Too Many Great Posts, Not Enough Time

Do you get so caught up in reading blogs, webinars, and posts and/or listening to podcasts, that you get nothing else done? I have been catching up on reading newsletters from my professional writing organizations, trade journals to which I subscribe, plus blogs on marketing and other business aspects of writing. If only I could clear my Inbox, I tell myself, I’d turn my focus to the nine backlist titles that I still have to reissue.
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And yet the more of these articles that I read, the more that keep popping up in my email. Moreover, reading this advice makes me feel terribly guilty. Why am I not able to do all these things? The articles offer wonderful marketing strategies and tips, and yet I’d need to be either thirty years younger to have the energy or three clones to manage it all.
Meanwhile, I am accomplishing nothing else. Is it because I’ve lost my mojo? Or is it that I can’t move on to new material until I get these backlist titles done? Then again, maybe it’s burnout and time for a break. It used to be that I put my writing goals first in the morning before glancing at email or social media. What happened to this self-discipline?
So I’ve decided to skim these articles, file the information for later, and do only what I can for now. It’s more important to move on to the next project. This means I need to practice BICHOK more often – Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. Get off the couch, and go to work.
This goes for you, too, my fellow writers. Let’s pay less attention to the “should” demons (i.e. the things you should be doing) and more time to the work we can control. Your success is only as good as the next book. It’s not dependent on how many social media posts with cute memes you’ve posted.
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Marketing to Bloggers

At a recent meeting of Florida Romance Writers, we heard Ana Ivies speak about Marketing, Blogs and Reader Events. She runs http://wickedbookevents.com and http://anasattic.com which cater to readers.

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For those who use affiliate links on their blogs, Ana says blog revenues have decreased since Kindle Unlimited got started. KU “has changed the landscape of reading.” Many bloggers won’t promote KU books. Ana sells books from her sites and puts up free and $.99 book specials there too. She advises authors that KU may be better for backlist titles. Bloggers want to promote new releases. Don’t undervalue your book to $.99 unless it’s a novella. When the third or fourth book in a series comes out, put book one on sale.

Advice For Approaching Bloggers

Find bloggers who review books similar to yours.
Research the site before querying to see if a blogger will promote your book.
Review their submission requirements. Ana says Net Galley is a good way to reach bloggers. Make sure you grammar check your query.
Follow the blogger on social media.
Address the blogger by name. Say, “Hi, I’d like to introduce myself…”
Give your name, book title, and a link to your book on Amazon. When asking to sign at an event, provide all of your links.
Support other authors.
Interact; don’t only promote.
Include all of your social media links in your email signature.
Put your Amazon author link on your FB page.
If a blogger gives you a positive review, comment on it and share it. Express your gratitude. “Thank you for taking the time to read and review my book.”
If you do a blog tour, go over and thank the host for being part of your event. A tour-wide giveaway draws readers in but don’t give away the ebook the blogger is promoting.

What Not To Do

Do not post your book or buy links on a blogger’s Facebook page. It’s okay to comment on a blogger’s FB posts and share their links.
Don’t tag a blogger in a promo post.
Don’t have your street team hijack a thread on her site and flood it with comments. One of two of your fans replying to a post is enough.
Don’t have your virtual assistant pose as you.
Don’t compare one blogger to another.
Don’t sign up a blogger for your email list without asking.
Don’t make fun of 1 star reviews.
Deal with drama privately, not online.

“When you write a book, it’s thirty percent writing and seventy percent promotion.”

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation.

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BookBub Explained

BookBub is a popular reader subscriber service where you can promote your book for a fee. They have four million subscribers. Its readers are 84% women, the majority over 40 years old. 37% are retired. 58% are empty-nesters. 59% read four or more books per month. The devices they read on? 49% Kindle, 26% Apple, 15% Nook, 10% Android. Most use tablets, then e-readers, and then cell phones. 29% read non-genre material. 32% read mysteries and thrillers; 25% read romance; 14% read science fiction and fantasy. 95% of readers have purchased a book from an unknown author because of an e-book promotion. 63% have gone on to order more books by an author due to a price promotion.

When a book goes from $.99 to $2.99, there is a 50% drop in sales. But 77% of subscribers will purchase full price books.

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Why feature a book on BookBub? Readers get hooked on your work and they recommend books to their friends. 65% of readers tell their friends about books they discover. What results can you expect? A spike in sales during the promotion. 381% was the average increase. Average downloads are 29,500. 91% of authors have an increase in sales after the promotion when their book goes back to the regular price. There’s an average 73% increase in reviews and 81% increase in sales of related books.

