written words inside. My best hack is linking my work to a Cloud based server. The file I found in Dropbox was intact and quickly copied back to my computer.

Scrivener also has behind the scenes backups with Dropbox so you always have a copy of your work on your computer and online. Dropbox’s mobile app gives you on the go access to your files. Box is another cloud storage services that works in a very similar way, with free accounts offering a decent amount of free storage before you have to pay.

Online Resources for Writers

#IndieChat is a live Twitter chat that takes place every Tuesday 9pm-10pm EST. Follow @BiblioCrunch to stay updated on each week’s topic & time changes.

About Eric Barker: His blog, Barking Up The Wrong Tree, is a great resource of inspiration and psychology that applies to many different aspects of daily living and getting the best out of life. It’s one of my favorite emails to open each week.

Have a great week!

Rewarding Readers


DIY Book Marketing

DIY Book Mktg_RewardingReadersThe landscape of selling and promoting books is littered with advice, often in conflict with itself and often with strong opinions. Frankly, there’s a lot of ways of doing things right, but keep in mind that what works for one author or book may not work for you and your books.

So how the heck do you know what to do to get your work discovered and, just maybe, make a living with as an author?

Experiment. Be flexible. Be curious. Be willing to work at it.

DIY Book Marketing is all about giving you ideas to help grow your readership. Some may work and some will show no traction at all. But I’ll let you in on a secret. If you try out a strategy that doesn’t work, you’ve just gotten smarter on how to market YOUR work. The process of elimination helps your focus on what’s working and cut out the time-wasting tactics that just aren’t for you.

It’s going to be hard work. It’s a job for writers who are too stubborn to give up.

Added Value

Previous posts have covered:

Now let’s discuss Added Value. This is when you give readers something extra, at no charge or obligation. Doesn’t even have to come bundled with the book. Added value gives your readers and fans something of value to them beyond the product itself.

Here are a few ideas in relation to books:

  • Did you have character bios for your novel? Sketches? Fans love to see how you created the people and locations depicted in your work.
  • Did you have a list of websites you frequented for research on your novel’s subject or locations? Imagine if you had this coveted list from your favorite author from their latest book.
  • Mystery novel? Have fun and give readers a clue tally sheet. Let them know how many clues they should identify per chapter and see if they can find them. Can they solve the crime before your hero?
  • Some authors create social media accounts or websites for their characters. Fans love getting tweets from their favorite characters or reading blog posts set in your novel’s world. A  great example plays out in the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes. In the show, John Watson writes a popular blog outlining the events of each case. The smart producers of this show have the blog – in character – online for fans to read and comment, extending the enjoyment of the show. Harry Potter fans will be familiar with Pottermore which lets you feel you are part of the magical world which didn’t end with book 7, but is a story still playing out in real-time.
  • Writing journals or plot outlines are also great content to share with fans. The messier the better, because it shows the thought and effort you put into your work. Fans get to see how the threads of the plot came together and how you overcame plot shifts and writing blocks. Here’s a sample from Sue Grafton.

Your website or blog, and point of sales program features like Shelfari are natural sites to share and promote this content. If you want to bundle the goods, consider creating a free ebook with easy download from a self publishing site or as a PDF on your website.

256px-Fingerprint_pictureBook marketing is as individual as your fingerprint.

If  you find an obstacle or the task proves impossible, learn from it, adjust the path, and moved on. That sounds a little like a plot twist, doesn’t it?

You have to look at the interests of your readers, take note of the content they like and adjust. Don’t keep pounding away at the same type of content or tactic if no one is responding.

Here are the results of a few of my own experiments:

TwitterAnalyticEngagementSummaryCropped

  • Looking at Twitter Analytics, I noted the times when I had the most engagement, then sent all of my scheduled tweets the next day at the exact same time. I got a positive hit on about 70% of the tweets. Then I looked at the content that followers liked and did more of that. It was about 50%. Then I refocused the best content at the best time (based on analytics) and got engagement on every one. At the same time I connected with new folks who I wouldn’t have met otherwise and I really enjoy what they have to say with their content. I’ve also discovered that I have more than one audience. Some love books, some want to know more about writing and selling books, some love social media tips, and the last group are art lovers. Networking and conversation is how readers find you.
  • Giving away free copies does not work for my books. Also, having played with various price points I have discovered the “what the market will bear” pricing for my specific novels. If you adjust price points as I did, be willing to live with that price for 3+ months. You have to establish a buying pattern before you know if the price is working or not. Plus, you don’t want to appear fickle by your future fans by having a different price every time they look back to consider buying.
  • Activity = book sales. When I’m active on social media my brand and my writing is being actively discovered. My social media mix is this Blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. I have a page on Goodreads, but it seems to have a life of its own so I pretty much leave it alone.

Writing After DarkConsider how using Added Value & experimenting can help you market your books more effectively.

