Here’s another opportunity to win free ebooks! Visit Aug. 19 – 26 BookFunnel Mystery Giveaway Collect a bundle of 25 mystery ebooks, including Murder by Manicure. Do you like author giveaways? What prize do you like to win the best?
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Amy Atwell from Author E.M.S. gave this workshop at #RWA17. Note that iBooks is in 51 countries and it’s the number two online book retailer in the U.S. Keep in mind that iBooks is the default reading app on all Apple devices. How can you get your book there if you are indie publishing? You could go through a third-party aggregate such as Pronoun, D2D, or Smashwords. Or you can set up your own publisher dashboard with iTunes Connect. Customers buy your book via the iTunes or iBooks app. For uploading books, you need iTunes Producer and a Mac computer. You can hire a formatter who does these uploads or go through one of the aggregates if you don’t own an Apple computer. Once your book is uploaded directly, you can go into your dashboard from any device. If you are doing the upload (or your formatter is doing it for you), you will need an ISBN number for your ebook. If you move a book later from an aggregator to direct upload, you’ll lose rankings and reviews. Disclaimer: These notes are subject to my interpretation. Any errors are mine. Reasons for failure to Upload may be because your epub file isn’t properly validated. Your coding may not match Apple’s requirements. If you’re using epub3 format, it may need versioning info. For Versioning, you add data on what’s new, such as an excerpt or a bonus scene. Readers who have bought your book will be alerted that a new version is available. Other reasons for error messages might be that your image is too big; you’ve added links to other retailers; you have improper use of iBooks branding; you’ve mentioned a sale or discount in the book’s description; or you haven’t filled in the right primary category. You can put a sale start and end date. You can do preorders up to a year in advance. To attract readers, try offering a sneak preview for iBooks fans only. Make use of the free download codes per title. Ask readers if they want to be notified of new releases or sales of your iBooks titles. Send a request for your series to be linked once you have at least 3 consecutive titles available. Useful tools include iTunes Link Maker, the Affiliate program, banners and widgets with links to your affiliate code. Also note that when you do tweets about your books, use #iBooks instead of #iTunes. For more tips on iBooks, see my previous blog on iBooks Tips for Writers. GIVEAWAY Booklover’s Bench Giveaway, Aug. 1 – 18 LAST DAY! Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench
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At the #RWA17 conference, I attended several sessions that told us how to attract more readers. See my post on building Mailing Lists below if you’ve missed that one. Again, these conference notes are subject to my interpretation. So let’s look at some of the suggestions. Respond to readers by replying to their emails, tweets, and Facebook posts. Mention their name in your response. Tag them if you want to catch their attention. You want to turn “cold” leads into customers, then fans, then friends, and finally into ambassadors. Use social media tools to get your message across several platforms. Check out https://meetedgar.com/ for managing social media posts. It allows you to schedule posts across several sites. For limited time posts, you can set expiration dates. Another site is https://www.socialjukebox.com/. This allows you to set automated tweets and also link to Facebook and LinkedIn. I use this one and it’s a great time-saver. Resharing your evergreen content keeps your social profiles active and gives your posts more exposure. Post regularly and vary the content of your posts. Do #ThrowbackThursday (old photos) and #TGIFriday (plans for weekend). Always include hashtags on your tweets and Instagram posts. Involve your readers. Bring them into the creative process. Ask for opinions on cover art or book titles. Ask which secondary character they’d like to see in your next book. Video is popular on social media and so are photos. Try Facebook live video or adding photos to a post. It will have a higher organic reach. Boost your posts. Share to a page or group. Link your Instagram posts to show up on Facebook and Twitter. Establish your brand on Pinterest. Upselling counts in the book market. Offer new mailing list subscribers a freebie then say that for only $X, they can get the next book. Utilize drip mailing campaigns to this purpose. At each step, you’re offering something new. Maximize your social media channels. Facebook ads were discussed along with other ways to get newsletter signups using widgets and links to your opt-in form. Use pinned tweets when you want to advertise a new release or giveaway. Invite interactors to Like