Marketing for the Self Published Writer


Hi all! Today I welcome Beth Fred to MFB. When I first met her, she was busy with a challenge to (I believe) read 52 books in a year. Which is a marvelous feat. Now she’s mainly doing reviews of stories she’s read. She’s really sweet and her reviews are REALLY honest, which makes her blog a pleasure to read, so head over and say hi.

Take it away Beth!


 

Marketing for the Self Published Writer


Believe it or not marketing begins with the title. Choosing a good title is your first line of offense. True, if the title is unique enough it will stay in the back of a potential reader’s mind, but there is a more common sense reason than that. In 2010 I went to the bookstore to buy Sea, but there were so many books with Sea in the title I picked up the wrong one by accident. Sea Changed was a good book, but I still haven’t read Sea. So recently, I put my short story originally titled Fate on goodreads and found almost 3000 records for Fate, some bestsellers. Not only am I sure the bestsellers book is going to pop up before mine, it’s 3000 chances for someone to find a different book. (And lots of books called Fate are romances—same genre). I went with Kismet. It didn’t change the meaning, but is more unique.

Almost as important as the title is the cover. We’ve all heard, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but I think in honesty most of us would have to admit we’ve picked up a book based on the cover. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but a professionally designed cover will go a long way towards making your book sellable.

Arrange a blog tour, preferably two months before the book is released. But if your late to the boat (and I was) it’s better late than never. It would be helpful to have hosts in your genre, but it’s okay to have hosts outside of your genre too. My first release is adult, but most of what I write is YA. I am thankful that the YA community has supported me anyhow. If you’re not able to arrange a blog tour on your own, use a company to do it for you.

If you’re planning a series, use book 1 as pre-marketing for book 2. Get your first book as out there as you can and let that build momentum for the rest of the series.

I know this is basic stuff, but I wanted to talk about it because it’s stuff a traditionally published writer wouldn’t have to worry about. And because it is so common sense, I think it gets overlooked a lot.


Tiffany is a hard-working accountant with no time for love. After escaping her sister’s too wild Cancun bachelorette party, she meets a local guy, Luke in the bar. When they’re forced to spend time together, Tiffany lets her guard down, but she still has to return to the US in two days. Will the airport be their final goodbye?

Available at:

Amazon



Thanks so much, Beth!

Before I go, I just want to do a bit of admin. First things first. I’m seriously tired of having my time wasted on word verification, so I decided to start a bit more of an awareness campaign. So if you feel the same as me, please go sign below the open letter. If you insist on using verification, I ask very nicely for you to read it.

And then I want to ask that you spread the word as much as you can in the coming weeks. It’s no help to complain about verification when you don’t do anything about it. Let’s see if we can at least wake a few stubborn bloggers up?

Then I want to invite guest bloggers to contact me for the last few GPFs left. There’s one more in October (theme: Scares) on the 19th. Then I have all the Fridays in November (theme: Keeping Track). For for more information, please read here. It’s really a great experience to get other points of view on my blog, so please let’s see if we can get the last six spots filled?

Thanks for your support! Have a wonderful weekend.

Before you go, I just want to ask. Who’s looking to self-publish? Do you have a marketing strategy yet or still working on it? Any self-publishing veterans with more tips for the uninitiated?

Open Letter to Bloggers with Word Verification

If you agree, please insert your name and link to your blog on the linky list below. Then I want to ask that you please refer as many bloggers to this as possible, because I really want this blight on the blogging experience to stop. Let’s try to wake people up?

 
*  *  *


Dear Word Verification User,

I love blogging. Really I do. It’s just wonderful to read people’s inner thoughts and respond to them, potentially starting a great relationship with them.

But here’s the vital word.

Respond.

There’s also another vital word I am yet to mention, but it’s probably even more important to me.

Time.

See I (like most of my blogging friends) have full-time jobs. Some are full-time parents. Others are artists. Some work for their own or other business etc. Jobs take time. And what’s left goes to writing, spending time with those we care about and doing things important to us.

One of those things is blogging. And by that I mean posting our own blogs AND commenting on others’ posts.

We do NOT have copious amounts of time in which to do this. Think about it. I’m pretty sure you don’t either.

So imagine our incredible annoyance and frustration when we take time to comment on your blog. While we could zip through your writing and disappear without a trace, we think about what you wrote. We consider our own opinion to this. Then we write something meaningful that could have inspired you. It could have uplifted you. It could have given a point of view you were yet to consider. It could have introduced you to someone new and exciting.

But it doesn’t.

It doesn’t even get posted.

