3 S.R. Johannes: January 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Street Team Links To Get You Started

If you were wondering what a street team is and how it can help you as an author, we have the answers for you!

Take a look at these great articles and chats and let us know:
What do you think about street teams? Do you have one or want one? Do you not want a street team?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Self Marketing by Mike Hartner

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Congrats! You’re published. In today’s world, in many cases, it won’t matter whether you are self-published, or published by one of the Big Six. You will need marketing.

Marketing. Yes, that ugly word. What, you mean my book doesn’t sell itself? Nope. Sorry to disappoint, but you are one of nearly a million people who have self-published this past year. Finding your book, for any but the most diligent (read: friends and relatives) is going to be a crapshoot. So how do you make your odds better?

1. Blog tours. Orangeberry.com has them. Pumpupyourbook.com has them. And there are others out there. They schedule you on blogs that work with them, and then send you a list of material they want. Some material that they like to use includes: Chapters, for chapter reveals; character interviews, to get a better feel for the characters; author interviews, in which you answer questions about yourself and your book and your publishing journey; top ten lists by you; and a plethora of other information. Blog tours are the 21st century equivalent to book store tours. Except you are doing them in cyber-space. And they can be fun. So go out and enjoy them.

2. Reviews. This falls into several time frames. To do this properly, there are things you need to be setting up PRIOR to the release of the book.

  • Netgalley.com - $350 set up. Six months. It gives newspapers, book sellers, etc... a chance to look at your book before they decide to stock or review it. Sometimes it can lead to reviews.
  • Newspapers - ARCs of the book should be given to media 3-4 months in advance of the release to give them a chance to read it and respond. Remember, they have busy lives too.
  • Internet book reviewers (book bloggers) - There are lists out there. They are genre specific, and will definitely help you contact reviewers who will look at your book. Like newspaper columnists, though, they are VERY busy. Many of them need to be booked four months in advance. Not all. But, if you give them four months, they are guaranteed to appreciate your efforts even more, regardless of whether they agree to help you.
  • Amazon book reviewers - Amazon has lists that include their top ten reviewers. And if you pick through these one at a time, and contact them, then some will help and others will not. But give them a time frame.... the more leeway the better. They, too, are busy.

3. Contests/Awards. You can enter all sorts of contests for your book. Make sure that you’re in the right genre, though.

  • Other independent book contests are out there. Google them.
  • Local book awards - Every state and province has book awards for local authors. You can’t win if you don’t play.

4. Associations. There are many associations, including Independent Book Publishers Association. Membership in them will give you discounts for participation in some of the contests and services like: Netgalley, LightningSource, trade shows, etc... I HIGHLY recommend IBPA. But, look around. If they’re not right for you, some one else will be.

5. Trade Shows. Throughout the year, there are trade shows all over the world:
  • London Book Show -- April
  • BookExpoAmerica (BEA) - May
  • Beijing (usually September)
  • Frankfurt (October)
  • There are others in your state or province.
  • American Library Association (ALA)
  • National Educators Association (NEA)
  • NewYork State Library Association
  • California State Library Association...
  • This list is endless.

Two points about trade shows. 
  • They are OPTIONAL. They get exposure to your book out there, but don’t stress if you can’t afford to go to every one of them. 
  • Pick your conventions wisely. You may decide to go to the ALA without going to the NEA. That’s okay. There’s some member overlap, but not a lot.

6. Free Sites. IF you join Kindle Direct Program (KDP) they will allow you to have free days -- up to five across three months -- as promotion days. There are hundreds of spots around the internet that advertise to kindle users, e-readers, etc.. that will help you to publicize FREE days, provided you give them reasonable notice. By reasonable, I think minimum two weeks.

7. Social media. Put up a Facebook author’s page, a Twitter feed, your own website, Pinterest pictures, etc. Look into badredheadmedia.com to find Rachel Thompson (@RachelintheOC), a social media guru, who can help you grow your brand.

8. Google Adwords. Theadwordsguy.com and JP help you to use Google Adwords and landing sites to generate interest. You pay per click, but it helps to show you which genres and keywords resonate interest with your book.

