Terry W. Ervin II on Getting Your Books in Front of Readers

Hi everyone! Today I’m welcoming Terry W. Ervin II to the Five Year Project. Today’s a bit of a long post, but chock full of information, so I’m just going to let him take over from here. 

Getting Books in Front of Readers
With literally millions of novels out there, it’s a challenge to get attention…to get a book in front of potential readers. Sadly for anyone reading this, I don’t have the magic, or silver, bullet. There isn’t one proven method, or combination of actions and activities, that will offer success in this endeavor. Even worse, the market, technology, reader preferences and methods of finding books to read is continually changing.
But don’t despair…and don’t stop reading this post.
There are some things based on my experience that can make a difference—a positive one.
Experience? You might be thinking, who is this guy? He isn’t a NY Times Bestseller. That’s true, my individual novels don’t sell in the hundreds of thousands. They sell in the hundreds and thousands. This guy’s novels aren’t in the top 1000 on Amazon. That’s true, for now. But I’ve had novels that closed in on the 2000s, for a short while before fading. Nevertheless, if Steven King or Hugh Howey say something that contradicts what I recommend, definitely give their words significant weight.


I think number one as far as a book (or books) getting noticed is to write and publish. Get your work out there. The best advertisement for a previous book is a new one.
If you submit a novel to publishers, while you’re waiting for that novel to find a home, write another. If you self-publish, don’t wait to see what happens with your first or most recent novel. Get another one out there for readers to get ahold of. A second novel, in essence, doubles your chances of finding readers. If it’s a series…you need to keep those that have found your works happy and interested. Beyond that, some readers don’t want to ‘invest’ in a single book author.
But just having a book out there isn’t enough. It has to be a good book, sure. But it needs a good cover. People do judge a book by its cover. It has to work both full size and as a thumbnail. If someone sees it as an ‘also bought’ or while browsing in some other fashion, if it (the cover art/title/layout) doesn’t catch a potential reader’s attention in some manner, he or she will move on and never ‘discover’ your work.
That means you have to check out the types of covers a publisher provides, especially in your genre, before you submit to them. (That’s just one bit of criteria to consider, but really determining publishers to submit a manuscript to is a whole separate article). If you self-publish, be professional. Hire someone skilled and experienced, just like you would an editor. It’ll increase the odds of your book finding readers.

Get reviews. What others say will echo louder than what you, the author says, or what your publisher says. Word of mouth is important, and reviews are a form of word of mouth, and will further entice readers considering investing time and money in your book.
Reviews from reviewers, reputable ones online, are difficult to get. Reviewers with a wide readership, and even trusted ones with smaller readerships are inundated with requests. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Reviews at Goodreads, and Amazon and B&N, and wherever your books are available, make a difference. Real reviews. Avid readers who use such reviews as a measure of a book’s quality to gauge whether it’s something they want to read…well, they invest at least enough time to make a few clicks and check out who the reviewer is. They especially take note if a reviewer has one review on Amazon, and it’s for your book. That one is discounted, and may actually count against an author—fair or not.

Ask your avid reader friends to give an honest review, especially if they write reviews on a regular basis. At the end of your book, ask the reader to post a review. If you sell copies at author events, ask a customer to write a review, especially if they enjoyed it. Yes, reviews from folks you don’t know and have never met do show up, but it’s only a small percentage of those that actually read the book. And if the book sells very few copies…that means few reviews, helping to pave the way to obscurity.
As an author, networking with readers can be dicey, especially online. Reader forums, for example, are very wary of authors self-promoting. More than a few bad apples have largely poisoned that well. The same thing with writer forums. And oversaturation of ‘buy my book’ sort of Tweets, well, they are not productive and can prove to be counterproductive. Having a Facebook page where people opt in? That can be a good place for a community of interested readers to interact with an author. But again, it’s not a place to try to ‘sell’. Readers who’ve built an online relationship with an author are more likely to talk about your works to their friends.
Again, someone else saying nice things about your work means more than you saying it yourself. If someone tweets, or posts or reviews…that will carry much more weight.
There are email lists and use of free ebooks and other promotional maneuvers…but that is fodder for another lengthy post, that someone else might want to write?

Finally, get out there. While it might happen that you can sit at home and play hermit and, despite this, your novel catches fire…that is very very much against the odds. Luck isn’t a strategy. Yes, luck can be a factor, but setting yourself up so that you cross paths with a bit of luck…that’s more of an objective to shoot for.
Go to book fairs and festivals, if you have print copies. Present at local libraries, talking about genres or the publishing business, or working with artists…or whatever you feel is one of your strengths to share. Visit forums, with maybe a link to your blog or website—probably not to an Amazon buy page—in the signature file. If folks at the forum(s) find your comments and input interesting, they might on their own try to discover more, and follow that link.
At those events and forums, network with the other authors. Exchange business cards and emails and knowledge. Offer to do interviews or the like on your blog or share on Facebook, or retweet something. Do this without an expectation of reciprocation. But if reciprocation occurs, your work will be out there, in front of eyes and potential readers…and, well, someone else is saying good things about your works, or offering a platform for you to provide some value to the visitors of that platform, be it a blog, a forum, a writer’s group, or a book club.
That’s the sort of thing I’m doing here. I was provided an opportunity by Misha to write an article for the readers of her blog. She suggested the topic, and it was within my realm of experience to provide an article to cover it, or at least that’s my belief.
…And if you’ve made it this far, you read the article. Thank you.
…And I hope you both enjoyed it and found it interesting and potentially useful.
…And I also hope you’ll click to learn a little more about me and my works available…and if they are something not directly of interest to you, share with others who you know it might be.
…And if you don’t? That’s okay too, because the main point of this article is assisting writers in ways to get their books noticed…not to sell my books. The hard sell is for persistent telemarketers and pushy used car salesmen, right?