All thanks to this little tool you have activated on your blog. Word verifications, no matter what they say they do, serve absolutely no purpose if you already have a spam filter (which comes standard with most blog platforms). But they’re incredibly difficult to comply to, even when one isn’t sight impaired. More importantly, it’s impossible to do fast.

Did you know that if you fail the word verification more times than allowed, the comment just disappears? Do you honestly think someone with a limited amount of time and many blogs to visit will take the time to rewrite the comment? What about when you own the hundredth blog on a blogfest list to disregard the organizer’s request to remove verification?

If you say yes, stop reading here, because I don’t think I can appeal to your reason.

Looking at this from another point. You want lots of readers, yes? Does it make sense to aggravate every new reader wanting to comment on your blog?

Word verification kills blogging. We bloggers need to respond to comments, because that’s what it’s about. If, however, it’s too difficult to do, we’d probably move on to other social networks to get our interaction fix. If everyone does that, no one will be interested in reading the posts.

Let’s prevent this from happening before it’s too late. It matters to me whether blogging will survive, because while other networks give me interaction, I find it lacks a certain depth that can only be found in a blog.

Does it matter to you?

If it does, here’s what you can do.

New bloggers: Most blogging platforms come with word verifications turned on by default. You will not know until you check on your settings. Please do that. And if they’re on. Turn. Them. Off.

Those fearing the spam apocalypse: Please just turn the verification off for a week. Rather turn on comment approval. It’s much easier for a blog reader to stomach the fact that you’re going through a comment to check if it’s spam. At least you’ll get a chance to receive the comment. Or live on the edge. Turn both off. I did. In all this time, less than 10 comments made it through the filter.

But please. Just do something. It really ruins the experience for all of us.

Thanks in advance.

Signed,






http://www.simply-linked.com/listwidget.aspx?l=2b9aa642-5101-459d-96dd-60ad54b92fe7

How my break from writing is going.

When I finished Doorways, I decided I’d take a writing break to recover. I mean, I’ve been working on the story for six years.

Two months, I promised myself. Two months of sleeping in and complete hedonism. Watching t.v. Painting. Singing. Playing guitar…. Aahh… it made me happy just to think about.

And then last week happened.

On Wednesday, I dreamed a dream. Most of it was nonsense. But there was this guy. And what he was doing completely hooked my mind. So it started spinning, but that’s okay. I’d give it six months to incubate, the same as I did with Doorways. Back then, I gave up on plotting, but I didn’t just jump in and write. I waited. I got to know the characters. I learnt what made them tick and what made them explode. Then I learnt enough about their world to explore it without getting completely lost. And I’m pretty sure it’s reason number 1 why I finished it all the way through edits.

By the time I started drafting, I knew enough to find the story. And by the rewrite, I knew exactly what was going on. Which is notable, because I have multiple storylines. I even know what’s going on outside the scene. Even though most of it isn’t writted down.

But here’s a bit of a problem. The Doorways world is alive in my head. It takes up a lot of space, so it’s hard for me to get to any of my other story ideas. Because I want to keep Doorways to the fore (it’ll be too hard to remember everything later if/when I have to write the sequels), I needed to figure out a way to pull out the thoughts without pushing Doorways too much.

So I decided to let my mind hang back on this dream and start figuring things out on it’s own. After all. I have about 6 weeks left of my break.
Except I read this post. Although it didn’t really say anything I didn’t learn the hard way, it was the missing piece that helped me figure out how to finish my WiP3 or as you might know it, Don’t Look Back. 3 has already gotten more than enough thought. In fact its first draft is about as finished as I’ll get it.

So… What I have to do is to pull out the plot parts I liked and rewrite it into an even better story. TO do that, I need to plan. But it took more than Doorways, because I wrote it a lot faster and didn’t get as much time to mull on it.

So I found a way to do this. (Will post about it tomorrow). I now have a very excellent idea as to what will happen in that story. And in the dream story, because I decided to check it out while I was on a roll.

Now it’s just a matter of time to see how long it will take my muse to yank me away from my other activities.

Do you get a LOT of inspiration the moment you stop looking for it?

I’ve been tagged.

I’ve been tagged by the lovely Lauren M. Barrett, who I met during WriteOnCon and who’s also participating in GUTGAA.
 
So although I’m no longer actively participating, I thought I’d answer the questions for my MANY new bloggie friends. Thanks for following, by the way! X

Also, because this tag has been going around, I’m just going to open it up to whoever wants to answer one or two questions in the comments section.

What is the working title of your book?
 
I’m assuming this refers to the book I entered into GUTGAA. It’s called Doorways.
 
