I just finished my first semester of my Bachelor’s degree in marketing. It’s the first step in a long journey, but it’s progress. Looking at my (unofficial) transcript evaluation, I have quite a ways to go before I hold that piece of paper in my hands. I’m still proud of myself for taking this step, though. I know more about marketing than I knew 16 weeks ago, and I’m pretty sure I made the Dean’s List.
I’m also really glad I have the next three weeks off before jumping into the next semester. My brain is happy for the break.
I plan on using this time to finish my WIP (second chance divorce romance), complete final edits for A Disturbing Prospect, enjoy the holidays with my family, and in general just rest. It’s been a rough 16 weeks full of the typical stress of college, plus some health issues and financial struggles.
So your Book+Main author account has been approved. You’re ready to start posting bites, but you don’t know where to start. Don’t worry—I’ve got your back with five quick tips!
Pick an Enticing Bite
Start off with selecting a scene from your book. Bites seem to work best when the scene is short but leaves the reader aching for more. The point here, after all, is to give readers a tiny taste of your story that’ll make them want the whole dessert. Pick a passage that doesn’t need a whole lot of context and ends on a sort of cliffhanger.
Choose a Relevant, Eye-Catching Image
You can’t post a bite without an image, and it’s the first thing that readers see as they’re scrolling through the site or app, so you need to make it a good one. (Friendly reminder that you must have the rights to use any images you post! Swiping pics from Pinterest, etc is absolutely not allowed.) Just like with teaser images, you don’t want to just slap any pic on your bite.
Some good practices for choosing stock photos for bites include:
Use a horizontal image. Book+Main’s image uploader lets you crop, but vertical images can be tricky.
This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many bites I’ve read only to find that the author hasn’t linked the book to their account (or, worse, they linked the wrong book). To add your books, go to your Dashboard. Under My Books, click Add Book. You can add books by ASIN or ISBN.
Make sure you add both your Amazon and iBooks links, whenever possible. The goal here is to capture sales, and not every reader prefers Kindle.
Share on Social Media
Since Book+Main is just starting out, you might find that your readers aren’t there yet. It’s your job to entice them over to the dark side—I mean, website. Once you’ve posted a bite, share it on your existing platform: social media, email list, etc.
Book+Main says you can only post three bites a day. When I got approved, it was only a few hours before midnight, so I went wild and posted three bites back to back. Turns out you can only post three within a 24-hour period.
To use this to your benefit, take advantage of Book+Main’s scheduling feature. It’s actually pretty simple. Just choose the date and time.
Book+Main is still new, so no one knows its peak times… yet. (Meaning, when the most people are on.) Facebook’s seems to be 8:00 a.m. and Twitter’s seems to be 1:00 p.m. EST—your mileage may vary. At the moment, I’m scheduling bites for either of those times, to see if that makes a difference.
Test, Test, Test
Don’t be afraid to try new things (within Book+Main’s rules, of course). We have the opportunity to be the pioneers of this new site, so have fun with it! Make note of things that work and things that don’t.
Are you on Book+Main? Follow me and I’ll follow you back!
As a small business owner—yes, writing books is a small business!—I’m always looking for interesting ways to get myself and my books in front of new readers. So when Paperless Post approached me, I thought “Why not?”
I’d recently released Any Other Love and thought Paperless Post’s cards would be a fun way to announce the book to my readers. I have to admit, at first I misunderstood and thought they were sending me 800 free coins for physical cards. I had visions of swag postcards dancing in my head. So I was a little bummed when I discovered I was “only” getting digital cards. My first thought was “Who sends e-cards anymore? It’s not the ’90s!” My second thought was “I can make this work.”
In the meantime, I’d set up giveaways via Goodreads for Just One More Minute and Any Other Love paperbacks. I decided that using Paperless Post would be a fun way to let my email list know about the giveaways, and started off by browsing their Business Launch and Event cards.
