mistakes authors make at events and how to fix them, advice, help ,

Mistakes Authors Make at Events (And How To Avoid Them)

Not knowing how to pitch your book

This seems obvious, but I can’t count how many times I have asked an author to tell me about there book, and received, “Um, I don’t know, it’s a sci-fi love story blah blah”. If you are speaking about your book, the words um, I don’t know, typical, and standard do not exist in your vocabulary.

Using your phone instead of your finesse

Okay that was a play on words, but really- if you are at an event, BE at the event, not on Facebook the whole time. More often than not, you are paying for events  you attend, so you better make it worth it. Make a rule: you are only allowed to use your phone for necessary communication and/or promoting the event of social apps. That means phones are used maybe 10-20% of the time, and the rest of the time you should be talking to customers and readers whenever possible. Being shy isn’t really an option in this sort of situation, so fake it until you make it!

Not preparing beforehand

If you go to an event without having done any promoting or preparation, it’s basically like going to the prom without telling any of your friends and hiding in a corner by the bleachers. You should have extra books, plenty of swag, flyer handouts with your social info on them, already planned. You need to know where you’re located so you know where to send people. You need to contact local media, friends, family, co-workers, etc and tell them you will be there. You need to make sure you understand the criteria for having electricity at your booth, if you can hang banners and what materials you may need, how much table space you have, how many chairs are included and if you need to bring your own. You need to create a FB event, share photos on instagram and twitter of the location, your poster, and the festival advertisement ahead of time. There is a LOT that goes into an event, and if you’re not prepared to do it all, you are wasting your time and your money.

You forgot about curb appeal

When you sell books at an event, your table or booth is essentially a mini-storefront for your brand. If you have a pile of books on the table and a tiny poster as your entire display, prepare yourself to not make a lot of sales. You need to make sure you have displays (the plastic book stands can be bought at Michael’s or JoAnn’s for about $1), you need to have banners or stands with attractive posters. Have some friends hang out around your area (not gabbing to you the whole time) to demonstrate that you are interesting and then send them to walk the event with your swag and flyers to hand out. Look as professional and put together as possible, and if you have swag, make sure it’s creatively designed and front and center on your table.

Showing up to the wrong event

Most of the time, authors look for the biggest baddest event in their area to get the most bang for their buck. While this makes perfect sense in theory, those events usually end up being a Comic Con or the like. If you have an anime/comic/superhero inspired novel, this might just work for you, but if you have a single YA historical romance novel, chances are you are out of your breadth and out of your target audience. There are SO many famous actors, comic artists, and screenwriters there that your one novel, despite how great it is, probably won’t be making a splash, or even a ripple. If you team up with your publisher or a whole gang of similar artists, your powers combined might be able to pull through some sales, but otherwise I would hold off. Find events specific to the genre or content of your book and build your fanbase in an area there. Until you have made your name in at least the local area, you are 99% of the time, better off not going to a Comic Con.

Z is for Zilch- As in The Writer’s Block Mind and It’s Cause

ZYou sit at your desk, light on, fresh coffee steaming to your left, and a blank screen burning holes into your corneas. You’ve finally made time to write, and your mind goes completely blank. You know it well, it’s a well feared plague among writers everywhere. Writer’s block.

While I myself am not a long form writer, I obviously am around them often enough to see it happen on a regular basis, and to see more, “How To Get Over Writer’s Block” posts to vom. Oddly enough, I’m pretty sure I know exactly what it feels like.

I’m a runner….sometimes. I love running, but I also hate it. When I actually drag myself outside and hit the pavement, I always come back with a runner’s high and a new dedication to the activity and wonder why I don’t do it every single day. Then the next day rolls around and it’s like pulling teeth from an angry polar bear to get myself to lace up my sneakers.

If I don’t run for a few days, it’s even harder to get myself to do it. However when I suck it up and run for a handful of days in a row, it gets easier to convince myself to do. I get over the initial abhorrence of how slow I’ve become, how fast I tire, because I can feel myself improving. This is near identical to how the writing mind works. The human brain is a muscle just like everything else, if you are not stretching it, not exercising it every day (and not just to do your taxes), it seemingly becomes harder to do.