Mysteries have the biggest subscriber list. If your book is free, you’ll pay $320 for a BookBub ad. Under one dollar, you’ll pay $640. If your book is priced from $1-$2, you’ll pay $960.

Go here for pricing in other genres: https://www.bookbub.com/partners/pricing

To submit a book to BookBub, fill out the form online. An editorial team selects the titles. You will get assigned an account representative. If selected, your date and category will be confirmed. Make sure your deal is available across all retailers on the sale date.

Requirements include discounting your book by at least 50% off the list price. It must be a full-length book. This should be a limited time offer of 30 days or less. The editorial team will make sure this is the best deal available for your book and that the work is error-free. They do not feature new releases, because they look at the overall platform and pricing history. No novellas or short stories. Book lengths are specified on their site. The same author may submit a book once every 30 days. The same book may be submitted once every six months.

Next the book goes out for quality assessment. Here the team will look at reader reviews, professional cover design, and cover tropes. For example, dogs do well on covers but motorcycles and tattoos do not. They’ll also look at critical reviews, formatting, and author accolades such as quotes from other authors. This is all part of your platform. BookBub receives over 200 submissions per day. The editors will compare your book to others in the same category that come in at the same time. They advise you to study books in your category on BookBub to see the average number of reviews. Only 15% of submitted books get accepted.

Be sure to put your quotes from other authors on your Amazon author page as they will look for these. Or you can include author quotes in your comment box when applying. They’ll also look at sales data from an author who has applied there again to compare this title to other BookBub books, so you’re not ensured a spot even if you’re a repeater.

Eventually they may make stats available to authors. As for distribution routes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple are currently more popular than Kobo and Google.

Trends in subcategories that do well are also examined. For example, in historical fiction, American history and World War II do well.

Regarding box sets, reviews on individual books are viewed, rather than the box set itself. Books can be older but the box sets can be a new release.

For the selection process, they compare books and pick the best price and platform. Spots for discounted books are more competitive than for free books. Make sure you have your book available at as many retailers as possible, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google Play, Kobo, and Smashwords. This is especially important if you don’t have enough reviews or a bestseller status to tout your platform. Google Play subscriptions are growing.

60% of indie books and 40% of traditionally published books are selected. These have an average of 140 reviews.

Tips for submitting your book

Be flexible with timing. Be available whenever they have an opening. Sell yourself in the comments section with your reviews, author quotes, sale figures, bestseller status. Resubmit at different price points. Be open to different categories. Promote when your book is at its best. Optimize your product page. Add more retailers. Continue to submit and try again. The beginning of the month sees a ton of submissions.

If you get selected, set your prices as far ahead as possible. Notify Amazon about the date for a price match. BookBub will do permafree, but put it on sale first at a retail price to get baseline stats.

A UK edition just launched. You can add them for a 5% fee to your BookBub promotion. Soon you’ll be able to just get UK promotion and they have 100,000 + subscribers.

How to be successful

Determine your goals and choose a pricing strategy based on these goals. Price as low as you can to attract new readers. Time the promotion strategically, i.e., seasonal books. Make sure your book is discounted in time. Optimize the back matter in your books and include links to your other titles and your newsletter. Spread the word. Measure the results.

Follow @bookbubpartners on Twitter

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretation. This is from the BookBub session at the Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach. Also please note that I have not used BookBub myself so some of you can chime in here about your experiences.

Novelists, Inc.

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Pricing and Discoverability

Session Two: Yo! Here I am! Buy Me!
Novelists, Inc. Conference St. Pete Beach Oct. 2014

The general reader mindset changed with the advent of lower-priced, self-published books. One speaker encouraged higher prices than $.99. For that low price, he feels readers aren’t as vested and are more likely to give a lower rating. Also, the reader may not stick around to read a $.99 book as opposed to a higher priced book. Customers like lower prices, but that doesn’t mean they won’t pay more for what they perceive as value. Millions of customers are willing to pay as much as $15 per book. Traditional publishers can price lower and indie pubs can price higher. These two have to come together.

You can use pricing as a discovery tool. Price lower for your backlist titles or for one day as a marketing promotion. BookBub is where readers download free or cheap books to discover new authors. If a reader likes the book, they will buy other books by that author. The audience who subscribes to BookBub trusts them to offer books of a certain quality. Multi-author box sets can also drive discoverability. [Author’s Note: Also check out The Fussy Librarian]

So the $.99 deal is a great way to meet readers and get acquainted. Don’t feel you have to price every book as low as $2.99 or $3.99. You must have a pricing strategy. For example, make the first book permafree and price the others at a higher rate. Making the first book in your series free helps all your sales.