If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing and by all means share your thoughts and insights.

Thanks for hanging out with me.

Time Stand Still


“Freeze this moment a little bit longer. Make each impression a little bit stronger.” ~ Rush

I love traveling and any place I visit is open game as a story setting. The tricky part is holding onto the details that once positioned into your story bring it to life for readers. Studies show that when you read sensory detail, the same part of your brain fires as though you are actually experiencing it. I think good writers have known this intuitively since storytelling began.

I use photos to jog my memory of the smells, sounds and feelings that add realism to my settings and characters. This first photo was taken from Notre Dame in Paris. In case you’re wondering, the buses and trailers belonged to the production crew for the TV series Highlander. Looking at this, I remember how incredibly cold it was. The wind blew along the river seeping through my coat and several layers of sweaters. The water smelled moins de frais as it swelled along the wall. I’m not sure if I realized at the time I would have a protagonist nearly drown in those waters, but I do recall wondering how long it would take to get hypothermia. Mystery writers just think that way.

The images and memories formed the basis for the setting of WIRED which begins and ends in Paris. I mentally returned to this location as I wrote the final scene which takes place on the bridge in the distance. Darker scenes descended into the catacombs and introduces another side of Paris usually not mentioned in the tour guides. For those locations, an article about a French police unit that patrols the underground provided the imagery.

The second photo is a church yard in England, but my memory is faulty on the exact location.  I’m thinking it may be in Suffolk. I do recall the church was well over 1,000 years old and was marred by medieval graffiti on the ancient floor tiles.  This will be in Enigma, the follow-up to WIRED.

These days I snap photos constantly with my phone. Many museums allow photos sans flash, although they don’t like when I take snaps of the security layout. My star character is an art thief and security expert; I’m only fictionally casing the art.

Photos freeze the moment long enough to share it with my characters. Build your setting and mood as an immersive experience that allows your readers to escape into the story.

DIY Book Marketing – Editorial Calendars


DIYBookMktg_ EditorialCalender_JudithGaines

Calendars have been around for thousands of years. We’ve used them since before kindergarten to track holidays and count birthdays, then graduated to day planners and mobile phones with pop-up reminders. We have no excuse for not knowing the day of the week and month and what we need to do. Calendars help us make order out of our busy lives.

This is what a Social Media Editorial Calendar can do for your DIY Book Marketing. It doesn’t have to be fancy or use special software – it just needs to be visual.

The visual nature of a calendar will help you see the bigger story build on each channel. It also takes the pressure off figuring out what to do next.

Slide1I’ve taken my editorial calendar a little further and added a few reference pages:

  • First, a quick reminder of what type of content works best on each channel, and image sizes and formats so I don’t have to keep looking them up.
  • And added some of the audience research so I’m always reminded of who I’m writing for and keep their interests in mind when planning topics. I’ve created Personas to help me put a face and personality to each Slide2audience segment. It’s easier to write to someone you know rather than a list of data.

Step One

Use your audience research to brainstorm topics and start a list. Free style it – no censoring – and let the craziest ideas have a place, because you never know which one will turn out to be brilliant. This is where I usually get excited and add something vague like “blue vs. yellow buttons” – I strongly recommend writing a few words so you know what it means six weeks later.

Once you have an idea of what you want to share, begin ranking them in a logical order. What would your reader need to know first for the next three topics to make sense? You see, as much as a single post is a story, the collection of posts become a larger story. Think episode, with each post building upon the next.

This example shows the weeks at the top and the channels to the side to give a weekly snapshot. A traditional calendar layout works well too.
This example shows the weeks at the top and the channels to the side to give a weekly snapshot. A traditional calendar layout works well too.

Step Two

Now you’re ready to add them to your calendar. Decide how frequently you want to post and on what channels and begin filling in a few weeks worth of content. Begin with the big stuff first – the articles and blog posts, putting them on the day you plan the content to publish.

Being able to see where you’re putting your content will help you spread out what you want to say and put it in the form that best fits a specific channel.

Should There Be a Post Every Day?

When you have a wonderful list of ideas, it’s easy to want to post a new topic every day. Slow down. You don’t need to talk to everyone on every channel everyday. As long as you post on a somewhat regular basis, readers will come, and you’ll have current blog followers stopping back in to see what’s new. Twitter is the only social channel that needs an every day feed, everything else gets its own schedule.

Tips

  • Avoid using the same content across all of your social media channels. Make variations that fit the audience and personality of each. The content should complement across channels, not be a copy. (1 topic = many short tweets or several Google+/Facebook updates)
  • Keep a consistent naming convention as you add content to your calendar so at a glance you know what’s coming up. For example: Blog-How to outline a short story; G+ meme on story plots. (Color coding works well too.)
  • Consider where you can use curated content so you’re not spending all of your writing time making social media content. Even Twitter, an admittedly a time-consuming channel, can be made manageable by using curated content tweets and a few pre-scheduled tweets to give you a 24-hour presence. Then when you are perusing your Twitter stream you can actually engage with friends and fans and not worry that the tweets promoting your blog posts and books are neglected.
  • Use themes to tie content together and help you generate ideas.