9. Reader websites. Goodkindle.net is one example. These are websites dedicated to individuals who read e-books. There are plenty of them, and for a small fee, you can be a part of their book list on their site.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it describes most of the areas that I have delved into to help promote my book. You don’t have to do them all at once. Pick and choose according to your whims. But get out there and try something to improve your exposure to the massive number of readers out there. Now go out there and market!

Also, don’t forget that "FRONTLIST sells backlist." In short, the best way to sell this book... is to write the next one. So don’t get hung up in the promotions area for too long.

And, if you’re getting overwhelmed with it all, ask for help from an author’s assistant like Kate Tilton.

About the Author:
Mike Hartner was born in Miami in 1965. He’s traveled much of the continental United States. He has several years post secondary education, and experience teaching and tutoring young adults. Hartner has owned and run a computer firm for more than twenty-five years. He now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife and child. They share the neighborhood and their son with his maternal grandparents. You can visit Mike at his website.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Book Trailers: Should I have one for my book? by Mallory Rock

So the pressing question so many have...Are book trailers worth it?

 The answer is not a simple one, as it is both yes and no. It really depends on numerous factors. Each author needs to think about and examine these factors to determine what type of trailer will work for you and your book. I believe a trailer can work for almost every book, but the trick is knowing what type of trailer to create. Now let’s start with the types of trailers that could be useful for authors.

You have the informational trailer, which can be used quite well for non-fiction books like this:

 Next you have cinematic book trailers, which can be used for a number of fiction genres and are modeled in a movie trailer style, like this:

Then you have the animated trailer, which can be used for childrens, some fantasy, and satire. Like this:

And last is the branding or interview trailer, which is more focused on the author and the message than the individual book and can be used with almost any book. Like this:

So how do you know which type is for you? Well let’s look at some of those factors that can make a difference.

* What genre is your book?
     In general the YA audience tends to be the most accepting of the visual medium, and therefore has a greater potential to yield results in the cinematic trailers. On the other end of the spectrum, non-fiction books tend to yield the best results with an informational trailer. With animation childrens and middle grade are best, but you have to weigh that against how much of your target audience will see your trailer. This does not mean that if you do not have a YA, middle grade or a non-fiction book you should not have a trailer. The branding or interview trailers can work for any book, but need to be catered to their target audience.

* What if I am on a tight budget?
     This can be approached in a number of ways. Starting with using either the informational if it works for you or the branding/interview trailers. These can be produced at a much lower cost generally because it is a much simpler video and process. If you have a book you think HAS TO HAVE the cinematic trailer, it can be done in a wide range of pricing. Now keep in mind you get what you pay for so, finding a great deal is good, but make sure you look at samples before committing to anything.

Once you have pinned down what might work for you and have someone creating your trailer, how do you know what to look for? What makes a good book trailer?
  • Keep it brief. People value their time and generally have a short attention span when browsing the internet through things such as trailers.
  • Be authentic. The tone and feel of your trailer should reflect the content of your book.
  • Music matters. Music sets the tone and flow of a trailer, so be sure it accurately represents your material and is engaging!
  • Make it seamless. All of your imagery, transitions and text should flow together creating one flowing piece. You do not want choppy pieces all pasted together. A good way to see if your content works well and has flow is to watch the trailer while muted. If it still stands up and is engaging without that mood setter you are on your way.
  • Give them information. Be sure to end your trailer with the url to your website for more information and also let them know where your book is available for purchase and/or when.

So now you have your trailer done, but what do you do with it? There are several places that are a must and free for you to place your trailer.
  • Upload to youtube as a starting point. When you do this use your keywords! What terms are people searching to find you or your book and additionally what are potential readers searching? Keywords can make a huge difference in getting that trailer seen on youtube.
  • Using that youtube video, embed the trailer on your author website. Announce and blog about it for its reveal.
  • Authors are able to add videos to their author page on Amazon.
  • You can also add the video to your author page on Goodreads!
  • Find a video book review blogger and try to get your trailer featured. You will have a better impact with a video blogger as their audience is already watching videos. You will get more views and possible sales/reviews this way.
  • Have a way to display and play your trailer at events like author signings, conventions, etc.
Now looking at all of this information what can we deduce? I think it is safe to say there is a very wide variety of  trailer options that range from self made branding videos to professionally produced cinematic and/or animated trailers. Find what works best for you and your book and run with it. Make sure the quality is there and be ready to work at it. Having a trailer does nothing if you dont put it out there and use all the resources available to you. Having a trailer is one more great promotional piece to add to your marketing arsenal and in the end that is what all authors are looking for...another piece to the puzzle leading to success in this flooded business. Ask yourself what you can do to make your work stand out next to the others and then go for it.