It’s actually quite a punny title, but you’d have to read the book to know why…
 
Where did the idea come from for the book?
 
Well… I was reading Chronicles of Narnia and Darrion (one of the main characters) appeared and refused to leave unless I paid attention. Actually he lied. He never left after 6 years.

What genre does your book fall under?
 
YA/NA Epic Fantasy. I name both because the story seems to lie comfortably on the cusp.
 
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
 
Can’t really tell you. My characters walked in pretty much fully formed, so they look like themselves and no one else. Would be a bitch to cast them.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
 
When sixteen-year-old Callan Blair ends up in a fantasy world and meets her last remaining relative, she has to choose between loyalty to her family and staying true to herself.
 
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
…. That still depends.
 
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
 
Four and a half years. I was at University for most of it. Rewrites took a year and edits and revisions another.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Mmm… interesting and complex characters. One hell of a plot. 😉

Okay your turn… Pick a few questions and answer in the comments section. Pretty please?
 
 
 

What’s The Next Big Thing in Genre Fiction?

Hi all! Welcome to another installment of GPF! Today the spotlight is on Shah Wharton, who’s going to share some info on New Adult.

Thanks Shah!

Firstly, many thanks to Misha for letting me stop by and have a chat with her readers. I’m honoured to be here, and I hope you enjoy my post. 

What’s The Next Big Thing

in Genre Fiction?

This is thrilling news for me (although nothing new to more savvy bloggers than I), as my beta readers recently suggested that my novel, Finding Esta – Book #1 in the Supes Series, is in fact, New Adult. I never really thought about it’s genre or the desired age of it’s readers when I first sat down to write a short story a couple of years ago, but as it developed into the monster it became, and as it is soon to be published, these things have become much more important to me.
So, I clicked on Google and asked, “What is New Adult and what’s all the fuss about?” Here’s the result…

1) What is New Adult?

‘New Adult’ fiction is aimed at post-adolescents and young adult readers aged between14 to 35 years.
I found this age range… difficult to relate to. The average 14 year old would surely find most ‘adult’ fiction irrelevant, and wouldn’t the average 35 year old find the adolescent ramblings of a 14 year old, well… boring? Perhaps.
But then again…
I considered my own reading habits. Like me, many readers overlap so much that the age category is often just a hint at it’s content rather than a strict border control – a cloudy grey rather than black or white. Nowadays, young adults still enjoy their category, but adult fiction along with it, and adults enjoy young adult reads alongside much more adult books. I am very much an adult (although whether I always act like one, could be cause for argument), yet I loved YA – Twilight, YA – The Vampire Diaries, as well as A – True Blood, A- Generation, and even A –Fifty Shades of Grey Series *blush*.
*I’m sticking to the genre I mostly read here, but I’m sure you could find examples of your own.

 

2) Is my book New Adult?

New Adult was first proposed by St. Martin’s Press in 2009 who wanted to address the coming-of-age era during a young person’s twenties, including stories about young adults who, although legally adults, still struggled to figure out what being an adult actually involved.
In Finding Esta, Luna is a young 23 year old who lives in her first home, works at her first job, post University, and is yet to experience her first physical relationship. She is also subjugated by abusive parents, and by paranormal, psychic issues (plus a supernatural world she soon discovers) and as a result, has a rather young voice for her age.
So, does all this mean it’s a New Adult book? I’m inclined to think so…

3) Is there any value in categorising my book as New Adult?

Well, major New York publishers are taking self-published authors of New Adult titles for mass-market sales.
Some examples:
▪ Tammara Webber for Easy
▪ Jamie McGuire for Beautiful Disaster
▪ Colleen Hoover for Slammed and Point of Retreat
This is great news and a good indicator of success and relevance… Of course, I don’t expect this kind of success (although hey, I wouldn’t mind it either), just that my genre (if it is indeed New Adult) must be of interest to a mass-market audience if major publishers are pushing it out there so fervently.
Win-win!
So, I’ve learned quite a bit. There’s been a readership group largely ignored by fiction writers – The ‘coming-of-age’ group, now the New Adult group, which explores a specific time and set of experiences, which although popular, other books seem to have ignored. Or simply didn’t concentrate on. Or perhaps many New Adult books are incorrectly listed as either YA or Adult books by category-loving Traditional Publishers? Hell, until a few years ago, no one would have known otherwise, right? And traditional authors would have been made to write to ‘fit’ established categories.
Fortunately, unlike traditional publishers, self-publishers were able to explore this specific time/these set of circumstances without such restrictions; they could write ‘outside the box’ of traditional publishing guidelines. The result is New Adult fiction and of course, its recent success means Traditional Publishers now want to harness New Adult’s popularity for themselves, and I seem to have inadvertently joined this group. Hurrah!
Interested in finding out more about this genre? Interested in reading New Adult books and don’t know where to find them? Well, I found this fabulous blog called New Adult Alley, which includes promotion of New Adult titles, community discussion and oodles of New Adult resources and information.