How Social Media Works

Have you ever been in the mall where you were constantly approached by someone with a sales pitch? How about that Sunday afternoon movie that was great until the 10-minute block of commercials? Not a good feeling. The reason the experience feels annoying is because you don’t have a relationship with the person pitching their products. Does this mean you build a social media relationship and then ask your new friends to buy your book?

Nope.

Building your audience on social media is about talking to people about common interests. Bring them something of value in exchange for their time. If they like your social posts, then they may click your profile and discover that you’re also a writer. If they like the type of books you write, then they may buy it.

Social Media doesn’t sell books directly. It’s getting to know people and creating opportunities for discoverability.

Last Word (I promise)

Editorial calendars can also be used to track your traditional book marketing.

  • Set a schedule of how many and how often you send queries to agents and publishers.
  • Schedule time for book signings and author events.
  • The best part — reward yourself with a day off just to write or attend a conference.

Your calendar is a visual of your writing life. Writing it down makes it easier to make it happen.

 

Content Curation


DIY Book Marketing

DIY Book Mktg _ Content Curation _ Judith GainesNow that you’ve gotten to know your audience by looking at their interests in your Twitter Analytics and chatting via social media, it’s time to give the relationship more value. This is where curating content to share is a win-win proposition.

Blogs and social media posts demand a lot of content and if you don’t plan ahead they also demand a lot of time. Everyone is short on time, including your followers.

By finding online content that feeds their interests you…

  • Save them time by giving them what they want
  • Save yourself time by sharing great content that compliments what you already post
  • Makes you a source for great content – thus your posts get noticed and appreciated

5 Destinations For Sharable Content

Online Search

  1. Type in keywords that match your blog topic or writing genre.
  2. Narrow the scope of your results by adding more words to the search string. These are known as long tail searches.

For example, type “mystery writing” and you get this About 126,000,000 results (0.37 seconds) There’s bound to be something here of interest to you and your followers.

Google Alerts

Harness the power of Google’s search engine to do the work for you. Setup a simple 1-time search and have your topics delivered to your inbox. I have several set up to monitor news on art theft and WWII art crimes using variations on search terms. You get to decide how frequently you want these delivered – daily, weekly, or monthly.

Note: This is also a good way to “listen” for online mentions of your name (pen names) & titles.

Alltop.com

Search a wide range of topics and get a list of top websites and blogs with the latest articles. (Thank you to Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick for this suggestion from their new book The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users.

Not only will you find great content, this is a good resource for researching current topics relevant to your writing.

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 9.38.45 PM

Recommended Blogs

Check your blog host’s main page for trending and top blogs. WordPress shares recommended blogs based on tags used on your own site. Their Press This feature also allows you to easily share posts to your page.

StumbleUpon, Reddit, etc.

These services are social networking for websites. You tag what you like and share it, and then others do the same. What forms is a resource of recommended links already vetted by a discerning  audience.

What’s the point?

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned book promotion. Everything in these last few posts have covered discovering and understanding your audience, and then giving them great content.

Spam is bad. Lately I’ve noticed an uptick in authors pitching their book links on Twitter. It seems like a constant stream with no conversation or relationship building. If people like your content they’ll naturally want to know who you are, click on your profile, and see that you’re an author. That’s the funnel that leads them to your point of sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

By posting interesting content that feeds your audience’s interests you increase traffic and are discovered by new readers who may love your titles. Think of content marketing as an introduction, “Hi, my name is ___ .”

What’s next?

SharingI’ll take you through the steps to set up an Editorial Calendar and explain how to figure out what to do when. Having a plan means you’ll spend less time thinking and more time doing. That’s time given back to you to write your novel while still managing to work a day job, fold laundry, and cook a meal (or at least order a pizza).

Your Turn

Share your favorite methods of finding and sharing content. How are you breaking through the discoverability barrier?

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5 Common Mistakes Editors Make


Judith Gaines:

This guest post comes curtesy of Cuaderno Inedito, Notes & advice for writers & editors by Julie Schwietert Collazo.

Enjoy!

Originally posted on Cuaderno Inedito:

[Note: This piece was originally published on Matador, where I was managing editor and lead faculty member of the travel writing course. Over the next few months, I’ll dust off some other articles from my Matador days that I’ll be updating and republishing here.]
**

A FEW WEEKS back, I was reading the latest issue of Oxford American, which excerpted this badass letter writer Eudora Welty sent to the editors of The New Yorker.