About Mallory Rock:
I work with authors to bring their literary works to life through covers, interior graphics, layout & formatting, cinematic book trailers, custom world maps, web graphics, and promotional materials. I am the art director at the author PR firm Novel Publicity, cover artist & print formatter for Evolved Publishing, and also work with Amy Edelman providing custom cover services to Indie Reader clients. I have worked with authors like NY Times Best Seller Bella Andre and recently worked with major Hollywood producers, The Tannenbaum Company, creating a look book for a fantasy novel turned screenplay.

I am an avid reader and enjoy books across many genres. But I have a very fervid love of dystopian anf fantasy novels. I have been known to devour up to a book a day when my busy schedule permits. I enjoy combining my love of literary works with my artistic skills to help authors bring their work to life visually. Find out more about me on my website.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Chelsea Fine's PERFECT KIND OF TROUBLE Cover Reveal

Today we are excited to be sharing the cover for Chelsea Fine's Perfect Kind of Trouble

PERFECT KIND OF TROUBLE (Forever E-Book; June 3, 2014; $4.99)
Daren Ackwood is a bad boy with a mysterious past. He’s the kind of guy who knows he can get any girl he wants. Kayla doesn’t do bad boys—in any sense of the word. They have a tendency to leave scars and dust trails in their wake, and Kayla isn’t running short on either. So when Daren rolls up to her father’s funeral in his shiny sports car, Kayla knows she needs to keep her distance during her brief stay in this tiny God-forsaken town. She’s here to take care of her father’s will, nothing more. The trouble is, Daren doesn’t see it that way. And he usually gets his way. 
Amazon | B&N | iTunes 
About the author
Chelsea lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where she spends most of her time writing stories, painting murals, and avoiding housework at all costs. She's ridiculously bad at doing dishes and claims to be allergic to laundry. Her obsessions include: superheroes, coffee, sleeping-in, and crazy socks. She lives with her husband and two children, who graciously tolerate her inability to resist teenage drama on TV and her complete lack of skill in the kitchen. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Why Authors Should Consider Crowdfunding by Justine Schofield of Pubslush

As writers, we know the biggest qualm about self-publishing is the out of pocket expenses and subsequent financial risk and burden on the writer. Many writers have to skimp on must-have publishing services because they don’t have the funds to pay for them. Sadly, it’s true. Most people will judge a book by its cover and as a result, self-published books have developed the stigma of being of a lesser quality.

Good news, though. Self-publishing authors now have the means to raise funds pre-publication in order to lessen the financial burden and to help their book live up to its potential. Crowdfunding is quickly becoming the newest tool in the self-publishers toolbox that can help writers practice more informed and successful publishing.

So, what exactly is crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is a new technology that allows people to collect many small financial pledges from their extended network and audience to fund a creative project or business venture. Let’s break crowdfunding down into real terms.

Say you’re a writer and you’ve just finished writing your very first book. You really put a lot of time and effort into your book and you want to share it with the world. Self-publishing seems to be the way to go. You won’t have to hassle with finding an agent or publisher, you’ll have more creative control, and your book will be published in a timely manner. Plus, you have a pretty large network that you know will buy your book. The only issue is coming up with the funds for all the costly publishing services you’ll need.

You decide to launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for your publishing project. You find the platform that’s right for you (a very important first step!) and setup your campaign. Then, when your campaign goes live, you reach out to your network—family, friends, colleagues, your book audience—and ask them to make a financial pledge to your crowdfunding campaign. The pledges add up and by the end of your campaign, you’ll have enough (or at least more than before) funds to publish your book.

Okay, so this is a very simplified version of crowdfunding, but it’s just to give you an idea of how it works. There are a few very important things to keep in mind, though.

First, people are not donating to help publish your book. Crowdfunding is rewards based, which means as the campaign creator you would develop different reward levels to entice your supporters. The reward levels can range anywhere from $1 to $100 to $1,000 and above, and everywhere in between. As the dollar amount increases the rewards get better. No matter what, your supporters are receiving something in return for their financial pledge. Often times, writers will offer a copy of their book as a reward, so they are actually able to collect preorders during their crowdfunding campaign, too.