Figuring out the Paperless Post site came with a bit of a learning curve. I’d expected an interface more like Vistaprint’s, where I can edit text boxes with just one click, and place them wherever I want. Paperless Press is sort of like that; I could edit the text, but I couldn’t move it around on the card. I found myself a bit limited with what I could do. I could also start with a blank card and add my own image, but I only got a single large text box superimposed over the image. Since the image I planned to use was a book cover with its own text, that wouldn’t work.
I thought I’d just use a teaser, then, but I couldn’t resize the image; when I uploaded it, Paperless Post dropped it onto the card at an odd size. It took some playing around, but I ultimately found a card that matched the cover of Just One More Minute. (I’d really wanted to use Any Other Love‘s cover, but beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose.)
The design just so happened to have an envelope liner option that exactly matched Just One More Minute, which was cool but there wasn’t a way to choose an exact color. If I’d stuck with the Any Other Love cover, I would’ve ended up with a card that clashed.
I also wasn’t sure why an e-card needed an envelope, but what do I know?
Paperless Post’s behind-the-scenes magic automatically addresses each envelope for you. (Their physical cards have a similar option, and you can have Paperless Post mail them out for you.) I could’ve chosen a fancy stamp, but I stuck with the default one because it would’ve been at least one more coin per email address. Each card starts off costing two coins per email, and I have almost 400 subscribers, so I had to be careful.
Here’s where I spent an embarrassing amount of time being confused. On the next screen, you can pick a reply card option. Since I was just letting people know about the giveaways, not inviting them to an event where they’d have to RSVP, I didn’t need the default “yes or no” reply card. It took me a bit of playing around to figure out how to change it to a simple call to action with a linked button.
I could’ve changed the reply card’s design and its backdrop, but I decided to keep them simple. I wanted the book to be the focus.
I also couldn’t figure out how to change the text on the reply card. Hoping I could figure it out later, I clicked “done.” I didn’t have to wait long, because on the next screen, I could customize the text itself.
Finally, it was time to add my recipients. I could add them one by one, or I could import contacts under the “email list” option. I initially thought the email list option actually connected my MailChimp account, for example, and then imported my subscribers. That would be cool. Instead, I got a downloadable spreadsheet and had to manually add 300+ people to it. Thank goodness for copy and paste; I exported my MailChimp list as a .csv, then copied the names and emails.
To be fair, my use of the card was a bit unorthodox; Paperless Post is intended for things like birthday parties and weddings. The average person would’ve just imported their contacts from their address book.
Before sending my card, I previewed it in my browser and emailed myself a test.
Then I sent the card off! I sent it to myself, as well, so I was able to open up the actual email and make sure everything worked properly.
The animation is actually pretty cool. I saw right away why I needed an envelope. The flap opens and the card slides out. That’s not the coolest part, though.
Once my cards were sent, I could see who opened them in real time. My readers could even send me private messages.
If this were an event requiring RSVPs, recipients could click yes or no, and I’d see right away which they’d chosen. For my purposes, though, I could see as soon as someone opened it. I didn’t know whether they clicked my link, though—at least not through Paperless Post’s interface. (Instead, I used my website traffic stats to get a general idea of how many people clicked.)
I got a few messages thanking me for the giveaway, which was pretty cool. When I send regular newsletters, it’s rare that I get replies. (Does my aunt count? No? Damn.) It’s totally okay, because my email list has a higher than industry open rate, so I know my readers care. (Seriously—experts say to feel lucky if 18% of subscribers open; my average is something like 30%.)
All told, sending these e-cards would’ve cost me about $75 out of pocket. (I used 755 coins; 600 coins cost $60 USD and an additional 200 coins are $28—or I could’ve purchased 1,000 coins for $90.) Also, you can’t use coins to send paper cards. Though it’s an interesting concept, I’m not sure that I would spend $75 on e-cards. On the other hand, their RSVP response and private message system for paper cards would’ve come in handy when I got married. Their prices for print cards are comparable to, say, Vistaprint, so check them out!