your page. Participate in Goodreads and join special interest groups on the different sites. Pricing and Sales. Indie authors can run sales campaigns on more expensive books at other platforms like iBooks. Ninety-nine cents may be better than free in a campaign because you’ll rank in the sales charts, and readers are more likely to read a book they paid for than a freebie. Although, I have to say I’ve found new authors from free books offered on BookBub and at The Fussy Librarian. Then I’ve gone on to buy their entire series. Sales of your backlist titles can carry over to your frontlist (new) titles. Cutting Edge Technologies like apps and Facebook Messenger ads could become more important. Offer a free book or chapters via Messenger as part of a drip campaign. Build your Messenger subscribers, but your newsletter mailing list should still come first. Use Multiple Points of Entry. Offer readers full-length novels, short stories, novellas, spinoffs, mini-series within a series, sample chapters. Diversify your Book Formats with ebooks, print, and audio. Do box sets with your own series. If you do a group promo with other authors, make sure the story you offer relates to your series. Cross-Promote with other Authors using the sites mentioned in my Mailing List post or with your own “lifeboat” team. Newsletter swaps are becoming more popular. You mention each other’s new releases or sales in your respective newsletters. Do what you can, and don’t stress over the guilt that you’re a slacker compared to others who are doing a gazillion more promotional activities than you are. Recognize your limits but strive to learn something new. Set business goals each year along with your writing objectives. Do one new thing at a time. Then it won’t seem so overwhelming. What other techniques would you suggest to gain readers? As readers, how do you find new authors to read? For my conference photos, Go Here. https://www.facebook.com/NancyJCohenAuthor CLICK TO TWEET
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I attended numerous sessions on marketing at #RWA17. So much new material was presented that I scribbled notes, intending to decipher everything later. With thirty-six pages filled in my notebook, I can’t possibly review each workshop attended and have time left for writing. So I’ll summarize the high points of what I learned. It may not be all new information, but I’ll include enough to give you the gist. Mailing Lists Build a mailing list and use it. Why does this matter? You own your list, not Facebook or another social media giant that might cut you out someday. What can you do with it? Ask your fans for reviews on backlist titles. Send them a message explaining why this is important and request a review if they’ve read your book. Do surveys or polls to see what readers want and to ask their opinions on book titles, cover art, etc. Share new release information. This is your forum. Make it count. How do you gain sign-ups? · Put your call to action in the front and back material of your books. · Entice the reader by offering a bonus in return. Give away a free novella, the first in series, a behind the scenes glimpse, or a character profile. · Add your sign-up link to your signature files. Check out https://www.wisestamp.com/ for professional signature templates. · Do Facebook Ads and Amazon Ads with your newsletter link. · Have a Call to Action in your permafree book to entice readers to sign up for your newsletter. Maybe offer them book two as an incentive. · Offer giveaways such as Rafflecopter or Kingsumo (WP Plug-in). When you get a mailing list from a contest, send a few emails to these people in an isolated list first to see how many bounce or unsubscribe. Add the entrants to your general lists after three to five mailings. · Multi-Author Giveaways at Instafreebie or BookFunnel or at contest sites like AuthorsXP and Booksweeps help gain readers along with contest junkies. Try them out and see what works for you. Every workshop on marketing emphasized how important it is to build your mailing list. I could write more on author newsletters, but I’ll do so another time in a post with my own advice. So with this goal in mind, Sign up for my Newsletterfor my latest book news, giveaways, bonus content, and events. Free book sampler for new subscribers. GIVEAWAYS Crime Fiction Giveaway, Aug. 7 – 14 CLICK HEREto win 40 crime fiction novels and a Kindle Fire. My revised Author’s Edition of Highlights to Heaven ebook is included.
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Crime Fiction Giveaway, Aug. 7 – 14 I’ve teamed up with 35+ fantastic crime fiction authors to give away a huge collection of novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner! You can win a copy of my revised Author’s Edition HIGHLIGHTS TO HEAVEN ebook, plus books from authors like Sara Paretsky, Linda Fairstein, and Lisa Gardner. CLICK HEREto enter. Contest runs for one week only, so enter now!