Kobo promotes the first free in series. They say an average of 54% of people who finish reading a book will go on to read more books by that author. Kobo curates the front-page material for their website.

Books in a series will sell better than standalones. But you don’t have to have books in a series per se if you can link them in a smart way. For example, one author had “the first kiss club” for clean, teen romance although each book is a standalone.

Your e-book is a living document, so put links in your new books to your backlist titles. The back matter is very important.

An average of 18 audio books is consumed by Audible subscribers in a year.

One speaker feels that subscription readers (for services such as Kindle Unlimited, Oyster, or Scribd) are a different market than readers who would buy your book.

It’s not easy for librarians to find indie authors on Overdrive. But another speaker said profits from the library market are relatively small compared to the retail market for successful indie authors. The following services were mentioned regarding libraries: Overdrive and BiblioBoard.

Lunch was served next, tempting us with deli sandwiches and an array of desserts. We had time to schmooze with friends before moving on to the afternoon panels.

Here I am with Ann Meier from Florida MWA and there’s Leanne Banks at the dessert table.

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See all of my Photos in the Ninc album on my Facebook Page

Note: Any errors in this article are due to my interpretations. As many ideas flew back and forth during each session, I will mention what I gleaned from the panels, and you can take from it whatever serves your needs.

 

Marketing and Selling Your Books

Marketing and Selling Your Books with Sophia Knightly

At a recent meeting of the Florida Romance Writers, Inc., USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Sophia Knightly shared her promotional strategies. A two-time Maggie award finalist and a P&E Readers’ Poll finalist, she is traditionally published by St. Martin’s Press, Kensington, and Samhain Publishing. Her popular indie published Tropical Heat Series books have consistently been on Amazon bestseller lists and sold over 100,000 copies.

Sophia Knightly

Sophia started off by mentioning 7 book promotion strategies:

1. Image and Promotional Strategies
2. Website and Social Media
3. Conferences and Book Signings
4. Promotion and Advertising
5. Collaborative Initiatives
6. Publishing Sales Infrastructure
7. Measuring and Tracking Performance

Start by defining and creating your brand. Consider your style and marketing image. Personalize your message as much as possible. Toot your horn in your signature line and create a tagline for your brand.

Packaging the image includes your book covers, series branding, bundled box sets, stock photos. Label your work a “short novella” if it is one so readers know what to expect. Sophia recommends Gilded Heart Designs and Kim Killion as designers. For herself, she uses Pikasa for graphic design.

You’ll want to put out a newsletter featuring your author news, events, contests, and appearances.

A street team can be helpful in creating buzz, cheerleading, and reviews. Send ARCs to your team with a deadline for reviews. In return, you can provide swag and online parties. Sophia currently has 33 people in her team. She takes members off after six months if they don’t participate. She’ll show team members her new covers, ask them questions on a message board, and provide swag and a welcome package that may include T-shirts, postcards, bookmarks, trading cards, magnets, and Emery boards. She holds reader contests and gives appreciation gifts of chocolates or a gift basket at special events where she appears in person.

Build your story and themes. For example, if there’s a dog in your story, put a picture of the dog online and feature him in your Facebook posts. Create a holiday message from the dog. Sophia did a Facebook page for her dog character “Romeo”, but you could use any other secondary character as long as you do steady posts.

Attend industry conferences, hold contests, and do signings. Sign up for Autography with iPad and Authorgraph on Kindle.

“The more books you put out there, the more you’ll sell.” Check out the Author Network and Indie Romance Ink which have lots of resources.

Embed your book blurb for the sequel in the back of a book. Use vendor specific links and a newsletter sign-up link in your back material.

Promotion and Advertising Sites

Check out paid ad sites such as Book Bub , E-reader News Today, Kindle Books and Tips, Kindle Book Blast, and Book Gorilla.

Do Facebook sponsored posts for five dollars a day when you want to announce a new release, have an online party, or get people to sign up for your newsletter.

Collaborative Initiatives

Sophia reached the USA Today bestseller list when she combined her two Tropical Heat Series books, Wild for You and Sold on You in a boxed set and reduced the price to $0.99 for a limited time sale.

She made the New York Times bestseller list through a collaborative effort with 6 other authors in the Lucky 7 Bad Boys Boxed Set. Lucky 7 Bad Boys Boxed Set has been on the USA Today bestseller list for three consecutive weeks since publication in early March.