When was the last time you sent an e-card? Let me know in the comments!
Disclaimer:Paperless Post provided me with 800 free coins in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
I love the newness of this time of year. Maybe it’s because it’s almost my birthday, marking the beginning of another year of life. Or maybe it’s because, all throughout childhood, this is always the time I’d be getting ready to start a new year of school. Whatever it is, the end of summer and early fall—this in between time—have always brimmed with possibility.
This is usually when my writing is most productive. Last year around this time, I wrote a 60K-word novel in two weeks. This year, I’ll be doing something a bit different.
I’m going back to school.
Throughout the past six years, I’ve learned a lot about publishing. I’ve released 11 novels (plus some now out of print short stories and novellas). I’m damn proud of all I’ve accomplished—especially recently making the bestseller list in three Amazon categories—and I’m looking forward to a lifelong career.
I’ve also long felt like I’ve been missing some valuable piece, though.
Whether I’ve been with a publisher or independent, I’ve been responsible for the majority of my marketing. While I can do things like write a marketing plan and create an email sequence, there’s a lot more I need to learn.
So I’ve decided to go back to school.
I thought about it all summer, and then two weeks ago I applied to a program before I could change my mind. I start my B.S. in marketing on Monday.
I’m hoping that it won’t affect my production schedule too much, but since it’s an accelerated program, I know I’m going to have to make some sacrifices. I can’t do it all.
For the next eight weeks, I won’t be blogging much.
Aside from scheduled Facebook posts, I likely won’t be on social media often, either. I’ll do my best to reply to comments, but please know that studying will have taken over my life.
I will continue monthly email newsletters. You can expect them on Friday, September 8th and Friday, October 6th. (If you’re not already on my email list, sign up here.)
I’ve started working on a new novel. It’s a standalone second chance romance. I don’t have a release date for it yet, and likely won’t for a while. I do hope to continue publishing regularly, though.
I’m so excited to announce that I’m hanging up a shingle for blurb writing services. Writing the blurb—or product description—can be the hardest part of the publication process for authors. I have to admit that I actually enjoy writing blurbs; sometimes I even write them before I’ve written the book!
Recently Facebook started rolling out a new feature: the ability to make a Facebook Page the administrator of a Group. Through this feature, you can now post to your Group as your Page. This eliminates a lot of headache for authors using a pen name. Previously, authors who were using an anonymous pen name or who wanted to separate their personal life from their business had to create a second Facebook account, because you could only post to a group through your personal profile. This was kind of a pain in the ass, though, because then you had multiple accounts to run, plus your author Page(s) and Group(s).
For example, if I’m running a pre-order for my upcoming release, I would:
post to my reader Group through my author profile to let my inner tribe know first
post to my author Page to let all of my fans know
post to my author profile to let all of my author friends and a few readers know
post to my personal profile to let close friends and family know
As you can imagine, this gets exhausting—especially if you have a limited supply of energy in the first place. Who has time to deal with all that on top of running a business, writing a new book, and managing a chronic illness?
I saw that a couple friends had been able to make their Pages an admin of their group, and desperately wanted to know how. At the time, though, Facebook was just rolling out this feature and only a percentage of users were getting access. So I continued with my lengthy process—until Facebook released the feature wide and I accidentally stumbled upon it.
I figured I’d share the steps with you so that you can make your life a bit easier, too.
Go to your Facebook author Page. As far as I’m aware, this feature can only be set up while on the desktop/browser version of Facebook (not the mobile or tablet versions).
On the lefthand side, you’ll see your tabs. There is now a Groups tab. Click on that.
There will be a prompt to connect a Group with your Page. You can do this with multiple Groups that you run, by the way. However, I don’t think you can do this with Groups that you’re just a member of. Follow the prompts and Facebook will make your Page an administrator of your Group.
Go to your Group; you can now post as your Page! There will also be an automatic notification to the Group that you’ve made your Page an admin.