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I had a wonderful time at #RWA17, the Romance Writers of America national conference. The site rotates each year, and this time it relocated to Orlando, Florida at a hotel not far from our condo there. Thus I commuted to the Dolphin Resort on a daily basis. Sessions began at 8:30 every morning, although I got there by 8:00 to cruise the goody room and see who I could run into at the conference lobby. On the left, here I am with Jane Ederlyn and Tina Stitzer. On the right, I’m with Pam Stack. Before I get into summaries of what I learned, I want to mention that in addition to the educational aspects, networking is a prime goal of mine at these events. I was happy to see many of my fellow members from Florida Romance Writers as well as mystery author Joanna Campbell Slan from our Florida MWA chapter. Here are photos of all of us having fun. Below are Tina Stitzer, Elayne Cox, Kristin Wallace, Victoria Pinder, and Jane Ederlyn on the left. On the right is Joanna Campbell Slan, Melanie McCarthy, Zelda Benjamin and me. Publisher booksignings meant giveaways, and I took home a collection of books to last months if not years. I only selected the ones in my favorite genres so as not to be greedy. Indie authors had their own signing event too. Signing below are Zelda Benjamin, Lynnette Hallberg, and Heather Graham. Then there was the massive “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing that raised $44,163.59 on behalf of ProLiteracy Worldwide and the Florida Literacy Coalition. According to ProLiteracy, the amount donated from this Literacy Autographing over the years has helped 40,000 adults learn to read. Reading is what it’s all about, and we authors learned how to reach readers through marketing skills until it felt like steam coming out of my ears with info overload. When I’ll have time to implement any of this information is your guess as well as mine. I especially liked the luncheons, where we could meet new people at our tables, and the mixer with librarians, booksellers, and bloggers. Individual sessions with industry reps were also helpful. In my next few posts, I’ll try to summarize the workshops to the best of my ability. For more photos, Click Here GIVEAWAY Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklovers Bench.
What is a blog? And how do you start one? This past weekend, I gave a talk to a group of aspiring writers on “The Writer’s Life.” During the Q&A session, one person referred to my section on book marketing. “I don’t understand about blogs. Can you explain more about them?” So I thought this would be a good time for a review of the principles. I’ve been blogging for over ten years. I regard it as a live journal that includes glimpses into your life such as travels, hobbies, other fun activities or musings on life in general. Plus, as a writer, you can offer tips on writing craft and marketing and share the creative process. So here are some items to consider. Define Your Purpose. Are you aiming to build an author platform? Do you want to be recognized as an expert in your field? To engage with readers? Or to have other writers look to you for advice? Ask yourself why you want to start a blog. Determine Your Goals. Do you mean to increase book sales? Gain a substantial number of followers? Attract comments on each blog? Receive requests for guest posts? What’s your benchmark of success? Set Parameters. How often do you intend to post? What days of the week are best? What time during the day will more people likely read your post? How long should each post be? Check your analytics as time goes on and make adjustments accordingly. Brainstorm Topics. While you are writing a book, jot down blog topics related to your theme, research, and writing process. These will be useful either to show your story in progress or to provide fodder for blog tours when your new release comes out. Meanwhile, determine how your content can add value to people’s lives. In what way can your personal anecdotes inspire others? Some authors set certain days for specific blog topics. For example, one day they might post recipes. Another day they might bring in a guest blogger. Or perhaps they do author interviews. Excerpts, book reviews, or trivia related to a particular hobby or personal interest might fill in other slots. I like to do conference workshop recaps. Or you can write posts as they come to you. Acquire a Site. When you’re ready to start, register at WordPress.com or Blogger for a free site. Or add a blog to your website. Become familiar with the features and start posting. Link the Blog to Your Social Media Sites. Not only should visitors be able to tweet and share each particular article, but your posts can be linked to your Twitter and Facebook pages. Check your Settings for how to enable these features or ask your Web designer to add the proper Plug-In. What Pages Should Your Blog Site Contain? Keep in mind that visitors to your blog, if separate from your website, might not visit you elsewhere. So consider what Pages you’ll want to have. Here are some suggestions: Welcome or Home Page; About (Bio); Appearances; Book Trailers; Books List (with series books in order); Contact (your email); Giveaways. In the sidebar, you can show your book covers, a Blog Roll with links to other authors’ sites, a Search box, a Subscribe button, Social Networking Icons, and an RSS feed button. Include Photos in your Posts. Photos will draw more hits, but be careful of copyright issues. Upload your own photos. Obtain photos at royalty-free sites or at least make sure you provide attribution. Use Keywords. Use tags with keywords and put keywords in your text to drive traffic to your site. How to Gain Followers
Post often. Some people set themes, like “Recipe Monday” or “Guest Blogger Wednesday” or “Photo Friday.” Be consistent in your approach and keep your material current.
Have a clear and catchy headline for each post.
End your posts with a question to stimulate discussion.
Don’t use your blog solely to promote your books. You’re building a community of readers who want to get to know you, or else you are establishing yourself as an expert by offering useful material. Share new release info, reviews, and contests sparingly.