Laziness begets laziness, and while I’m not saying writer’s block is necessarily an issue of laziness, it breeds in the same way. IF you can force yourself to write every day or near that for an extended period of time, it will become second nature, a habit, and the writer’s block will eventually be replaced with a sort of creative autopilot. You have to train yourself to be in a creative state of mind by putting yourself in that position and just frakking doing it day after day. I understand it’s impossible for most people to carve out 5 hours of writing time every day, what with life, work, children, parents, school etc etc. Duration doesn’t necessarily matter as much as doing. Just grab 20 mins here, 50 minutes there, but do it. Any day you aren’t going to write needs to be a day where you are expanding your mind and creativity a little bit. Have a parent-teacher conference that cuts into your writing time. FINE. See if you can chat with some of the kids or parents to help gain insight into your MG character or that stressed adult protag you just can’t seem to bring to life. As a writer you have two responsibilities. To write often, and often enough that you better yourself little by little, and to live. To live in a way that broadens your perceptions of people, behavior, and the world itself, so that when you do write, you are speaking authentically and realistically.

Not every aspect of your novel needs to be method written (in fact, please do not write from experience if your character is, say, a serial killer), but you do need to keep your creativity and mental writer alive and interested enough that you can sit down every day and write something. I don’t care if you end up spending most the time writing about the quirky old lady down the street instead of your fantasy WIP, just keep writing until you’re inspired enough to finish that sentence, that chapter, the book, that series.

Live long and prosper. And write.

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Y is for Yummy – deliciously hot actors and the fictional characters they play!

YEveryone has a favourite book boyfriend, and seeing them on-screen in the movie adaptation of their books just adds to their swoon-worthiness. Here’s our list of deliciously hot actors and the fictional characters they play!

*warning: drooling may occur with prolonged exposure*

 

 

 

Theo James as Tobias “Four” Eaton, in the Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

Four

I’m pretty sure this is on top of every girl and gay’s fictional/movie boyfriend wishlist. We fell in love with Four in the novel Divergent, but when the director cast Theo James as his motion picture counterpart we all lost our shiitake mushrooms. The film industry has definitely figured out the winning formula: equal parts badass fighter and hunky man-candy.

Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

Matthew Lewis who portrays Neville Longbottom in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" attends the Chicago; Illinois premiere at the AMC Theater on July 14, 2011.  Fame Pictures, Inc - Santa Monica, CA, USA - +1 (310) 395-0500

Neville Longbottom wins the prize for growing out of puberty with style, throughout the series he went from pudgy sidekick to hero with dimples and sexy beard scruff. He started gaining attention during the Half-Blood Prince, but we’ve always loved his sweet sensibilities and hilarious comic relief.

Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair, in the Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

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Tell, who can resist a man who dedicates himself to his love even after she loses her sanity, takes care of an elderly woman likes she’s his own mother, and has dimples? NO ONE. We aren’t arguing about this blonde fisherman wearing nothing but nets either.

Kellan Lutz as Emmett Cullen, in the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

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We know everyone is all Team Edward or Team Jacob, but the unsung hottie of that series is Kellan Lutz, aka Emmett. He’s Rosalie’s beau and even when she’s being a total bitch, he keeps her in check with a smirk and gesture. Plus, check out those guns, he looks like he benches Redwood trees.

Nicholas Hoult as R, in Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

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We love a good zombie book turned movie as much as the next nerd, but rarely are we crushing on a zombo. When they cast Nicholas Hoult to play R in the movie adaption of Warm Bodies, we definitely understood what a sexy zombie looked like. His blue eyes and ruffled hair completely negated the fact that he was, well, dead.

Kyle Gallner as Larkin Ravenwood, in Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

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We all love a good bad boy, and while Kyle plays a snake in the series, he does it while looking stylish. Something about his boyish face and offset hair has all of thinking about switching to the dark side.

Kevin Zegers as Alec Lightwood, in the Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

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Jace may be the main man of the series, but there’s just something about Alec’s baby blues in the form of Kevin Zegers that has us all swooning. If he didn’t have an uber-powerful warlock boyfriend we might try and win him over, but Magnus would probably turn his competition into cats.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow, in the A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin

Jon

He’s the bastard of Stark House but no one cares because he’s got honor, bravery, and the most luscious curly black locks we’ve ever seen on a man. It’s no wonder he broke his vow as a man of the Night’s Watch, if real life is any indicator he must have had women lining up to get with him!

Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, in the Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

Gale

I think it’s fair to say that any brother of Thor is going to be a winner, but paired with the bravery and shy love that begets the character of Gale, he is absolutely dreamy.

Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian, in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Caspian

Narnia may have been our childhood read, but when they cast Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian, we definitely started paying attention again! We love a man with goals, and he definitely has them, not to mention some serious hair envy!

Orlando Bloom as Legolas Greenleaf, in the lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

Legolas

There’s just something about a man in elf ears that is just so damn attractive, especially when they are on Orlando Bloom. His razor sharp cheekbones had everyone falling for Legolas far before he became a pirate!
Cara Delevingne as Margo Roth Spiegelman, in Paper Towns by John Green

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While Cara may not technically be a dude we want to boyfriend her anyway! How can you pass up a second glance at the spontaneity of Margo Roth’s character played by an actress/model combo who has walked the walk from London Fashion week to Victoria’s Secret.

 

Women, Winning, and Other W words

a to z blog challenge w, women, winning, Today’s A-Z challenge letter is W, so as a female I obviously knew something about women was going to be part of the conversation. There are a lot of areas where women ‘fall short’, in the public eye, such as video game and comic usage, science-based careers, equal pay, and even the ratio of successful male to female authors.

Sit tight, we’re working on those, but in the meantime, there are a few things we’re kicking butt at. More women are writing books, and hitting huge success with it (see: Cassandra Clare, Veronica Roth, Gail Forman, and Suzanne Collins, they’ve all had motion picture adaptations). DC is coming out with a graphic novel series geared specifically towards women. We dominate male readers in fiction, occupying only 20% of the fiction market. Twitter has been taken over with hashtags such to #tothegirls, promoting self-confidence and loving oneself, encouraging girls to bust open that glass ceiling and to speak their minds. The one W we are saying goodbye to? Weakness. With campaigns such as #tothegirls and #yesallwomen, there has been an extremely strong response from women across the world, and a fair amount of men chiming in to say that women are just as tough as men.

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Here are some of the female authors I’ve read recently that are absolutely #winning in my book (pun intended):

Charlie N. Holmberg’s Paper Magician Series

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J.E. Anckorn’s Untaken

Cora Carmack’s Inspire

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Annika Sharma’s The Rearranged Life

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Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s Caster Chronicles Series

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Sandy Hall’s A Little Something Different

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Katie Young’s The Other Lamb

The Other Lamb, by Katie Young - Cover

 

N is for Nikki’s Story!

N“Nikki, stop reading, you’re going to fall down the stairs!” “Have you been reading this whole time, class started 20 minutes ago!” This was basically my childhood in a nutshell. Oddly enough, when the time came for the big question, “what do you want to do with your life?”, my first instinct wasn’t to look into the book industry.   Honestly, I didn’t even think it was a possibility or a real career, and by the time I figured it out, the industry was really competitive.

So, I studied marketing and loved every minute of it. When graduation loomed, hard work and crazy random happenstance sent me in the direction of Curiosity Quills Press as a marketing and executive assistant. My brain thought, “hmm, I like books, I like marketing, this will be great”….and it was 100% correct. I love my job every day, even on bad days, I can still say I am passionate about what I do. However, this sort of occupational luxury did come with a cost of sorts. Seeing the behind-the-scenes of book creation and the trials and tribulations of authors gives me a whole new perspective on books, and a critical eye. For a while I viewed every single error in every book I read and judged it solely based on how perfect it was ‘on paper’.

I can’t even count a hands worth of times that I’ve reviewed a novel before I was in the industry. I’ve seen two author signings, recommended maybe 4 books in my whole life, and that’s about the most community participation I had done at the time. I had to re-learn to appreciate books for more than their editing quality, or how many widows were left in the formatting. I’ve been a huge book nerd since I could read, but it had always been about escaping for me, about how the book makes me feel. Thankfully, hearing my authors talk about why they wrote the book, and what the characters’ struggles meant to me gave me a whole new insight into the literary world that unfortunately most readers aren’t able to see. My escape came back with a vengeance, and I now read more than ever.tumblr_n6gceb8p9H1sk9teio1_500

In fact, when it came time to find a new slogan for CQ, ‘Find Your Escape’ seemed like the best possible solution. I think the most important thing I’ve learned both as a marketer and a publisher is that it’s not about finding the perfect book. It’s about finding the perfect book for you, over and over again, and that the emotion it brings to you is way more valuable and any sort of statistic. To my delight, I’ve also learned in the past two years that today’s readers are so much more fun than I was, and so much more involved. From booktubers (shoutout to Sasha from ABookTopia and Ben from BenjaminofTomes!), to tumblr fans, to end-of-book surveys, our readers are all about telling the world what they think about books and finding each other’s next escape.