Pricing

Price according to the word count. Run sales often and bundle books in a series. Offer occasional freebies or make things Permafree. Have a loss leader pricing, like the first book in a series for $2.99, while subsequent titles are $3.99. You can drop the price on sale to $.99 for a limited time like 1 to 2 weeks. Sophia will offer a box set for $3.99 and then she’ll put it on sale for $.99.

Be current on models and trends. Go back further on royalty-free sites to find images, or the same image might be used too often by other authors.

Website and Social Media

Facebook will tell you which posts are doing better. Use visual images with Facebook and Pinterest. Put up photos of fun stuff to connect with readers. If a post doesn’t have an image, less people will read it. Like your own post. The more Likes, the more people who will see it.

Use Twitter, HootSuite, Goodreads, Instagram, and do giveaways. Offer short videos. Put a video in your newsletter inviting people to your Facebook party. Interview members of your lifeboat team on video and invite people to enter your group contest.

Have a contest on Facebook giving away e-books, fun stuff that women love, and gift cards. Network by joining book groups on Facebook. Twitter is better in the morning, late afternoon, or after dinner. Have your buy links everywhere. Have a tab on your Facebook author page for your mailing list sign-up.

A lot of readers are on Wattpad. It’s a free site where you can put up the first few chapters of your book including buy links.

“Write more books. Release them often.” She believes you should have a product out every three months. It’s the number one way to sell more books and build a large readership.

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Follow Sophia Online:

Website: http://www.sophiaknightly.net/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Sophia-Knightly/e/B00663POSI/

 

 

Teamwork for Cross-Promotion

Teaming up for Cross Promotion with Nancy J. Cohen, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Erin Mitchell and moderated by Maggie Toussaint

This is my last recap of panels from SleuthFest 2104. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

Cross Promotion

Erin says cross-promotion works best when there’s something in it for everyone. When you have an audience, you have something to bring to the table. Readers are a good resource. Ask them questions and engage them directly. Know where you can find them. The purpose is to build your brand. Write some valued content and distribute it into various venues.

I discussed my lifeboat team, Booklover’s Bench. We’re a team of seven multi-published authors who have a website together where we offer monthly contests, behind-the-scenes glimpses of our working life, excerpts, profiles, and more. We cross-promote by offering prizes for each other’s contests in some cases as well. Measurable results include increased numbers of names for our mailing lists, added Likes to our Facebook author pages, more followers on Twitter, additional Likes on our Amazon author pages, and having our books placed on Goodreads TBR lists.

I’m also a regular blogger on The Kill Zone, a blogging site with 11 mystery/thriller authors where we offer writing instruction, publishing advice, and marketing tips along with our musings on The Writing Life.

Libby cautions that you should be careful and must really like the work of people in your group. Some may be more invested than others. Personalities are important. She belongs to a group of suspense writers, both hybrid and traditionally published authors who’ve moved on to self-publishing. They have done a round robin story together, two anthologies, and a how-to write crime fiction work. They’ve tweeted and shared posts on FB for each other. One advantage of a sizable group is that they can negotiate terms with online book retailers.

Her group invested money to hire a website designer who also maintains their site. They also paid for a cover designer on the anthologies. Their income helps counter expenses. They have rules for dissolution in their LLC’s operating agreement or for dissolving the LLC in the future. This helps members take their commitment seriously.

Libby recommends the following blogs:

The Passive Voice

Digital Book World

Joe Konrath

Kris Writes

The Dames of Dialogue

Indie Chicks

Nancy J. Cohen and Maggie Toussaint

Maggie and Nancy from Booklover’s Bench.

This concludes my SleuthFest report. I hope you have enjoyed these summaries and will consider attending in person next year! Keep watch for details at http://mwaflorida.org/

 

Cracking Discoverability

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We continue with my recap of panels and workshops at SleuthFest. These are my interpretations and notes, and any misstatement is my error. Photos are viewable from my Facebook Page. Like my page, then click on Photos, Albums, and SleuthFest 2014.

“Cracking Discoverability” with Terry Odell, Neil Plakcy, Eileen Robertson, Peggy Hanson, and Sandra Balzo as moderator.

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Find your public and reach out to them. Look for mystery listserves like Dorothy L and 4 Mystery Addicts, and join their discussions to establish a presence. Check out groups on Goodreads and LinkedIn for mystery readers. Look for book blogs. Check out Novel Spot for readers.