Bio:



Terry W. Ervin II is an English and science teacher who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction. His First Civilization’s Legacy Series(fantasy) includes Flank Hawk, Blood Sword, and Soul Forge.
The Crax War Chronicles, his science fiction series, includes Relic Tech and Relic Hunted (his most recent release from Gryphonwood Press).

In addition to writing novels, Terry’s short stories have appeared in over a dozen anthologies, magazines and ezines. Genre Shotgun is a collection containing all of his previously published short stories.

To contact Terry or learn more about his writing endeavors, visit his website at www.ervin-author.com and his blog, Up Around the Corner at uparoundthecorner.blogspot.com

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To Newsletter or Not to Newsletter

This is probably going to get quite a few people upset. You know…in the same order of upset as “I don’t think hard selling on Twitter sells books.” 

The thing is just… 
Well. 
I don’t like newsletters. 
At all. 
Not even a little. 
In fact, even if I once upon a time subscribed to them, getting one in my inbox immediately spikes my blood pressure. 
Which is why I’ve now taken to not signing up to them anymore. Sorry to everyone who’s asked, but when it comes to newsletters, I’m definitely not your target audience. 
And yet it seems like everyone swears by them. 
And just when I get sold on the idea, I get one of those danged things in my inbox and there goes all the convincing. 
So here are the reasons why I don’t like the idea of a newsletter: 
1) If I’ve created an online place where someone could just go to check out for updates (which I now do), why must I send a newsletter? 
2) Given that I have blogs and/or writing gigs for: writers, readers, spec fic readers, women, people who like reading about someone taking charge of their lives, AND interior freaking decorating (yes, really), I honestly don’t see what the heck a newsletter would add. More than that, I don’t know what I’d even put in the newsletter. Other than HEY! By the way… I have a new book out. 
3) And if “HEY! I HAVE A BOOK OUT!” is all I have to ever say in a newsletter, that’s pretty much equal to (in my mind at least) hard selling on Twitter. 
4) Given the sheer volume of people now swearing to newsletters, I’m really wondering if my newsletter would even make a dent? 
BUT! 
That said, I know that sometimes, it’s not just about what I like. Marketing is about doing things the market likes. 
Except: Does the market even really like newsletters? 
So please do let me know your thoughts. And your reasoning if you are using newsletters. 

Marketing is Coming…

Before I start today, I have three announcements:

1) I’ve still only received a handful of paying forward prizes and I want to open the nominations next week. Please please please don’t forget to volunteer!

2) Because my life is steadily becoming busier, I won’t be doing the Word Master Challenge this month. Much as I love it, I just can’t do everything at the same time.

3) Entries for my Crazy Goals Bloghop are still welcome. Any crazy/important goals are welcome.

And now, on with today’s blog.

Marketing

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Doorways (announcement about that coming soon) might be published sooner than I thought. It depends on a variety of factors, like when I’ll have my tax stuff officially sorted out and how fast I’ll be doing the final edits, but the release might be before the end of this year. Maybe. *crosses fingers*

Even though it might be later, though, I’m assuming it’ll be sooner, which means I need to put together a marketing plan A.S.A.P.

Obviously, there will be bloghops and reviews, but I’m thinking a bit further ahead.

This book is part one of a series. It’ll be kicking off, a series. As such, I’m going to brand and market the series. Yes, the book will be what draw people in, but I’m not doing multiple images for multiple titles. And because I’m the go big or go home type, I’m seeing graphic artists tomorrow to put together a kick-ass campaign.

Sound premature, maybe, but I want everything as ready as possible so that I can simply slot together everything I need to do a few weeks/months ahead of time. Hopefully, I’ll generate enough buzz to get a nice debut release going. I’m hoping some of you will help.

More than that, I also need to figure out the timing of a few announcements. Like: The series title. And Doorways‘s real name. After all, the last thing I want to do is spam my bloggy friends.

Just hoping that everything goes smoothly from here…

Any advice from the veterans?

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?

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!

Successful Book Marketing – Ninja Style!

Hi all! Today I have the awesome privilege of welcoming the Ninja Captain himself to MFB! I’m pretty sure everyone already knows him, but if you’re new to this blogging thing, his blog is a must visit. So go here for sheer awesomeness. 😀

Thanks again, Alex!