I’ve also learned that I’m a giant cliche, because I constantly feel the need to thank our readers for being so amazing, and making dreams come true for all of our authors. I’m not lying when I say every single 5 star review is an author fangirl party for them and us at CQ.

So stay classy book world, thanks for making this an adventure every day (sans the gold-hoarding dragons, those can keep their distance).

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M is for Marketing

MHow do I market my book? We get this question in our inbox on a daily basis, and it plagues almost every author out there. Often the answer is a menagerie of social networks, advertising, and blog tours all saying, “Buy my book”.  Problem is, these have become so convoluted and cluttered that it winds up being a messy routine of spam, confusion, and money pits. Here’s another M word for you: Me-Monster. That’s right, Me-Monster. Me-Monsters are the people that make everything about them in a conversation. No one likes them at the dinner table and no one likes them online, so don’t just post about yourself, interact, engage, and in general give a crap about what other people have to say (at least some of them, I’m not sure Miley Cyrus is really bringing heated conversation to the table…).

 

While we are going to give you some tips and tools on marketing in today’s post, we are not by any means saying this is a recipe for success. There are a lot of factors that go into making a successful book and sometimes the largest one can be luck, but most of the time, it’s writing a dang good book, over and over and over again.

 

Non-social tips:

 

Make a professional brand to identify yourself, even if that’s simply your name in a certain font and color. Use it on socials, your blog, your business card, your letterhead.
A note on swag: please don’t simply make a variety of bracelets, tattoos, and stickers with your name on them. It’s sort of weird to ask people to walk around wearing your name, and the whole point of swag is to offer an interesting small gift- make it interesting.

 

Events, they aren’t always a waste of time, but if you’re sitting in the corner of your booth waiting for fans to rush in, it is exactly that. You better be out there chatting people up, visiting other booths, and brushing up with the organizers if they aren’t too busy (you never know if they’ll remember you come next year when they need a friendly guest author).

 

Don’t spend thousands of dollars on advertising unless you are really sure it’s going to hit your audience well and you have a strong ad. Advertising can be a potent tool in promoting a novel; however there are many sites are out there claiming book promotion with them leads to a NY Times best seller listing, for the cheap price of an arm, a leg, a thousand bucks and your first born child.

 

Sometimes the best advertising isn’t done after the book release when you can scream BUY MY BOOK, but well before. Craft ads in sets that focus on the hook of your novel, or that are simply interesting to read/look at based on your cover scheme, so that when the book comes out, they will recognize it from the ads and be intrigued. My favorite example of this is recently is the The Wicked Will Rise Wanted posters by Epic Reads.

 

Participate around your community if possible, not just because it’s a great thing to do, but also because word of mouth is a great way to get your book out there. Your local reporter might think it’s interesting that the set designer for the local children’s play also writes novels.

 

Social Tips:

 

Utilize hashtags – whether you’re talking about your book or something else, join in on conversations and connect with other people via hashtags. I’m sure you all know the one for the #AtoZChallenge, and of course for authors there’s #amwriting, #amediting, #amreading. There’s also genre-based ones, like #PNR for paranormal-romance.

 

Also, see what’s trending. Don’t reply to EVERY trending topic, but if something trending interests you, like a popular TV show, movie, or book, comment on it. It’s a great way to join in conversations and meet new people.

 

Be visual – If you’re scrolling through your newsfeed, posts with images will more likely grab your attention. Use free stock images, or designs of your own creation based on your cover, to make eye-catching teasers and graphics.

 

Post with regularity – Obviously spamming is bad, and posting “buy my books” twenty times a day will do more harm than good, but if people get used to seeing your presence online and you participating it certain things – Tweet chats for example – disappearing for months on end will also do damage.

 

Join FB groups – Facebook is a treasure trove of groups. Some are purely for promotion, and you can post teasers, sales news, releases blitzes etc. Others are discussion groups where you can meet like-minded people. A good place to start is by joining groups that interest you out of the ones your friends are members of. Then you’ll already know at least one person there!

 

Take part in regular events – Most social networks have regular events, like “Man Crush Mondays” or “Throw Back Thursdays”. These are great places to connect with others and share a little bit about yourself, without it being obvious self-promotion.