Welty wanted a job at The New Yorker and she didn’t seem the least bit reluctant to pull out all the stops to get the editors’ attention.

There aren’t a whole lot of writers–then or now–who could pull off that type of letter, much less use it to develop a long and satisfying personal and professional relationship with an editor.

If you’re as much of a self-possessed badass as Welty, then you won’t need these…

View original 812 more words

Finding Your Audience


DIY Book Marketing

Once you’ve published your novel, and perhaps setup a blog and started tweeting, how do you know who you’re reaching? How do you know if the content you publish is drawing them to your books and creating sales?

Without becoming a digital guru, you can discover a lot about your fans. Knowing their interests and understanding why they follow you will help you produce effective book marketing content.

If the information you uncover is surprising, then you have some work to do to attract an audience that will potentially become your raving fans. Consider that the folks reading your tweets and blog posts may be on the fence about buying your book(s) or perhaps they’re browsing a subject and your name appears in a search. They want to learn more. You can use the built-in analytics of your social media tools to learn what they want to know. Let’s take a look at Amazon Author Central, WordPress, and Twitter.

Amazon Author Central
AuthorCentralSalesGeographyCropped

Most often, you’re probably signing into Amazon KDP to look your sales stats. Once a month, or at least within the first two weeks after publishing your novel, login into Amazon Author Central and view your sales by Geography. You’ll see the U.S. with sections highlighted, the darker the area the more sales you have in these regions. This is calculated by Nielsen BookScan, which is estimated to cover 75% of all retail print sales.

Why is this important? Now you know where your audience lives and most importantly their time zone. This allows you to schedule blog posts, promotional tweets and content to when they will most likely see it.

WordPress

Yes, I know there are other blogging sites and services out there, but the tips here should still apply. It’s not the service provider, but the data provided in your stats and dashboard that you’ll find helpful. Here are the four things you’ll want to review.
WordpressTrafficMap

  • Pull up your stats summary and make note of which days of the week are getting the most traffic. Those are the days you should be posting.
  • How often are you posting? If you can look at six months to a year’s worth of site traffic you should see a natural ebb and flow of visitors. After a post has brought a boost in traffic, note how long it takes for the visitor traffic to slow down. This is your guide to how long you can pause between posts before losing repeat visitors. Aim to be on the leading edge of the timeline before your audience moves on.
  • Next, migrate to your posting summary and sort by most popular posts. This is where you get insights into what your audience likes. You may have written a post two years ago, but it’s still getting random traffic from web searches. It should be easy to look at the top ranking posts and identify the similarities in content. Now you know your sweet spot and can build your audience by writing to their interests.
  • If your dashboard gives a list of referrers, make note of who they are. Knowing where your traffic comes from lets you know how effective your marketing is on other sites. i.e. A lot of Twitter traffic shows your content posted there is working.

Bonus: These interests, and the comments on these posts, can help shape your fiction writing as well. Knowing who you’re writing for and weaving the story to hold their attention will help give your writing focus.

Twitter

If you’re using a Twitter management program like Hootsuite or Socialoomph, then you’re familiar with their stats and dashboards. They’re very good at showing follower counts and click-throughs. However, Twitter Analytics is a robust tool that gives unique insights into your audience demographic.

TwitterAnalyiticMenuCroppedTo begin, log onto Twitter with a web browser and click on your icon in the upper left corner. This gives you a menu which should include Analytics. If this is missing from your menu, Google Twitter Analytics while logged in and it will bring up the same screen.

At the top you’ll have a few choices: Tweets, Followers, Twitter Cards, and Tools. We’ll just consider the first two.

Tweets gives you an overview of followers over time. Below that you’ll see each tweet, how many impressions it had, and if anyone engaged with it. Impressions are the times the tweet was viewed by someone on Twitter. You may have several thousand followers, but they are not all looking at Twitter at the same time. Also, tweets come and go quickly on timelines. This means only a limited number of people will see your content at any given time. If your tweet gets shared, you’ll see the impressions increase. This is where the engagement comes in. Engagement is when another person either clicks your link or shares your content.

TwitterAnalyticEngagementSummaryCroppedWhy is this important? Knowing what times of the day have the most impressions can help you schedule tweets for the most viewers. Guy Kawasaki recommends tweeting your most important content four times within a twenty-four hour period. This ensures the most reach among your followers. Keeping these two points in mind can help you fine tune your timing.

Also, knowing what garners a click can help you know what works and what doesn’t work when you’re trying to get clicks to your point of purchase or website.

TwitterAnalyticFollowersCroppedThe second tab, Followers, gives you a list of your follower’s top interests. This tells you exactly why your they are

following you. Interests should match your writing genre and topics. It might even give you some insights into sub-genres that could play into your fiction writing. It even takes it a step further and tells you which states and countries make up your following, as well as their gender distribution.