Terry said, “The key to social networks is being social.” Don’t push your book. You want people to like your post and then they will look up your books.

Peggy gets a lot of hits posting about her cats so she agrees with Terry. “PR stuff is very hard, but if you present yourself as a person, people may become interested in you as a writer.”

Eileen belongs to a group of women mystery writers, and they tour together for events. “The reader is far more important than the writer.” And even if they get your book at the library, then they’ll want to read the rest of your works.

According to Terry, “The best thing you can do on Facebook is to share.” She mentions Rafflecopter for contests and then discussed how to get your Facebook friends to migrate to your Facebook page. Ask them periodically to Like your page.

Neil discussed what makes a good newsletter. You can pepper in short chunks of research, fun and interesting facts, sneak peeks at your next work, giveaways, contests with prizes including other authors’ books. Get readers onto your blog with recipes, pets, or other interesting tidbits.

Friday Lunch Keynote Speaker Ace Atkins

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Ace discussed his road to publication and how he kept persisting. You get knocked down, you get back up and listen how to improve your work. Get out to meet people, real people related to your work. If you’re not passionate about the material and love it, think about why you’re in this business. Leave out the stuff people skip over and get to the story. Listen to people talk to learn to write dialogue. Don’t watch television to learn.

Examine who you’re targeting when you submit to an editor. What are their tastes and interests?

Don’t ever stop writing. If it’s not working, start something else. Keep going. If an agent or editor aren’t working out, move on. Always keep the book going. You’ll only get better.

Coming Next: Editors Roundtable

 

 

 

Building Reader Loyalty

Barbara Vey was the guest speaker at the February 2014 meeting of Florida Romance Writers.

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As Contributing Editor for Publishers Weekly, Barbara Vey brings readers and writers together with her popular Beyond Her Book blog. An avid reader as well as a blogger, Barbara spoke about how authors can build and retain their readership.

“Think in terms of one reader at a time,” she advised listeners. Here are her pointers for gaining and retaining readers. Any mistakes in paraphrasing or interpretation are mine.

Find a common ground with your readers and form a community. How can you do this? By branding yourself. Be consistent with your brand. Use your author name and brand for everything.

“You are your product. You are a business. Act like it.” Avoid religion, politics, or anything controversial so you don’t alienate people.

“Be prepared when you go out in public. Carry copies of your books, bookmarks, and business cards. Talk to people everywhere, i.e. restaurants, bookstores, airplanes, the supermarket. Ask folks what they like to read, get a discussion going, and then mention you’re an author.”

“Visit and comment when people mention you online in tweets, posts, etc. Show that you have noticed and are paying attention.”

If you get a good review or a reader makes a positive comment on your work, be polite and say “I’m so glad you enjoyed my book. Thank you.” But don’t go near a negative reviewer.

Be seen on Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. Talk about fun and interesting things rather than your books all the time. On Facebook, focus on your Author page and not on your personal page.

For unpublished writers, “the time to start marketing is before you publish your book.”

Re advice others will give you: “Listen to what people say and then pick what applies to you.”

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“Be yourself. Talk like you’re talking to friends. Be friendly, ask questions, reply and retweet.”

Don’t have someone else do your posts and lie about it. If you have an assistant, for example, have them identify that they are posting on your behalf. Don’t let them pretend to be you.

Use hashtags during TV shows, sports events, elections etc. and tag people with the @ symbol.

Don’t use foul language or talk politics/religion, or you’ll always offend someone.

Map out your plan of action for the day and do what needs to get done.

“Follow people who are fun and who say interesting things” to learn what they do.

Comment. Like. Share. If you Like someone’s FB post, you’ll keep seeing their posts in your newsfeed.

Help each other out. Link to websites in blogs when you mention someone. Everyone MUST have a website. Make sure your About page shows something interesting and unique about you.

Post daily, share yourself, and ask readers their opinions.

“Giveaways are huge.”

Promote others. If you promote them, they’ll promote you. Barbara especially loves the romance community because “everyone helps everyone else.”

If you build your community, readers will come and they will stay.

“If you want to be successful, consider this a career.”

Tell people about your writing and let them make the decision about what they read. Don’t make assumptions, like a guy won’t want to read your book. You never know what will appeal to someone.

What do Readers want?

“Series that pull you in so the characters become like your family.”
“Respect for the reader.”
“Consistent writing.”
“Authors must have a warmness, or at the very least, politeness.”