 

Tools we love:

K is for Kindles, Keurigs, and Keywords

Kindles, Keurigs, and Keywords: The things that make a marketer in publishing go round.

KWhat does marketing at a publishing house look like? For me, it’s pretty much Kindles, Keurigs, and keywords, three things that my day-to-day revolve around. They fuel my workweek, my conversations, and how I campaign.

My livelihood and the livelihood of many authors are sustained by the use of the Kindles and its e-reader counterparts, so you can imagine that I wear through mine pretty quickly. I read galleys on my Kindle trying to find that right hook for our latest books, pull quotes from powerful or touching moments to highlight the storytelling, and basically figure out how to make you read one of our books on them (or any other format really). I also spend a lot of time stalking reviewing titles on Amazon to see what keywords I can pull and how they might affect ranking. A big part of marketing is appreciating the algorithms, the analytics behind how changing a mere word can make or break the success of a product, or it’s awareness. Getting someone to notice a book IRL is as easy as a friend handing it to you with a good word about it, but online, there are so many factors that come into play. Authors have to make sure the words they string together in a book are good; I need to make sure the words we choose to help identify the book are the right ones so that our ideal readers (I call them Jane and Ted) can find it when they search for their next read. Everything from book description to category choices to author Twitter bylines can change how a book is positioned and who finds it. Think about the types of books you read and how you find them, what do you search to find them? Do you click a cover that looks good and then read the description, or maybe search a theme you enjoy reading? This is what I have to consider each and every day, and I do it all with the help of the friendly third K in this party, my Keurig, because coffee might as well be the elixir of life. Unfortunately I don’t have the ability to sit down for ‘a cuppa’ as our British web curator and social media gal Clare would say, but thanks to technology I can still work with my authors on a one-on-one level. These three K’s help me make them as strong an author as possible (and be a civil human being before 10AM thanks to the last one!) so I’d say K is a pretty cool letter. Here’s a few more awesome things that start with K’s in case you aren’t convinced:

 

  • Kool-aid
  • koalas
  • kilts
  • kabobs
  • kayaks
  • kazoos
  • kittens
  • kamakazes
  • Kit-Kats
  • kiolbasi
  • kickball
  • knitted sweaters
  • kangaroos
  • kismet

B is for Branding

BBranding is essentially the boogie man for new authors, there is no magic fairy godmother that flies into your office while you’re writing late at night and whispers the secrets to becoming a brand (though I should look into this). Unfortunately simply having a website and/or every other social network known to man & tween doesn’t mean you have a brand, but I promise it’s really not that complex. I mean Band-aids are literally adhesive strips for wounds and they’ve became a ubiquitous brand name. I’m sincerely hoping that a person about to make a career out of creating fictitious worlds can come up with a story for their brand as an author that’s a little sexier. Pay attention young grasshopper, I’m going to help you out.

 

Step 1: Discern your brand

 

Let’s face it, the chance that you are both a good fiction writer & badass marketer are, as the outlook would say, “outlook not so good”. What you are good at is storytelling, which is basically what all good marketing is. You tell stories? Awesome, tell your own in a well edited, honest but interesting manner. The hardest part is figuring out how to tell your story with the right angle for your book. For example, let’s pretend I was writing a book about a modern, metrosexual Abraham Lincoln aimed at teens. Abe Lincoln is famous for many things, but most teens think Kim Kardashian than good ole’ Abe when they think of hip iconic people (Although Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter sure gave it the college try). I’m probably going to be looking for teen readers who are into pop culture, read fashion magazines, watch reality television. Working the political benefits angle with this particular YA crowd would essentially be useless, however I could pose him as the most fashionable president to hit the white office, comment on his ‘vintage’ suit style, and make his promos about the man who made the beard and top hat iconic. Right now young people love beards, and there are a ton of sites (such as the Art of Manliness) that would probably feature an “Abe Lincoln’s Guide to Accessorizing the Beard” post. That’s not only relevant, but it’s promotion that’s outside of the devout reader population, so your net is much larger. What ‘thing’ is going to make you iconic?

 

Find your target audience, including age group, gender if applicable, interests/hobbies, social networks they use and sites they associate with, and orient your brand in a way that compliments their interests, style, and habits.