Why is all of this important?

Put it all together and you know the gender, interests, location, the best time of day to reach your audience, and what content resonates with them most.

Your audience is made up of fans, people who have chosen to read what you write and seek out the content you provide. They are the fans who will talk about your blog posts and recommend your novel to friends. When you write a post or share a comment on Twitter you now know who you’re talking to, and that’s where a conversation begins.

Final Note

The only sure thing about marketing on social media networks is that it will keep changing. Your follower makeup will change. What works and doesn’t work will change. Data will give a you a leg up on trends and messaging so you can effectively reach your audience and when they move you can move with them.

Writing your novel is your art and craft. Selling your novel is business – be engaged. Listen, ask questions, and talk with your fans.

Have an idea or helpful insight? Leave a comment and help everyone market smarter:)

Happy New Year – make this the best one yet!

 

Wired Judith GainesWired by Judith Gaines

Jade Weekes emerged from the oily wash of the Seine five years ago with no memory of her life, but an uncanny knowledge of fine art, museum security, and a knack for walking away with priceless treasures. Now she’s tracking an elusive Van Gogh with ties to an underworld struggle that will reveal her forgotten past. 

 

DIY Book Marketing


Why Authors Need to Know Marketing

Writing After DarkYears ago you would write your novel, print it on good stock paper and mail it off with a query. If it was good enough, an agent would sell it to a publisher who would give you copy edits, a professional cover and crank up their marketing machine to help sell it. I’m betting anyone reading this post has never had this experience. It’s rare these days. Margins are thin for publishers and there’s less risk-taking on unknown authors. The landscape is also full of disruptors – the people and technology that have innovated to change how we publish, buy and read books.

For these reasons and more, authors need to know how to market their work. This is part one of a series I’ve put together to give you ideas of how to do this effectively.

First a few pre-work assumptions:

  1. Your novel is complete
  2. You’ve invested in a professional copyedit
  3. You’ve invested in professional cover art
  4. You’ve formatted, published, and polished your novel

Part 1: The Press ReleaseGeared Up

Without jumping ahead too much, you need to have a few key words in your toolbox. Think about who you are trying to reach and how they are searching for what they want to read next. Key words should be aligned to your book’s subject and genre. If you write zombie vs. vampire alternate history fiction with a political twist, you’ll want to be sure to have those words in your press release. Keywords are picked up by search engines when you Bing or Google for books with some or all of these elements. SEO, Search Engine Optimization is nothing more than making sure the key words that would help a search find you are in your content.

By now you may have realized that press releases have evolved from the news feed days of print newspapers. A smart press release is optimized for online consumption while providing the key facts needed by an editorial desk at a traditional press.

There is a basic format for all press releases starting with the Headline. This is the perfect place to use key words. The headline should be attention grabbing and is every bit as important as choosing the title for your book. This is followed by the date and location, a brief introduction, book details, contact information and boilerplate.

Here’s an example:

Soaring Book Sales (Headline)

For Immediate Release

Strong Press Releases Sell More Books  (Subtitle: Add specifics to your topic)

(Date & Location) December 19, 2014 – Charlotte, NC (Introduction) The introduction is the classic Who, What, When, Where and How you learned in English class all those years ago. I worked nine years in a TV newsroom and over and over I saw  producers pull an entire story from a press release because it was written well enough to make their jobs easier. I’ve also seen press releases reprinted in trade publications almost verbatim. The introduction should have a journalistic feel to the writing. Proper grammar and punctuation count, so turn on your grammar checker and pull out your Strunk & White.

(Book Details) Next, add the book details that make readers want to buy your novel, such as an overview of topics for non-fiction or an abbreviated synopsis for fiction. It’s also a good place to add a quote from a respected source or early review. This adds credibility.

(Purchase Information) Now let readers know how and where to find your novel. List your distribution outlets by name. Do not put in a string of links. If you are doing author appearances, list locations and times.

(Contact) Closing out the main section is your contact information. This should be your email, a phone number if you prefer personal calls, and your website site. If you have a publisher, add their contact information as well.

(Boilerplate) The last component is the boilerplate. It sounds intimidating, but it’s simply an anachronism for stating your credentials. Let the reader know why you are qualified to write about your non-fiction topic or that you’re an award-winning fiction writer and this is your 10th novel. This section builds your credibility and lets the world know this is not your hobby, you are an author.

360 Advertisng Copy | eBook Edition | Available free at www.lulu.com.Optional:

Add an image of your book cover and links to your online distribution at the bottom of the page. The links should be a hyperlink within the retail store’s name like this: Amazon.com.