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An avid reader, Barbara consumed a book a day before taking on the glamorous life of a roving reporter. Traveling all over the United States to Barbara Veyconferences from Romance to Thrillers, Mysteries to Horror, Historicals to Comic Con, Barbara has even broken through the barrier into the entertainment industry by covering Red Carpet Events and interviewing the likes of Richard Dean Anderson, Joshua Jackson, Joss Whedon, Chris Evans and others. But her love of Romance keeps her grounded while she offers readers a place to step away from life’s daily trials to take a positive journey through the world of books.

Website: http://barbaravey.com/
Blog: http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/beyondherbook/
Reader Events: http://www.readerevents.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barbaravey
Twitter: @BarbaraVey

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ENTER MY VALENTINE’S DAY CONTEST NOW. Go here to enter and for more contest info: https://nancyjcohen.com/fun-stuff/contest/

If you’re a reader, what do you want from an author?

Business Card Protocol

“Never leave home without it.” American Express uses this advertising slogan but it can well apply to your life as a writer, too. Always carry bookmarks, postcards, or business cards with you. You never know when the opportunity will arise to pass them out.

Today, we met up outside the post office with a former colleague of my husband’s whom he hasn’t seen in years. The men got to chatting. When the friend mentioned how he listened to audio books on his trips north, I whipped out my card. Ah ha, a booklover, I thought! Even though my mysteries are not available in audio formats (and I have asked for my rights back, in case you are wondering, but the publisher is hanging onto them), I figured he might look up my works or pass the card along to his wife.

Then I went shopping for some black leather gloves to take to New York City, when I go there next month for my orientation as President for Florida Chapter of MWA. I gave the saleslady a business card in exchange for my receipt. She was delighted to meet an author. So maybe I scored two readers out of today’s excursions, who knows?

It’s easier to carry a business card than other formats in your purse or pocket, so what should you include? I buy my cards at Vistaprint and use their templates. That makes things simpler. Since I brand myself as a Florida author, the palm tree motif suits my needs just fine.

Side One

You could put your book cover on side one and the information on the other. But I use my first side to introduce who I am as an author.

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Here you’ll find my tag line, social links to Twitter and Facebook, my Website and Blog URLs, plus my email address. In the early days, I listed my PO Box address and phone number. I wouldn’t do this anymore. Few people contact me this way now. However, I do keep a couple of those cards around for conferences or events where I might make contact for a possible speaking engagement. I’ll hand those people the cards with my phone number. Everyone else gets this card, and I carry them everywhere.

Side Two

This is where the book info goes: title, author name, series, ISBNs, formats and buy links. I provide QR codes that take readers either to my Website or my Amazon author page.

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What is a QR code? It’s a box with encoded information that sends customers to a page online where they obtain information or perform an action. The site may be a URL or may show text such as an excerpt from your latest book. Smartphone users must download a free QR reader app to scan the codes. How do you get your own code? Type “QR Code Generator” into your search window. Go to the site and follow directions. Save your code as a picture file to your computer. Make sure you label what it is so you can remember. Then use it on your printed promotional materials.

Since I write in two genres, I’ve put one mystery book cover and one romance book cover on my business cards. My latest title is the one that’s usually featured (Warrior Prince isn’t my latest, but you get the idea). Once you have the template on Vistaprint, it’s easy to substitute new book covers and data.

Besides handing out your business cards at conferences or putting them on your book signing table, what else can you do with these items? Stick them in the bills that you still snail mail to the vendor. Hand one with your restaurant receipt to the waitress. Give one to the post office clerk, people you meet at parties, anyone who mentions they like to read. One thing I do not stoop to doing is approaching strangers who are reading. I don’t care to intrude. Otherwise, blatant self-promotion is the rule. Don’t be afraid to toot your horn.

What do you put on your business cards?

 

Make Your Own Book Trailer

Would you like to create your own book trailer in Windows Live Movie Maker? It’s a way to save money and to maintain control over your project. If so, be prepared to spend time on a learning curve. The first effort is the hardest, but then you’ll know what to do for subsequent titles. Just follow these steps for Windows 7, and you’re on your way. Most likely, if you have a PC, you already have this program on your menu. If not, Go Here and download it for free. (I also use the Windows Live Photo Gallery to store and edit my photos.)

My recent trailer for Hanging By A Hair cost me $58 for the images and music from 123rf.com. The images are perfect for the story, and the music adds tension. Click below if you haven’t seen it yet.

There are some companies that will do trailers for you on the cheap, but their work is similar to mine with a slide show. As the author, I’d rather pick out the photos and music that best suits my story. If you’re a big moneymaker, a bestselling author, or perhaps a thriller writer whose work demands a broader canvas, then you can go for the moving videos, the productions using real actors, or the voiceovers. But if you’re the average writer who wants to give your readers a taste of the story without making a big splash, this will work for you.