 

Step 2: Find your angle

Find what you bring to the target audience, what are you offering them that they like? If you mentally answered, “a good book” get out. That is not an answer. Even if it is a damn good book, it needs to be more than that to hook attention because guess what, there are a LOT of good books out there. As in, several million. One of my authors has written a novel about infertility. She could just say it’s a book about fertility, OR she could pitch it as an infertile woman’s experiences retold in a fiction novel, following from failed pregnancy through marriage struggles to an unforeseen happy ending. That’s way more interesting than a book about infertility, and places like Parent Magazine would likely love to chat about that. Use your personal story, (we don’t need to know everything about you, just the basics) and your personality (are you funny, sarcastic, arrogant, shy?) to fuel your angle.

 

Step 3: Survey the land

You’ll see very quickly that each social network has an etiquette and each generally attracts a different kind of person primarily. Scope out each network and see what the majority of people on it are like. What’s their age? Their job? How and what do they communicate? Find the top 2-3 networks with the most people that fit your target audience and observe for a while. Learn the lingo, the etiquette, the times of day most are active, share, and favorite/like. You need to, to an extent, adopt their manner of communicating a teensy bit. Keep in mind, it might be difficult to find your audience depending on age. MG levels aren’t as active publicly, and you may not want to retweet everything an 11yr old thinks is cool. However, their moms might be on socials, and they could be looking for books they know are appropriate, so don’t go swearing someone out on Twitter if you write for very young readers. That said, if you write for YA/NA, words like ‘douchenugget’ are 100% acceptable.

 

Step 4: Make it snappy

Think about when you go shopping at an entirely new place with unfamiliar stores. You don’t have previous knowledge and credibility to judge which stores you should visit, so what do you do? You look at the storefront. No one goes into the store that barely has items inside and could seriously use a paint job. Newsflash, your online profiles are your storefront. You don’t have the luxury of a physical location except the chance it’s placed in stores and picked out of hundreds of others at said store. How you orient your image online is how you are judged for intrigue and credibility, so make it snappy folks.

  • Have a really solid cover photo for your networks, and keep them consistent (if you change one, change them all)
  • Have the same profile picture across the board, and then on your website, and please for love of baby unicorns everywhere, get it done professionally. Bathroom selfies are NOT okay for a professional author of any kind.
  • Pick a color scheme (it doesn’t necessarily have to match your cover, but complimenting colors is a good idea).
  • Find hashtags that fit the content you are writing. I recommend using iconosquare.com
  • Canva can save lives- it helps you design everything from Pinterest posts to Google Plus covers.
  • If you received an award like “Best Indie Ninja Author of 2056” you should put that in the header of things, it increases credibility.
  • Make sure to have a quote from a review here and there on your website
  • Find other authors that compliment your brand and promotion style and campaign together
  • Make sure there is a link to your site or Amazon page in your socials, and mention the name of your book or series. If you have many, choose the most recent or upcoming
  • Do NOT send auto-messages via Twitter saying, “Buy my BOOK!!” because it irritates 99% of users.

Step 5: Make it findable (yep that’s a word, I checked)

If you have a kickass site or blog, but no one can find it, you’re wasting your time, it’s as simple as that. Google SEO tips and try to help yourself out as much as possible- here are a few general rules and tips to get you started.

  • Keep your name consistent across all social networks
  • Don’t only have images or drop down javascript on your site pages. Web crawlers (basically Google’s search minions) can’t read images, so basically it looks to them like there is no information on your page (bad for ranking).
  • When possible link your socials together. While your Amazon and website should be the priority, don’t hesitate to add you other socials as well.
  • Create an About.Me page, it is another opportunity to get your name and links out there with very little updating necessary on your part.
  • Content is king- posting relevant things and fairly often is going to make a world of difference to traffic, especially if you are talking about trending things.
  • And links are Queen- As in, make sure that any relevant places that mention you link back to your site. Any time you do a review, interview, newsletter, cover reveal etc send them to your site. The only time this isn’t acceptable is if you want to link directly to Amazon.
  • Use tags on every page, picture, and post you make or use
  • Have a keyword strong meta description
  • Submit your new site to Google’s web submission page
  • Have a Linkedin Page. As a professional of any kind, you need a linkedin, and it may help local media find you.
  • Even if you don’t want to blog that much, you should be updating your site with new information (even if it’s just your upcoming events or twitter posts). The see updated, new content as a way of ensuring a site is still relevant.
  • Link out to relevant people as well, they might return the favor and that improves your online ‘reputation’
  • Have your alma mater do a feature or profile page for you if possible, edu links are held in esteem.
  • Add a comments option to your site
  • Try Google +, it’s definitely not the most popular network but links through it can help a lot in the end!

note: Canva has their SEO on like a boss, because less than a day after posting this they emailed thanking me for the mention and asking if I would mind linking to their site, so curious people can easily find it. That is a great way to earn backlinks!