Successful Book Marketing – Ninja Style!

Misha invited me to talk about marketing. I guess after two successful book launches, she thought I knew what I’m doing! I learned a few things as I stumbled my way through the process though – and I’m happy to share them with you:

Write a good story – because no amount of marketing is going to help if it sucks!

Early announcements – let people know about the book and its release date.

Reveals – no, you don’t have to get naked! But when your publisher sends you the cover art, synopsis, or book trailer, reveal them on your site.

Reviews and giveaways – coordinate with your publisher on giveaways, such as on Goodreads. Contact book bloggers and pass on their information.

Release day events – plan something fun for your release day and get others involved.

Twitter – announce your release on Twitter and don’t forget hashtags and Twitter parties.

Blog tour – plan several months in advance, as some people (like me!) book up fast. I’ve found two weeks and one stop a day is best. Contact hosts, set date and topic (guest post, interview, review, and/or giveaway) and send hosts information, links, and images at least a week before the date. Promote the host on your site and visit each stop throughout the day. (Can you tell this is one of my favorites?)

Guest posts – both before and after your blog tour. Build interest and then maintain with more guest posts. That includes hosting others on your site.

Sell yourself – this is the one thing that is often overlooked. Yes, we’re marketing and selling our book, but in reality, we are marketing and selling ourselves. We do this by being a genuine, caring person. We’re supportive and relatable. We’re the positive light that draws others to us.

There are other options as well, such as podcasts, Facebook, forums – the list goes on and on. But no matter how you chose to market your book, don’t skip the last item. (Or the first one!) If you can sell yourself, you’ll sell books, because you’ll have an army of supporters behind you.

And in my case, a Ninja Army!

Alex J. Cavanaugh

http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/

http://twitter.com/AlexJCavanaugh

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of Amazon Best Sellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.


Thanks again, Alex! Anyone else in doing a GPF? Please feel free to contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Have a great weekend, all!

P.S. What’s your favorite way to discover new books to read?

Self publishing – Tips and tricks

Hi all! Today I welcome Rekha to MFB. She’s truly a talented and interesting writer, so if you haven’t met her before, please head over to her blog and say hi. 🙂

 

Self publishing – Tips and tricks

Publishing hasn’t gotten so easy and hard at once. While traditional “biggies” in respective countries and small press have their hands full, more writers are seeking myriad opportunities to publish thanks to the eBook revolution.

Purists in the industry may frown upon self publish (now distinct from vanity publishing which incidentally was how some classic authors got their first book out), but it has produced quality works and authors who have later signed publishing deals. Whatever be the reason, writers travelling this route can avoid the “trash” box – the delete button on Ereaders and negative reviews with a few essentials:

1) Good Story: The classification of good differs but here it refers to stories of any length or genre that uses these elements well – characters, setting, plot with good scenes and crisp dialogues. As a self confessed advocate of self published writers, I have read books where these haven’t been explored properly.

2) Proof Read: Self publish doesn’t give the writer licence to upload works with typos and errors with grammatically and syntactically incorrect sentence structures. Don’t rely on spell checks. Get it beta read by test readers and critiqued by other writers.
Editor: Not all those who self publish can afford a top notch editor, but unless you have the qualifications for the said job, make use of a freelance editor especially in the case of single novels and series.

3) Formatting: Use professional e conversion and format services available. They are reasonably priced and save the trouble if one is not tech savvy. One can also use free formatting tutorials available for Kindle or with Smash words, and good ones provided by helpful techies and writers online. Don’t forget to earn a brownie point with the reader by providing a table of contents directly linking to chapters.

4) Book Cover: With thousands of books vying for customer attention, a book cover is the first step to pique reader interest. If you, friend or family are artists who are apt at photo manipulation and design software, good for you, else hire one. Here again, it doesn’t always cost a bomb, there are many artists on DeviantArt who produce exquisite work at economical rates.

5) Network: The book is being written, edited, and dressed to kill with a cover, now – before you hit the hit the publish button, would be a good time to create a author blog/website to attract prospective readers and meet other writers, send ARC’s to reviewers/review sites open to self published works, and get on book sites like Goodreads or Shelfari.

6) Marketing: The book is available for the world to see; it’s time to use various online options. Some are author interviews and blog tours, professional services like book tours and giveaways organised by book publicity websites, use of social media – twitter and facebook pages to spread the word, a book trailer if you have the inclination, free promotion schemes on seller sites and entering the book into breakout novels contests.

7) Other Stuff: Self publishing on established seller sites comes with the benefits of pre assigned ISBN numbers. But, be ready to juggle roles of an accountant, manager, assistant, publicist, and marketeer.

Tackle all of these and more importantly, get back to completing that book first – a successful self publishing career awaits you.

Thanks again for these useful tips, Rekha! Anyone who wants to book a GPF is welcome to contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com. I have the 28th of September open if you want to post on the theme of Self-Publishing and Marketing, but there are also dates available in the next few months as well.

Have a great weekend all!