When you visit your Page now, there will be a Group widget at the top (much like the Shop widget). Fans of the Page will now see your Group, and members of your Group will be able to see the latest Group post right from your Page.
I’m hoping this new feature will allow for easier growth of my Group. At the very least, it’s cut down on the amount of time it takes for me to manage everything. Now I can deactivate my author account and simplify things a bit!
It’s that time! I’m taking signups for those who would like an Any Other Love ARC. Please read the following carefully, then fill out the form to submit your request. If accepted, you will be notified by email and added to an ARC team email list. I will only contact you regarding Any Other Love, unless you choose to be contacted about future releases.
About Any Other Love
From the outside, Amarie has it all: a promising teaching career, a big group of friends, and a gorgeous boyfriend. On the inside, though, her immune system is attacking her own body and slowly taking away everything she loves. The specialists she’s seen are baffled by her condition, so Amarie takes matters into her own hands and makes an appointment with a renowned rheumatologist in NYC. She could finally get the diagnosis and treatment she needs to live her life—if only she can get there.
Charlotte may dye her hair bold colors, but she’s never been brave enough to chase her lifelong dream of owning her own restaurant. When she finds out about a restauranteur convention in NYC, she’s way too chicken to go for it—until her best friend signs her up. With no excuses left, Char heads out to the city, taking the girl of her dreams with her.
Five nights under the city lights could give Amarie and Char the happily-ever-after they’ve always wanted, but a devastating diagnosis and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity could send it all crashing down.
Any Other Love is a f/f romance.
Available August 21st
Cover Reveal August 7th
Any Other Love ARC FAQs
What is an ARC?
An ARC is an advanced review copy. They’re provided by publishers to get reviews for upcoming releases. Early reviews are important for a few reasons. A new book with zero reviews can be overlooked; reviews—whether 1- or 5-star—are social proof. They show readers that other people have read the book. They also help readers decide whether a book is the right choice for them.
Reviews are important for authors because many advertising services will not accept books with less than 10 reviews. Some require even more!
By posting your honest review, you’re not only helping other readers; you’re also helping authors.
What do I need to do?
All you have to do is read Any Other Love and post your honest review on Amazon on August 21st. I will email you reminders and links for posting.
Your review can be one or two sentences, simply saying whether you liked the book or not. Please be honest! Your review is mainly for other readers.
Note: I’ve heard about other authors who kick readers off their ARC teams for leaving “bad” reviews. This has become a legitimate concern among reviewers, especially when reviewing indie authors’ books. I have not and never would delete a reader for leaving a review that I might perceive as negative.
I do, however, remove readers who constantly request ARCs from me but never actually post reviews. This is an effort to fight piracy (there are people who pose as readers and then put the ebook for sale illegally on other channels). Please contact me if you have any questions.
What is a Kindle email?
Your Kindle email is provided when you set up a Kindle account. I can send your copy of Any Other Love directly to your Kindle device or app if you give me your Kindle email. You must also add @gmail.com to your approved list.
As I mentioned above, there are some people posing as readers requesting ARCs who never actually leave a review. Instead, they take the ebook file and sell it on illegal channels. In an effort to cut down on piracy of my books, I’m asking readers who are requesting ARCs to link to a previous review of one of my books.
If you’ve never read one of my books before, please feel free to link to a review of any other book. I’m just looking for legitimacy, so please don’t sweat it. Email me if you have any questions or concerns!
Why are you asking for social media links?
It’s not at all required, but I may ask you to share your review on social media if you’d like. I would then visit your page and share the review to my own social media for marketing purposes. I may also ask if you’d like to participate in the cover reveal, and it’ll be easier if I already have your links. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing them with me, just leave them blank. No worries! I just like being organized and planning ahead.
When will ARCs be sent?
I will be sending out ARCs on or by July 21st. If I send you a Kindle edition, I’ll notify you by email and, I believe, you’ll also receive a notification from Amazon. Regardless, I’ll be keeping you in the loop throughout the next couple of weeks!