Author Interview: Amy Bearce

Yesterday saw the release of Amy Bearce’s middle-grade fantasy, FAIRY KEEPER. We interviewed Amy to discuss the release of her debut novel, her experiences as a mother and school librarian, and why it’s important to get children reading as early as possible.

You originally had your book as young adult, why did you decide to change it to upper MG and what (in your mind) is the distinction?

There’s sometimes a fine line between upper middle grade and young adult. My editor and I both felt that the voice of the piece was just more MG, but the basic premise seemed more YA…so we merged them until both fit upper MG. While Sierra grows and changes, the focus is on the adventure itself. There was also a sweetness to the story, according to my publisher, that felt younger than what you’d expect with YA. This is especially seen in the romance area. Less heat, more sweet, you might say. J So we changed the age of the character and tweaked a few scenes so that her responses were more consistently appropriate for a 14 year old (granted, 14 year olds in this world have more responsibility than the same age person in ours.) Plus, I wanted something my girls could read and my oldest isn’t quite ready for YA yet.

 

How has being a mother affected the content of your writing?

I try not to think of anything other than the story while I’m drafting, but the place my children have in my heart is such a deep level that I’m sure it affects everything. I tend to write about girls who go after what they want, even if they are nervous or afraid. I like to focus on friendships and family relationships, not just romance (though I love a good romance!) During revision, I do think about how it would affect my girls to read this and know their mother wrote it. I want them to be proud of what I write and be proud of me as their mom.

 

The UK is celebrated World Book Day on March 5. Why is it important to promote reading to children, and how can we as individuals help?

There is one activity that’s been consistently shown to build vocabulary, comprehension, and empathy—and that’s reading self-selected books. The more they read, the better they get, yet kids spend very little time in class actively engaged in reading books that they’ve chosen for themselves. Studies have shown that kids and adults who read literature actually becoming kinder, more understanding people. They also become better communicators. So, I think it’s critical that we support kids (and adults) in reading books.

I used to teach reading in public and private school, and my experience confirmed the importance of allowing students to self-select books. As individuals, you can make a big difference. Give your kids or students a choice. Let them pick a book at the library, even if you think it’s too hard or too easy. You can offer suggestions, of course, but if a kid is dying to read a more challenging book, you’d be surprised at how they will rise to the challenge. And rereading a favorite book? That’s okay, too. Just remind yourself that they are building fluency. Generally, I think we need to relax and trust kids more.

Also—here’s a biggie—if you want your child to read, you need to… READ. Kids model what they see. And if you never pick up a book, they are going to learn from you that reading isn’t valuable, when in fact it gives them a safe place to explore the world in all manner of ways.

You are currently near Ramstein, Germany, in Europe. Do you miss hometown bookstores? Which are your favorites?

I DO miss my bookstores at home. We moved here this summer and I’ve ordered a lot of books online since then! In San Antonio, sadly, the big bookstore on my side of town closed a while back (we miss you Borders!) but there’s still The Twig Book Shop downtown, which supports indie and small press authors as well as the usual big names, and then there’s Barnes and Noble, of course. I met my critique partner at the coffee shop in B&N on many-a-Monday for writing and book chats and I miss that terribly. And the local chapter of SCBWI meets at the Barnes and Noble for events and I wish I were there to celebrate with them! I’m fortunate that there’s such a neat group of writers here in the SCBWI Germany/Austria chapter! I’ve gained several new friends through that group.

 

You also studied to become a children’s or school librarian…was this because you wanted to be a writer? Vice versa?

I think librarianship and writing share several things in common. I love reading and I love books. I also love writing and think that anyone who wants to be a writer needs to read—a lot. I was already writing my own stories when my oldest daughter said, “Mom, you read so much, you should become a librarian.” And I thought, “Oh my gosh, that’s a great idea!” Writing is a wonderful thing, but so is having a steady paycheck. J But there aren’t any librarian positions here at my overseas location, so I’m focused on writing full-time.

 

Are there any important lessons we can expect in Fairy Keeper for young readers?