Author Mini Bio:

Shah writes urban fantasy novels and horror short fiction, punctuated by the occasional poem. She loves psychology, horror movies and a hefty drop of Merlot. Shah would love to hear from you at her blog: Shah Wharton’s WordsinSync.
* Finding Esta – Book #1 in the Supes Series is expected to be published Autumn/Winter 2012.
Discussion: So, what do you think of this new(ish) genre? Is it necessary? Are you a New Adult author/reader? Would you be more likely to read a book from the YA or NA section?
Thanks so much for this insightful post, Shah. Anyone else want to do a post? I still have spaces open in October and November. To find out more, please mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.
Have a great weekend, all!

Interview with Susan Rocan

Hey all! Welcome to another fortnightly interview. Today I welcome Susan Rocan to my blog.
 
Hey Susan, thanks so much for hanging out with me on MFB. Why don’t you tell everyone a bit about yourself?

 I’m Canadian, specifically from Manitoba, which seems to be the heart of the Young Adult market, these days. This works very well for me, because that’s what I am most known for – my YA fiction – and where my publisher is situated. Great Plains Publications has produced both of my YA novels, ‘Withershins’ and ‘Spirit Quest’, which are time travel tales set in Manitoba during the mid-1800s.
 
Withershins sounds like a fascinating idea. Where did it come from?
 
It began when my writers group and I were brainstorming short story ideas for a new anthology we wanted to produce. It was supposed to come out around Hallowe’en, so we were discussing scary stories. I suddenly remembered a time when I was 18. I was with three friends at the oldest church in western Canada late one Friday evening when one of them suggested we try the withershins, although at the time we didn’t even know it had a name! I was too chicken to finish the third circle around the church, but speculated what might happen if my character did it. The result was two novels where it started simply as a short story.
 
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
 
The answer is simply, ‘no’. I never seriously considered it growing up, although I always enjoyed creative writing in school and I did write in a diary as a teenager – you know, the usual angst stuff. I did always want to work with kids and ended up with two Bachelor degrees, one majoring in Speech Pathology and Audiology, the other in Elementary Education. Both career paths involve words and language, so I suppose it was inevitable that I would become a wordsmith!
 
What got you to start writing?
 
Well, I started writing when my youngest child began going to school – about 18 years ago. That was about the time when my husband and I got interested in an old British SciFi show called ‘Blake’s 7’. The series ended with all the heroes being killed, apparently, in an ambush by their arch enemy. That bothered me more than you’d expect. I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to save the heroes and finally came up with a satisfying conclusion. I wrote it all out then decided there was no point to it, but I really liked the characters that I had created to help the ‘Blake’s 7′ crew and decided to write a story that revolved around them. When it was done, I joined the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. In one of their newsletters was a call for ‘fan fiction’. I had never heard of it, so I called up the woman looking for stories for her ‘fanzine’ and submitted my original ‘Blake’s 7’ story. She liked it and it was published in her fanzine. Her husband ran a writers group and, since he really like my story & writing style, asked if I’d like to join. By that time I had a couple of novels written, so wanted their feedback. I said, ‘yes!’
 
Their critiques were rather brutal, but I learned a lot from them. By the time my ideas for ‘Withershins’ came along, my writing had improved considerably. They loved it and helped me improve on the initial premise. One of the members practiced wicca and gave me some insight into magical ways. Their group disbanded before I finished writing it, but I was fortunate to have another group who helped me polish it all up and helped me through the synopsis stage and inquiry letter. I have both groups to thank for the hours they spent helping me perfect my stories.
 
Brutal crits can be best, as long as they’re not intended to be mean. What was the best lesson that you learnt from being critiqued?
 
That no matter how good you think your manuscript is there’s always room for improvement. My hubby read my very first story and questioned certain scenes. I got very defensive, trying to argue why I wrote it a certain way. Once I thought about what he’d said, I realized he had legitimate concerns. If he questioned parts of the story, other readers would probably feel the same – and I couldn’t defend their criticisms! After that first critique experience, my hubby hesitated to read my future work. He and my first writer’s group helped me realize the importance of taking criticism in the spirit to which it was given – to help make the manuscript the best it can be. I respected their opinions because they had been writing a lot longer than I had, at that point. It’s never easy to have your ‘baby’ criticized, but if you want your readers to read more of your work, some changes will inevitably need to be made.
 