Do Your Homework By Watching Book Videos

Go to author sites or YouTube and find trailers for books in the same genre as your work.
Write down the text on each slide and note the type of image accompanying it.
Listen to the music. How does it make you feel? Does it create a certain mood?
Does the story move quickly while giving you an idea of the plot and main characters?
How long is the trailer?
What do the credits say at the end?

Write Your Text

Now write your own text in verses to fit on each slide. Remain brief, offering your story points in as few words as possible. The text should give the reader an idea of what your story is about, the tone of your work, and an introduction to your main characters.

Ask your critique partners for input. You’ll need other critical eyes to help you hone down your plot to a few jaunty sentences. It’s not an easy task.

Remember the adage: Short and Simple. Try to keep your video under 2 minutes.

Search For Images

These are the main three sites that I’ve used:

http://www.123rf.com Medium-sized image is 565 x 847 px and are 2 credits each. You can by 20 credits for $20 or 40 credits for $38. Music is available here too. I bought mine for 30 credits. Make sure you read the fine print on the terms. I bought standard licenses. If you want to use an image as a book cover, you’d need a print only extended license.

http://www.bigstockphoto.com/ Small-sized images are 600 x 900 px and are 1 credit each. You can buy 10 credits for $35 or 25 credits for $49.

Reading the fine print on the terms for this site, you’ll see that you cannot use images as part of an online album or collection. I’ve interpreted this to mean you cannot pin these images to your boards on Pinterest. Since I like to make an image board for each book, I won’t buy my trailer images here unless they have one I can’t find elsewhere.

If you see a photo you like, look at the description under it and go to your preferred image site. Put that same wording into the search box. A similar photo might pop up there. You can also click “similar images to this one” if you want more pictures with the same actor.

http://www.istockphoto.com/ Small is 567 × 847 px. 10 credits cost $19.99; 30 credits costs $49.99, but you may be only getting 6 images at 5 credits each for this price.

Credit package prices are current at the time of this blog post and may change, so check for yourself. Figure out how many credits you’ll need per photo for the above mentioned sizes and what the packages cost. Also check the licensing terms to make sure they meet your needs.

Here are more sites I’ve collected:

http://browse.deviantart.com/resources/stockart/
http://www.canstockphoto.com
http://www.corbisimages.com/
http://www.dreamstime.com/
http://www.epictura.com/
http://www.flickr.com/
http://us.fotolia.com/
http://www.fotosearch.com/
http://www.freestockimages.net/
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
http://www.freefoto.com/index.jsp
http://www.freephotosbank.com
http://www.fontplay.com/freephotos/
http://www.jupiterimages.com/
http://www.gettyimages.com/creativeimages
http://www.gettyimages.com/photolibrary
http://photopin.com/—Images for your blog with proper attribution
http://www.reflexstock.com/
http://www.sxc.hu/

Whichever site you choose, register for an account so that you have a Lightbox, or a Likebox as it’s sometimes called.

In the site’s Search feature, put in keywords for the type of picture you want (i.e. romantic couple, beautiful redhead, man with gun, airplane over island). Scroll down until a photo catches your fancy. Click to add it to your Lightbox (at 123rf, you click the little heart). If you like the model, click where it says Other Images Using This Model or Similar Images. You can search this way for Photos, Video Clips, and Music.

Keep collecting images until you have enough to match each line of text. Then purchase enough credits to buy the ones you want. Click on each image and then on Download. Save it to your computer. I keep mine in a folder labeled Cover Images.

Whichever site you use, check the licensing requirements before you make your purchase. As mentioned above, some may require an extended license to use the image as a book cover, in a collection such as on a Pinterest board, on a coffee mug you offer for sale, and so on.

Tip: All of these sites have periodic sales. After you’ve set up an account, watch your emails for discounts on credit purchases.

Search For Video (Optional)

Live action can add spice to a video but it also takes up time and increases the size of your file. Many of the sites listed above will also have royalty-free video clips, but here are some more.

http://www.alunablue.com/
http://www.alwayshd.com/
http://www.archive.org/details/stock_footage
http://www.artbeats.com
http://www.footagefirm.com/free-footage
http://www.gettyimages.com/Footage
http://www.gotfootage.com/
http://www.stockfootageforfree.com/
http://vimeo.com/groups/freehd
http://worldclips.tv/

Search For Music

Searching for the right music can be a time-consuming task. Decide upon the tone of your video and put keywords into the search feature on these sites. Is your story dark and scary? Light and funny? Upbeat and bouncy? Intense and mysterious? The music is important because it elicits an emotional response in your viewers.