Hmmmm. I don’t write a story with an eye toward teaching a lesson, but, as with any book I’ve enjoyed, I hope that my book will inspire individuals to think about life or themselves in some new way.   I would hope that readers will consider that if they want to make a difference in the world around them that they first must make peace with themselves and accept who they are, with all their perceived strengths and weaknesses. I hope people can love who they are. And then go after what they want with their whole heart.

 

You have two daughters of your own, did you model your MC after either one of them? Someone to be a role model for your daughters?

I didn’t think of Sierra as a role model at first, honestly. She sort of sprang whole cloth from my subconscious. I think she has some admirable traits, such as her tenacity and loyalty to her sister, but she has a lot to learn about love. She sort of irritates me at times, to be honest. I think the best thing Sierra demonstrates is that it’s a good thing to be able to admit when you were wrong. So I hope in that way, my girls can learn from Sierra. Humbling up is never easy!

Fairy Keeper by Amy Bearce - coverAbout Fairy Keeper

Forget cute fairies in pretty dresses. In the world of Aluvia, most fairies are more like irritable, moody insects.

Almost everyone in the world of Aluvia views the fairy keeper mark as a gift, but not fourteen-year-old Sierra. She hates being a fairy keeper, but the birthmark is right there on the back of her neck. It shows everyone she was born with the natural ability to communicate, attract, and even control the tiny fairies whose nectar is amazingly powerful.

Fairy nectar can heal people, but it is also a key ingredient in synthesizing Flight, an illegal elixir that produces dreaminess, apathy and hallucinations. She’s forced to care for a whole hive of the bee-like beasties by her Flight-dealing, dark alchemist father.

Then one day, Sierra discovers the fairies of her hatch are mysteriously dead. The fairy queen is missing. Her father’s Flight operation is halted, and he plans to make up for the lost income by trading her little sister to be an elixir runner for another dark alchemist, a dangerous thug. Desperate to protect her sister, Sierra convinces her father she can retrieve the lost queen and get his operation up and running.

The problem? Sierra’s queen wasn’t the only queen to disappear. They’re all gone, every single one, and getting them back will be deadly dangerous.
Sierra journeys with her best friend and her worst enemy — assigned by her father to dog her every step — to find the missing queens. Along the way, they learn that more than just her sister’s life is at stake if they fail.

There are secrets in the Skyclad Mountains where the last wild fairies were seen. The magic Sierra finds there has the power to transform their world, but only if she can first embrace her calling as a fairy keeper.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

10176147_1393080960912546_4340356307877669871_nAbout Amy Bearce

Amy Bearce was an Army kid who moved 8 times before she graduated high school.

The one constant in her life was books-particularly fantasy and science fiction-and that hasn’t changed. Despite all the moves, Amy married her high school sweetheart. They met in their junior English class in an American school in Germany in 1991. They have two wonderful daughters and are carefully teaching them to love fantasy and science fiction, too.

A former English and reading elementary and middle school teacher, Amy has recently completed her Masters of Library Science and is excited about a career field with kids, teens, books and technology.

Amy is a homebody with a serious addiction to personality tests, which is not uncommon for an INFP (Myers-Briggs) such as herself. According to the DISC personality test, she is also a perfectionist, a title she hated. She immediately retook the test, changing some answers. When the results came up as Perfectionist again, she took it a third time, changing more answers to get a better result…not even seeing the irony until later.

And yes, the result still came back as “Perfectionist.”

Twitter | Goodreads | Website

Last Minute Gifts for Valentine’s Without a Sweet Tooth

Gifts for the organized reader:

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Purse Organizer by Get Bullish – $8.95

Women love having a space for everything in their purse, and this cute organizer leaves plenty of room to stash a book or two!

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Valentine pencils and cases– $25

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Tower Bookshelf – $50

Gifts for the Zombie-Connoisseur:

Zombie survival kit

Zombie Survival Guide by Voodoo Tactical – $34.99

This is a great little kit with snacks, bandaids, hand tools, and water- perfect for the zombie apocalypse beleiver, or just your average male college student.

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YA zombie novel Dead New World, by Ryan Hill – $14.99

The zombies aren’t mindless anymore!

For the kindle reader:

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Get $5-10 gift cards from Amazon, and write something you like about your Valentine in each, with a couple of book recommendations based on their favorite books/genres. Throw in some some of their favorite chocolates or flowers and you’re set!

A New Kindle

The kindle is on sale for $59 for this week only, and the Fire is $84. You could even write a V-day letter in a document, title it something like ‘Read Now’ and upload it to the device.

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