Comment on other people’s blogs.
Invite guests who have a following.
Always respond to comments and respect other people’s opinions.
On occasion, offer a prize drawing from commenters.
If you get a lot of comments on certain types of posts, steer your blog in that direction. Be responsive to readers. Note what engenders interest and what does not.
Be careful what you put out there. This is a public post. Avoid politics, religion, and any mention of personal business or issues you don’t want to share.
Always be respectful of other industry professionals.
Include links and images in your posts to raise visibility.
Index Your Blog When your blog is a few years old, you might want to reissue an updated article. Keeping records of the topics, categories, and dates will help you retrieve these files. I suggest you write your blog in Word and save the posts by month and year. It’s imperative to keep your own blogs on your computer so you don’t lose them if there’s an online snafu. Then keep a separate file that’s an index so you can quickly search topics. GIVEAWAYS Goodreads Giveaway, July 6 – 20 Enter Here to win a signed ARC of Hair Brained (Bad Hair Day Mystery #14). Hairstylist Marla Vail determines to learn the truth when her best friend is hurt in a suspicious auto accident. Booklovers Bench, July 1 – 18 Enter Here to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench.
Here are notes from some of the workshops I’d attended at Mystery Fest Key West. Any errors are mine due to my misinterpretation. Friday started off with a talk by a representative from the Bomb Squad. The bomb squad in Monroe County gets about thirty calls a year. Lots of them involve old military ordinance like torpedoes and grenades, and about eighty percent are still live. Once a mortar round was dug up in a fellow’s yard and it dated back to 1887. Other finds might include acid bombs, pipe bombs, vehicle bombs, flares, and other old explosives that turn up in people’s backyards. The investigators want to know: What is it? Why is it here? How can we disrupt it? Compressed water will tear the devices apart but won’t set them off. They have to make sure it’s safe while preserving the evidence. When the guys respond, they keep a distance of three hundred feet or more and stay behind a protective barrier. If they have to go in closer to determine if an object is safe they’ll don helmets and flak jackets. Or they’ll send in the Robot. The Robot is used for recon and demolition. It costs approximately $265,000 and can run up to seven miles per hour. It has six cameras, some of them encased, and it can climb stairs as well as go in and out of planes and buses. The Robot can take X-rays and can drag up to 300 pounds. It is remote-controlled at a five mile range. The machine runs on dual motorcycle batteries. Police Myths James O. Born spoke about police myths and how to make our law enforcement officers more realistic in our stories. He distinguished between the uniformed Highway Patrol officers and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that’s more of an investigative agency. He spoke about pay and pensions and how patrol is the main job for a cop. They are taught to shoot in order to stop a suspect, not necessarily to kill. Deadly force would be a last resort. Plainclothes is not the same as undercover which involves deception. I missed some of Lisa Black’s excellent talk on Blood Spatter as I had to prepare for my “Writing the Cozy Mystery” workshop coming next. Then it was time to head over to Hemingway House for an outdoor reception with drinks and appetizers. On Saturday, Randy Rawls moderated a panel on “Where I Get My Ideas” including John H. Cunningham, David Beckwith, Charles Todd, and Paul Sinor. Next came Heather Graham moderating the interesting discussion on “How to Commit a Perfect Murder” with Lisa Black, Rick Ollerman, Robert Coburn, and Siera London. Here’s how: 1. Don’t Get Caught. 2. Is it really a murder if there’s no body? 3. Poisons have worked well throughout history, especially before modern forensics. 4. If there’s trace evidence, you will get caught. There really isn’t a right answer to this question.
Honored Guest Clifford Irving gave the keynote luncheon speech. Here he is with conference chair, Shirrel Rhoades. I skipped the next panel, “It Takes a Crook,” to get ready for Cozy Mysteries and Female Sleuths. I moderated a panel about female sleuths where we touched upon many subjects. One of the main points that came across was that women sleuths are more intuitive and compassionate, and these stories often involve interpersonal relationships or family issues. The evening continued with a special dinner party held at the historical Custom House Museum, which houses displays on the island’s military history. This is always a fun conference in a relaxed atmosphere with fellow authors and fans who are eager to learn about our books. <><><> See all my Florida Keys Photos Here. Click on Photos and then Albums. Enter Here to win a six-book beach reads bundle from Booklover’s Bench authors. Sign up for my Newsletterfor my latest book news, giveaways, bonus content, and events. Free book sampler for new subscribers.