So true. How do you deal with cutting your baby? (Editing out scenes?)
 
It’s a matter of deciding what is not going to progress the plot. It may be a wonderful scene about picking daisies in a field, but what does it have to do with the plot or character development? If it’s just a scene for the sake of a scene, no matter how eloquently you described it, cut it out!
 
I don’t trash all the scenes I delete, though. They are all on a file somewhere on my computer in case I need something similar for character development, like if the character is stressed and needs to chill, I would adjust the daisy scene to show that she is trying to unwind, or is learning how to de-stress. I know that’s a silly example, but I hope you get my drift.

With ‘Withershins’ I have about four different versions, especially the beginnings. At first, I wanted to dump a lot about my lead character’s background at the beginning, scenes like being in history class and how it was so boring, which would have bored the reader, so I completely cut out the first chapter, jumping into the scene where they were actually on their way to the church.

I handle my edits like that too. I save every draft and every round. Do you plan your plot ahead or do you pants your way through a draft?

For my published work it was mostly by the seat of my pants. I was so focussed that every morning, I had pretty much the whole next chapter in my head. There were scenes that I would have to divert my attention to research, but for the most part, It was a day-by-day process with no real plan in mind except the ending.

I also keep the ending in my head. How much time do you spend on writing?

When I wasn’t working, I spent several hours every morning once the kids went to school, until they came home for lunch. Sometimes, if I was on a roll, I would continue once they headed back to school. Nowadays, my writing times have been more sporadic, catching an hour or two whenever I can.

What’s your favorite part about writing?

When I’m so immersed in the story that the characters practically write themselves.

Aah I love that too. Last but not least, where can people find you on the internet?

My blog can be found hereMy books are available through Amazon, at Chapters (at least, in Canada) and McNally Robinson Booksellers. My twitter handle is @SusanRocan. I do have a ‘Withershins’ Facebook page, too, which can be found here.



Thanks again for the great interview!

To the readers I ask: What got you writing?

Query odds: Flip a Coin

Sorry for not posting yesterday.

I sadly just needed a bit of a break from the writing world and by the time I was okay to post, I had to leave my house.

What got to me?

Queries. More specifically, query crits.

You see, when I let some of my work be critiqued, I learnt so much. I adore that process. Probably will until my dying day.

So I sort of assumed queries would be the same.

Except it isn’t.

Not even remotely. Because NO ONE knows how to write a good query letter. Shit. I doubt one agent can write a query letter that’s so good that it could entice all other agents in their genre.

Why do I say this? One word. Consensus.

I wrote a query. And I sent it to Matt from the QQQE. Let me say, that was an incredibly helpful experience. But after that, things pretty much went down-hill.

I took the focused query (as per Matt’s advice) and posted it for WriteOnCon. Where about 30 people including an agent told me to explain more. So I ended up with a 350 word pitch.

Too long, people said for GUTGAA. Focus it more. What’s this? Why this? *scratching head* So I need to focus the query AND detail it at the same time?!

Yeah. That’s a problem. Because I’m a firm believer in “If half says one thing and the other nothing, don’t change anything”. But I broke that rule, because heck, someone  ought to know what’s going on, right?

With that in mind, I rewrote the entire thing keeping everything I learnt in mind. And guess what? It’s being apart for having too much information because it doesn’t have enough information.







Am I the only one thinking that this sounds a *tiny* bit warped?

So… I took time away from my dear computer and then came to a lovely realization. If my current experience is to be believed, I can write absolutely anything about my book. If it’s not stupid, completely incoherent or anything else along those lines, I have 50% chance of pleasing someone. No matter how focused or detailed the query.

Don’t get me wrong. I feel I learnt a lot from the crits. But there’s no consistency. No way of measuring the validity of the comment. And that frustrates the crap out of me. Because how am I supposed to fix something when I’m not 100% sure it’s wrong in the first place?

But yeah. Trying to use my annoyance positively, I rewrote the entire query yet again. And you know what? I think I’m just not making it public again unless I get a 110 agent rejections. Because I came to the point in my learning experience where anything else will just confuse me more and I just need to trust my gut.

And right now it’s saying the newest query is the one.

What about you? Have you ever been frustrated by the sheer variety of critique you received on a query/short/synopsis/whatever? How do you deal with it? When do you start going with your gut?