Second, crowdfunding is a lot of work. Sure, it sounded pretty easy in my simplified version of the process, but in order to be successful the writer must be 100% committed and ready and willing to promote and market their campaign. Having a marketing plan, a pre-established network and knowing your audience are all very important factors to the success of a campaign.

Lastly, you must be willing to ask for support. A majority of the support for your campaign, especially in the beginning while you’re building momentum, will come from your own network. People won’t know about your campaign if you don’t tell them. Just as in the publishing world, you are your own biggest advocate and it’s up to you to make the initial connections and build a buzz around your book.

Crowdfunding requires the same marketing necessary to finding success in the book publishing world, but it allows you to raise funds pre-publication, which can overall ensure more success in the future. As I mentioned, crowdfunding is not a venture to be taken lightly. A lot of hard work and commitment is required, but a lot of hard work and commitment was required to write your book, too. So doesn’t your book deserve to be the best it can be when it’s presented to the world? At Pubslush, we think so.

About the Author:

Justine Schofield is the development director of Pubslush, a global crowdfunding platform only for books. Authors can raise funds and gauge initial market viability for their book projects. Justine graduated from Emerson College in Boston, MA with a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing and is currently enrolled at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, earning her MFA in Creative Writing. She specializes in social media and public relations and in the past she has worked with growing companies to develop their online presence. Justine has become a prominent industry voice for educating authors and publishers about crowdfunding and her work has been featured on many online publications.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

I have several new projects in the works. I'm particularly excited about this year as I'll be both indie publishing and working toward traditional publishing as well. 

2011 - Was an up and down year for me. 

2011/2012 - Was all about indie pubbing.

2013 - Was all about finding the best agent for a new shiny project. (and who was more in alignment with my goals in writing and my career)

2014 - this year, is all about writing and hopefully merging a traditional career with an indie career.

The only thing I can control is how much I write, producing good books, and working on my craft.

Here is what I'm shooting for this year:
  • Unstoppable (bk 3 in Nature of Grace series) - coming Spring 2014. I am currently outlining at least 2 more books in this series that might age Grace up a bit. 
  • Exhale - (#3 in Breathless Novelette series) - Planned for Late Spring 2014. I love this little series so I hope to find time to outline 3 more novelettes in the future.
  • Secret YA cyberthriller series - (with agent) - This series is Lisbeth Sanders meets Katniss for the cyber age. I love this character and have hope she gets a chance to go far.
  • A new YA medical thriller - TBD  (shoot for summer completion)

    • Think Likely - A Gone Girl for New Adult  - TBD. I think NA contemp romance may start to get old and have readers searching for more NA in different genres. Though I've been known to be wrong ;) (shoot for Dec completion)
    I'm not sure what will be published where but that is not important. It's creating them that I need to focus on for now.

    How would I do all this?

    My goal is to write everyday for at least 2 hours straight with a goal of 2500 words x 5 days = about 10-12,000 a week. Technically - this means I should be able to draft a solid book in 2 months (which normally takes me 4-6). This of course is because I outline in advance which helps me write faster.

    BTW, I don't think indie authors have to sacrifice quality to write fast - I just think when we focus - we write faster. This doesn't mean I will skip steps - it just goes into each phase sooner than it did before.

    I have a plan to focus my attention more and protect my writing time. This means scheduling out my social media time in chunks after my daily writing goal is complete.

    I have finally laid out measurable goals, my author mission statement, and outlined a 1 to 5 year business plan of where I want my career to be in 5 years - and it includes both sides of publishing. 

    Why? Because I love both.

    I plan to build my street team and connect to readers more on a personal level, which also includes a better newsletter and more intimate street team.

    I am just getting started and already on a great track. Logging 10,000 words in just 2 weeks (and that's over the holidays!)

    Will I be able to do all this? Who knows....but I am sure going to try. 

    Again this all depends on what happens along the way - this could do a total 180 b/c it factors in no outside sources or things that come up.  

    But you know what They say. "Shoot for the moon, if you miss, you'll land on a star."

    What are your goals for 2014?