When hairstylist Marla Vail’s best friend is hurt in a car crash, Marla takes over as her baby’s guardian. No sooner does Marla say, “Baby want a bottle?” than she’s embroiled in another murder investigation. Her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, determines the crash may not have been an accident after all. But then, who would want Tally—or Ken in the car with her—out of the way? Ken’s insurance agency was involved in a fraud investigation. Did someone mean to silence him? Or could something in Tally’s life have put her in jeopardy? She’d recently joined a tea ladies circle. Had she discovered secrets among the women that almost got her killed? Or could she be the target of a disgruntled employee from her dress shop? As Marla delves further into her friends’ backgrounds, she realizes she didn’t know them as well as she’d thought. Even so, Tally and Ken have trusted her with their child’s care. Can she protect the baby and find the culprit before someone else becomes roadkill?
“Marla and Dalton make a wonderful sleuthing team. They, as well as the secondary characters, are realistic, well-written and well-developed. Marla is someone readers can connect with. She’d make a great friend. The storyline is fast-paced and keeps readers guessing to the end.” Socrates Book Reviews
“The Bad Hair Day Mystery series books are captivating and exciting. It only took reading one book for me to become a fan.” Cozy Mystery Book Reviews
“The author excels in creating a unique and memorable cast of characters. One of her trademarks is that the mysteries always add to the reader’s knowledge in the field related to the mystery. It’s a joy to follow along with Marla and Dalton as they put the pieces together to solve the crime.” Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore
“Author Nancy J. Cohen once again takes readers on a tantalizing ride of mystery, murder, mayhem, and humor…Cohen’s characters are quirky and well-developed, the type of friends you wish lived down the street. The setting quickly draws you in and the twists and turns hold you spellbound until the end. The author blends the murder mystery with family life and drama for a well-balanced story with touches of romance and humor.” Thoughts in Progress
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Malice Domestic is a conference for cozy mystery writers and fans. This one began with a bang on Friday morning with the always fun but exhausting Malice-Go-Round. I was number four on the wait list in this author lottery, but I got in as no one else waited in the wings. Armed with my series postcards and a two-minute spiel promoting Facials Can Be Fatal, I sat at the first table with my partner, author Jeri Westerson. The two of us would hop from table-to-table twenty times in total. By the time we ended, my voice came out as a croak and my throat was dry despite the water provided. But I’d met my goal of encountering new readers and greeting author friends along the way. This remains a favorite event to introduce my books to potential fans. On Friday afternoon, I skipped out to meet family at Brookside Gardens. We had a lovely stroll and a snack together. I returned in time for the opening ceremonies at Malice. Dinner on your own followed. I’m afraid I bypassed the live auction and later reception in favor of retiring early. Saturday morning, I attended the Sisters in Crime breakfast. At 10 am, I was on a panel titled Just Die Laughing: Humor in Mysteries with authors Donna Andrews, Jessie Chandler, and Nancy G. West. Our moderator was Karen Cantwell who did an excellent job. We laughed along with the audience hearing our stories about research and other experiences. Some humor can be slapstick. Some can be situational. Or some can come from secondary characters or the sleuth’s world view. I enjoyed listening to my fellow panelists. A booksigning followed upstairs in the atrium. Here I am sitting next to Marla Cooper, author of Terror in Taffeta, a Destination Wedding Mystery. After lunch, I sat in on a panel about U.S. Historicals. It was interesting to hear about each author’s sleuth and series setting. Saturday evening was the Agatha Awards Banquet. Congratulations to all the winners! The meal was delicious and my table companions were delightful. I sat with the elegant Carole Nelson Douglas along with Julie McKuras and Patti Ruocco. Sunday morning, I attended the new author’s breakfast. It’s fun to hear the newbies speak and tell about their first published mystery novels. Then I sat in on another panel titled “Death for Dessert: Sweet Murder.” These authors write culinary mysteries. Listening to them speak about their works made me hungry again. I satisfied this urge at the final Agatha Tea and closing ceremonies. Then we were off to see family again before leaving the next day. Into my suitcase went this stack of books I’d acquired at the conference. The best part of any conference is the friends you make. Here are some of the wonderful people I met at Malice. SEE ALL PHOTOS HERE Giveaway! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench <><><> Sign up for my Newsletter for my latest book news, giveaways, sales, and events. Free book sampler for new subscribers.