Fill out the form below to request an ARC of Any Other Love. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me.
I can’t believe we’re already almost halfway through 2017. The past six months have been tumultuous, to say the least—not just in the publishing industry but also throughout the world and in my personal life. At this point I’m writing just to give myself some sort of center of gravity.
Or maybe it’s way too late for that.
Toward the end of every quarter, I review my current business plan and see where I’m at. I also re-evaluate my writing goals for the year. I try to keep track of that here on my blog but yeah. I posted my original plan toward the end of last year, but forgot to post when I updated my plan in March. So if it seems like you’re missing something, that’s why.
I recently realized that I was pressuring myself to write every book as a series just for the sake of writing a series. Sometimes books truly are standalones and there isn’t enough story to span over three, five, or more books. It took me a long time to stop being stubborn and “should”ing on myself. I also had to acknowledge that my series wasn’t selling well enough to justify writing yet another book.
I did write a fourth book for the SOF series, but it just didn’t feel genuine to me. I ended up scrapping thousands of words because I can’t publish something I’m not proud of, even if it means losing money or ending a series a bit early. I look at it this way: if I’m not into it, my readers won’t be, either.
Right now I’m writing the companion novel to Just One More Minute—small town f/f romance Any Other Love. It will be released this summer.
I’m also working on a new series that will begin this fall.
I’m still working on getting my books back into paperback editions; I’ve been using Vellum to format my ebooks and when they announced they’d be adding paperback formatting this summer, I decided to wait for that. If you’re an indie on a Mac, I highly recommend Vellum. It’s amazing.
Marketing and Platform Building
I’ve been trying some new marketing strategies, mainly to build my email list. To be completely raw here, I have little to no marketing budget (though I’ve been doing a lot of copywriting in an effort to change this). Much of what I do has to be at low financial cost right now. This includes:
using Instafreebie, Bookfunnel, and Noisetrade to give away copies of books in exchange for readers’ email addresses and permission to join my list
joining cross-promotions with other authors in my genre
organizing my own cross-promos (though admittedly this is a lot of work and akin to herding kittens)
When my new book comes out this summer, I’ll have a small advertising budget, but I’m planning on doing more advertising for my new series.
I’m also working on expanding my social media platform—mostly on Facebook. Throughout the past five years, I’ve determined that the majority of my readers and intended readers hang out on Facebook. This is backed up by research conducted by marketing experts (see Smarty Pants Book Marketing Podcast: Episode 39).
Recently I separated my personal and business Facebook profiles. I’ve also been making an effort to post to my author page three to five times a week, with more frequent posts in my reader group (as well as more live videos). I’m considering doing some takeovers again, though in the past I felt that they were very time-consuming with only a small amount of ROI.
Mostly, though, I’m spending my time writing.
Basically I’m going to regain momentum in the second half of this year. I’d love to get back to releasing every two or three months.
I’ll have more details—and actual dates—soon.
Get a Free Copy of Diving Into Him
Jett might be sober, but she can’t kick her addiction to Koty.
Join my email list to get your FREE ebook copy. Click here!
Sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll—that was Jett Costa’s old life. After her wildly popular band falls apart, she’s determined to remain sober and rebuild her career. There’s just one problem. The only person who still has any faith in her is her ex-boyfriend Koty, and Jett isn’t sure that she can keep her hands off him.
Maybe living together wasn’t such a great idea after all.
She may have been sober when she made that decision, but she definitely wasn’t when she agreed to play a show on behalf of a band that no longer exists at one of the biggest bars in Boston. Now she has less than three weeks to get her new band together. Can she ignore the sizzling sparks that fly between her and Koty every time they play?