 

Distributing Your Press Release

At this point you have a carefully written and proofed press release that is SEO optimized. Think about your tribe of fans, the niche readers who love books just like yours and where they go for information: online searches, trade magazines, and sometime traditional media. Look for established communities where they network. Here are a few suggestions:

  • PR Log
  • PR Web
  • Writing Networks, Groups or Associations (SavvyAuthors.com, NC Writer’s Network)
  • College Alumni Associations (Many publish magazines with articles on graduate’s accomplishments)
  • LinkedIn (Get your profile in All-Star shape and add posts and news to reach your network)
  • Social Media (Share the link from PR Log or LinkedIn) & ask for RT’s
  • Your website (Consider a special promotion for your blog followers to reward their fandom)
  • Local news media (Many interview authors for Public Radio & local interest news)
  • Tap into niche online communities. Be sure to follow their guidelines for posting press releases and book promotions.

Networking in a digital age gives you a lot of control over how and where you promote your writing. The options above can all be done online for free. There are other PR distribution services that charge a fee, but I would recommend using the free tools you have on hand first. Everywhere your press release appears, whether it’s a link on social media, an online profile, or a handful of blogs, you have increased your discoverability by search engines and readers. For the same reason, it’s important you use multiple distribution paths.

Added Bonus:

Now that you have this tightly written and smart promotional copy, you can repurpose it over and over again. If you guest post or hop on a blog tour you can pull bits for your author bio, it’s the basis for a strong query letter, and it can be used in part on your product description for your online points of sale.

Links to Sample Press Releases
Upcoming Posts:
  • Finding Your Audience
  • Content Marketing on Social Media & Community Building
  • Curating Content
  • Engagement Marketing
  • Added Value
  • Storytelling
  • Designing a Marketing Plan & Experimentation

 

WiredWired by Judith Gaines by Judith Gaines

Jade Weekes emerged from the oily wash of the Seine five years ago with no memory of her life, but an uncanny knowledge of fine art, museum security, and a knack for walking away with priceless treasures. Now she’s tracking an elusive Van Gogh with ties to an underworld struggle that will reveal her forgotten past. 

Sites & Squirrels: 10 Websites You Didn’t Know You Needed


No intro here, just a collection of helpful sites for writing, the writing business, and chasing squirrels (Up reference;) Enjoy.


Writing

  • Familypedia – A wiki of genealogy, including a comprehensive list of most common surnames and their country of origin.
  • Savvy Authors – Great resource for writing workshops, articles, and webinars.
  • 10 Rules for Writing Fiction – Advice from Elmore Leonard.

Hemingway AppApps

  • My Writing Spot provides a simple, uncluttered writing workspace online that syncs with mobile app for iPad ($2.99).
  • Hemingway App – Copy & paste your writing for tips on how to make it better. (Not your average grammar checker) You can either buy the full app for $6.99 or use the free online sampler for short text.

Marketing & The Business of Writing

  • Ask A Literary Agent – Advice from literary pro & author Noah Lukeman.
  • My Copy Blogger – Tips for writing marketing and promotional copy, SEO, and more. Membership is free.

Squirrels

  • Did You Knows – Odd facts about everything, such as “Did you know 8% of people have an extra rib?” and “Did you know March 14 is Save A Spider Day?”.
  • Life Hacker – We all need those, and these tips cover tons of topics like charging your cell phone on the road, and how to fold shirts faster. Warning: You may lose several hours on this site.
  • Think Geek – For our inner nerd.

 

Shameless self-promotion;)

Wired Judith Gaines

Wired by Judith Gaines

Jade Weekes emerged from the oily wash of the Seine five years ago with no memory of her life, but an uncanny knowledge of fine art, museum security, and a knack for walking away with priceless treasures. Now she’s tracking an elusive Van Gogh with ties to an underworld struggle that will reveal her forgotten past. 

 

 

 

An Appointment That Can’t Be Broken


Tea Leaves and Writing
Harney & Sons Paris tea, Scrivener, Enigma Chapter 6. Jade enters a hidden vault in her father’s art gallery.

Whenever I have doubts about my sanity, I turn to the voices in my head to set things right. You might think I need medication, but the voices are the medication.

Writers know exactly what I’m talking about. Those voices that are always in the background wanting your undivided attention to tell their story. These are our characters, the fascinatingly flawed people who shape our fiction and helps us release tension, stress, anger, and a multitude of other emotions. Letting them run around on the page looks like work to those watching us at our keyboards, but for a writer…this is play time.

And if this is play time, it begs the question, “why is it so hard to get started?” To be able to dive in at any time, you need a writing habit. Kinda like having “the knack”, but instead of intuitive engineering, you’re building worlds out of words with ease.

Now, everyone has a habit. It makes you do a certain thing at a certain time a certain way. For writers and artists, establishing habits can help you get into the flow of your craft easier and faster. Just like you have your bedtime routine that tells your brain it’s time to sleep, and so like magic you begin to yawn as you put the toothbrush away, you can train your brain to enter writing mode. Establish a habit, a location, or trigger to tell your brain to write.