Five years ago, when I first started out on my publishing journey, I naively thought that I could use my existing social media for my new business. It wasn’t hard to separate business from personal at first, but everything changed when I signed with my publisher. Suddenly authors were friend-requesting me on Facebook, even though I’d resolved to keep my personal profile separate from my business page. I felt bad denying requests, though, and soon my feed became a mix of everything ever.
A friend suggested I make a separate account strictly for business. She’d done so and, even though it was one more account to manage, it’d helped her separate the two. I still stubbornly insisted that I only wanted one. Over the years, readers began friend-requesting me from my reader group. It was fun being friends with both readers and colleagues as well as my IRL family and friends, but it also got tricky.
For example, if I wanted to go on Facebook just for fun, there was no avoiding work-related things. If a friend tagged me in an off-color meme, I had to do damage control.
Keeping the two separate was getting more and more difficult. I kept tossing the idea around, but hesitated because creating a second account and moving people, pages, and groups around would be a gargantuan task. It wasn’t as if I had spare hours to just sit around cleaning up my social media act.
This weekend I decided it was time, though. Today I sat down and created a separate Facebook; soon I’ll be doing the same for Twitter. If you’re an author, reader, or someone else in the book biz and you get a friend request from this account, it’s really me. I’m friend-requesting here and there, though, so it doesn’t get too tedious or hard on my wrists. Feel free to add me if I haven’t already made it to you!
There’s an old saying that you can’t mix business with pleasure, and even though I love what I do, it’s still true. I’m really looking forward to being able to sign into Twitter, for example, and just see book stuff.
Speaking of book stuff, today I hit 28K for Any Other Love. I’m thinking about release dates now, and I’ll be able to share more info soon! 💜
The other day, right after I finished bitching about my “super bug” here, I found out that my girl friend, her husband, and her youngest daughter all have the same thing—killing my theory that this was just my immune system being an asshole. My girl friend said she and her husband were convinced it’s the flu, which made me stop and think. I’d said several times to Mike that this felt like the flu. Could it really be, even though I’d gotten my flu shot?
For hahas, I looked up flu symptoms and yup, it’s the flu—to a T. I had to come out of denial and surrender to the enemy. It was way too late for Tamiflu, so I’ve had to just ride it out: DayQuil severe, Gatorade, ginger ale, and rest. I didn’t bother with seeing a doctor, because there’s nothing they can do for me.
12 days in, I’m still exhausted. Today I have a bit more energy, so I’ve mostly been reading Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran on my iPad and doing some administrative things with my books (categories, keywords, etc)—when I have a bit of energy. The tiniest things wipe me out, which sucks. I’ve said “This sucks!” more times in the past two weeks than I have the entire time I was a surly teenager.
I’d planned a blog hop, which pretty much got blown because almost 50% of us have the damn flu. I’d also planned on finishing beta reading for my CP, which I’ve been doing in tiny bursts. And I’d planned on re-outlining SOF4 this week, but my brain is mush, I tell you.
I’m not good at resting. I’ve always been a go-getter, so one of the things I’ve struggled with the most since getting sick in 2007 is just resting. I’m stubborn and impatient, so sitting still is not my forte. I’m absolutely sick to death of Netflix right now, so reading marketing books is a compromise. And even then, I can only do it in bursts because brain fog.
Just writing this blog post will cost me—which feels pathetic to me and not many people understand how this can be. But that’s the thing about autoimmune diseases and chronic illness in general; the invisible illness takes such a toll on your system, it’s exhausting. Throw in an illness like the flu, and you’re microwaved zombie.
You’d think, after almost 10 years, I’d be used to this by now, but no. I still hate it, I still get frustrated with myself, and I still stubbornly try to push my body. But the harder I push myself, the more I pay for it after.
The good news is, the flu won’t last forever, and the Prednisone/Plaquenil cocktail I’m on now should help with the pain and fatigue. Granted, it’ll be about six months before I notice any real difference. In the meantime, I need to practice patience with myself—which has been a theme in my life.
I’m getting there.
Need to get in the holiday spirit? I’ve got goodies for you!