Do you write to music? A particular kind of music? Do you need silence? Where do you sit? Do you have toys on your desk, or must your writing software layout be just so? How do you warm up?

Make an appointment with yourself that you keep. Set aside an hour that is your writing time. If sixty minutes is too intimidating, start with fifteen and work your way up. Having a time limit will kick in your sense of urgency which has amazing powers to override the inner critic that slows you down. By keeping this appointment, you’re investing in yourself and your craft. You become a better writer through practice. Best selling authors aren’t blessed with magical orbs that feed the words to their fingers. They invest the time to write and write often to learn better ways to tell a story. No magic bullets, just work. This writing time, this investment in craft, trains your brain to quickly access the grey matter where your creativity lives.

Waiting for the perfect quiet day to write won’t put words on the paper for you. You have to make the time, and keep it to form the writing habits you want in your life. I envy writers who are able to turn out novels fast, and although my publication rate is sporadic, I do make time to write regularly. It’s how I process my thoughts, work out solutions to a multitude of tasks, and plan goals.

Today is an unusually chilly day for August, it’s rainy, the house is still, and my cup of Paris tea is the perfect temperature. A perfect setting to write, but I would be writing anyway. I’ve made an appointment that can’t be broken.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

When you find a book you love, pass it along, tell a friend, tweet it, or share it on Facebook. This is how the great books are discovered.  Thanks.

Shameless self-promotion;)

Wired Judith Gaines

Wired by Judith Gaines

Amazon.com 4-Stars

Jade Weekes emerged from the oily wash of the Seine five years ago with no memory of her life, but an uncanny knowledge of fine art, museum security, and a knack for walking away with priceless treasures. Now she’s tracking an elusive Van Gogh with ties to an underworld struggle that will reveal her forgotten past. 

Jade Weekes leaves Paris to track a priceless Van Gogh from St. Pete to Chicago. Her contacts are shady and she is beginning to think there is more to this job than a buyer wanting a gift for his wife. Otherwise, why would Simon Morrell, a rival thief, cross her path just as the FBI begins asking questions? 

Caught up in the six billion dollar international art theft industry, she enlists help from unlikely sources: film actor Alex Ford, and veteran FBI specialists Stewart Connor and John Young.

How to Find Great Books by Indie Authors


Red PencilThere’s a plethora of great books on the market by Indie Authors, but in the growing e-book flood waters there are quite a few that are less than satisfying, and far from the professional product you are expecting for your investment (time & money).

Here’s my method for finding great books and discovering emerging writers.

Can you trust reviews?

Yes and no. It’s well-known that some reviews are planted to increase initial sales to get a book on a list or two, and boost its visibility. That doesn’t mean you can’t trust reviews, but you should look at the spread of ratings. Most books will have a distribution with the majority of ratings falling within a small range. These are likely the most trustworthy. I like to read the bad ones first, and it’s usually easy to spot the bitter, “this was not for me” or “not what I expected” reviews. Then I move on to those that fall in the mid range, and usually I get a good idea if the novel is something I want to try out.

If there are only a few reviews, and they are all five stars with glowing praise, that doesn’t mean it’s planted, but be cautious. That’s where this next item comes in handy.

Sample

If you’re not 100% sure, sample the book before you buy.

For authors reading this, a generous sample is more likely to lead to a happy customer than a tiny excerpt. Once a reader has invested the time to read a quarter of a novel and is hooked, they’ll come back and complete the purchase.

For readers, this is test drive time. Get a cup of peach tea, glass of wine, or coffee and kick back. Either you’re going to love the story and the writing, OR you’ll delete the sample from your library and move on. You may be out a little time, but not the few dollars you would have spent on that particular title. If you love it, you’ll have another great author to follow, and you’ll know when you buy their other titles, you will have constancy in quality and content.

Indie Reads

Here are a few titles that made me stay up way past my bed time. The plots and characters are engaging, and the quality of the presentation (clean copyediting & professional cover) was spot on.

Cyberstorm by Matthew Mather

Cyberstorm MatherDescription from Amazon

Sometimes the worst storms aren’t from Mother Nature, and sometimes the worst nightmares aren’t the ones in our heads. Mike Mitchell, an average New Yorker already struggling to keep his family together, suddenly finds himself fighting just to keep them alive when an increasingly bizarre string of disasters start appearing on the world’s news networks. As the world and cyberworld come crashing down, bending perception and reality, a monster snowstorm cuts New York off from the world, turning it into a wintry tomb where nothing is what it seems…

Review: Believable characters, combined with strong writing, provides enough realism to make you think this could happen today. Just when you think this is another end of the world story, it takes an abrupt turn. Not for squeamish types;)

Timebound by Rysa Walker

Time Bound WalkerDescription from Amazon

When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and her genetic ability to time travel makes Kate the only one who can fix the future. Risking everything, she travels back in time to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the murder and the chain of events that follows.

Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does Kate have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?

Review: Time travel stories are always fun to read. Time Bound is inventive and well written, with just enough tension to keep the pages turning. This story would appeal to ages mid teens and above, with lots of room to imagine joining the cause to stop the Cyrists.

Time’s Echo by Rysa Walker

Times Echo WalkerDescription from Amazon

A Kindle exclusive novella, set in the world of Rysa Walker’s Timebound. 

Kiernan Dunne abandoned his family ties to help Kate fight the Cyrists, and he’s never regretted that for one moment. But he doesn’t understand why Kate can’t remember that night in 1893 Chicago, when she turned back to face the killer chasing them through the smoky corridors of the World’s Fair Hotel. Kate placed the CHRONOS key around his neck and made his eight year old self promise to wear it always, and that’s a promise Kiernan has never broken. 

When Kate suddenly vanishes after a Cyrist-engineered time shift, that hidden medallion is Kiernan’s only hope for finding her. He returns to the Cyrist fold to look for clues, but his search will lead him back to the question that has haunted him for years–what really happened after he left Kate at the World’s Fair Hotel?

Review: A quick read, and also a great follow-up to Time Bound, this can be considered a supplemental story to the series. Book two in the Chronos Files series is due out later in 2014.

Poe by J. Lincoln Fenn

Poe JLFennDescription from Amazon

It’s Halloween, and life is grim for twenty-three-year-old Dimitri Petrov. It’s the one-year anniversary of his parents’ deaths, he’s stuck on page one thousand of his Rasputin zombie novel, and he makes his living writing obituaries.

But things turn from bleak to terrifying when Dimitri gets a last-minute assignment to cover a séance at the reputedly haunted Aspinwall Mansion.

There, Dimitri meets Lisa, a punk-rock drummer he falls hard for. But just as he’s about to ask her out, he unwittingly unleashes malevolent forces, throwing him into a deadly mystery. When Dimitri wakes up, he is in the morgue—icy cold and haunted by a cryptic warning given by a tantalizing female spirit.

As town residents begin to turn up gruesomely murdered, Dimitri must play detective in his own story and unravel the connections among his family, the Aspinwall Mansion, the female spirit, and the secrets held in a pair of crumbling antiquarian books. If he doesn’t, it’s quite possible Lisa will be the next victim.

Review: This is a good old-fashioned ghost story with some interesting twists, and a few chills. The descriptive scenes bring the story to life, as you get to see the story unfold through Dimitri’s eyes. Lighter than Stephen King, this blends humor with suspense in a unique way.

~~~~~~~~~~~

When you find a great book, pass it along, tell a friend, tweet it, or share it on Facebook. This is how the  great books are discovered.  Thanks.

Shameless self-promotion;)

Wired Judith GainesDescription from Amazon

Jade Weekes emerged from the oily wash of the Seine five years ago with no memory of her life, but an uncanny knowledge of fine art, museum security, and a knack for walking away with priceless treasures. Now she’s tracking an elusive Van Gogh with ties to an underworld struggle that will reveal her forgotten past. 

Jade Weekes leaves Paris to track a priceless Van Gogh from St. Pete to Chicago. Her contacts are shady and she is beginning to think there is more to this job than a buyer wanting a gift for his wife. Otherwise, why would Simon Morrell, a rival thief, cross her path just as the FBI begins asking questions? 

Caught up in the six billion dollar international art theft industry, she enlists help from unlikely sources: film actor Alex Ford, and veteran FBI specialists Stewart Connor and John Young.

Art Lost – Art Recovered


The art work is famous, and even though you may have stood before it at some point in time, do you know its significance–what made it good enough to be hanging there? When a thief steps over the invisible line in a museum, the one the Docent politely asks you to observe, and snatches a painting, most of us are really seeing the artwork for the first time.

Often, art theft does not make headline news, but when it does, everyone stops to listen. The news shares vague crime details, and how many thousands, or millions of dollars the art work is worth, and at the same time spurs our imagination to fill in the details not shared.

It makes us wonder why we didn’t pay attention when we had the chance.

Below are few current news stories of art theft, art recovery, and the personal pain of art lost. From Dublin, to Virginia, to the French Riviera, each article feels like a jumping point for a compelling story. It’s no wonder art crime is romanticized, but in reality it funds darker, criminal activity as part of a $6 Billion industry.

 

Click images below to read the full articles.

Riviera Heist
Suspected mastermind of Riviera art theft says FBI framed him
Dublin Painting Returned
Painting returned to Dublin gallery 20 years after theft
Ponytail Theif
Contemporary art thief with a ponytail
India Artifacts
Federal agents go on the hunt for stolen treasures

 

 

writing after dark

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