Check the length of the music clip against the length of your trailer, and make sure it’s long enough. You can repeat the music if necessary to extend its length on your video. Likewise, you can clip it to start where you want if it’s too long.

These are the two sites I’ve used:

http://www.123rf.com Music tracks vary in cost. Buy a credit package and use extras for photos.
http://www.stockmusic.net/ $39.95 per track; Pay once, use forever.

Here are more:

http://www.audiomicro.com/
http://freeplaymusic.com/
http://www.freesoundtrackmusic.com/
http://www.gettyimages.com/Music

http://www.ibaudio.com/
http://incompetech.com/music/
http://www.istockphoto.com/audio.php
http://www.opuzz.com/

http://www.stockmusic.com/

Now What?

Open a New Project in Windows Live Movie Maker (File; New Project) and click Add Videos and Photos. Add one photo at a time, and the program will produce slides. If you want a blank slide to add text only, click the Credits button.

Once you have your pictures added, go back to the beginning. Click on Add Caption for each slide and add your text in the text box. You can drag this box to wherever you want it placed. You can also change the color of the text. If it’s a light background, choose a dark text. If you have a black or dark background, make the text white. Alter the font as needed.

You’ll now see Video Tools and Text Tools. These have little boxes where you can see the Duration. I try to have the duration of my text shorter than or equal to the video. So a video slide might run for 5 seconds, and the text for 4.50. Some slides you’ll want longer, if you have more text or if you have an image like the book cover that you want to linger on screen. Under Text Tools, choose Effects. This gives you options for how you want your text to scroll or appear on the slide. Click on Edit if you want to make changes.

Under Video Tools, click on Animations. Here you can add Transitions between slides. Position your cursor in front of each slide. Then hover your mouse over each transition effect to see what it does. Click to select. Keep in mind that the transitions cut some of the time out of the slide before and after. Each time you want to view the effect, put the cursor in front of a slide and click the Play button. Next do the same for Pan and Zoom. Make choices there so your pictures aren’t static.

When you have arranged your pictures and text to your satisfaction, click on Home and Add Music. Browse for your music file and click Open. The program adds it to your slide show. You can adjust the track as needed, like timing it to start further in by changing the Start Point. Also, hit Fade In at the beginning or Fade Out at the end if desired.

Add credits at the end by clicking Credits. This will be a text only slide. Here’s where you put the sites where you found your images and music. You’ll also want a slide to show your book cover. Either add text there or on a separate slide with your book info: Title, author, publisher, etc. The same Text Tools apply to these slides as for the others.

Remember to save your project often. Hit File and then Save Project.

When you are totally done, click File, then Save Movie and choose the Widescreen/HD version to Your Computer. I save them in a folder called My Videos. Your trailer is ready to upload to YouTube and elsewhere. Don’t hit the YouTube button on Live Movie Maker, or it’ll upload a smaller version. Save the version you want and then upload it from YouTube itself. For a site like Linked In, you will need the smallest version available, so you’ll want to save it different ways as needed.

The idea is to offer your readers a bit of insight into your story, to maybe tease new viewers into buying your book. A book video is another tool in your promotional arsenal, but since many readers don’t even watch them, it’s not worth breaking the bank over one. Doing it yourself or hiring a low-cost company is the ideal way to go. Here are some companies who offer inexpensive trailers. Many other sites offer them and so do virtual assistants, graphic artist companies, promotional sites.

Where To Post Your Book Video

Amazon: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/
Book Goodies: http://bookgoodies.com/contact-us/video-trailer/
Book Trailer Central: http://booktrailercentral.co/
Book Trailers: http://booktrailers.ning.com/
Book Trailer Theatre: https://www.facebook.com/BookTrailerTheatre –Promo on Fridays only
Daily Motion: http://www.dailymotion.com/us
Livewriters: http://www.livewriters.com/video.php
Preview the Book: http://www.previewthebook.com/previewupload.php
Shelf Pleasure: http://www.shelfpleasure.com/contribute/
Veoh: http://www.veoh.com/
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/
Watchthebook: http://www.watchthebook.com/

Remember to add your video to all your social networking sites plus your website and blog.

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Watch my Trailers

Mysteries
Hanging By A Hair: http://youtu.be/gv5ldn9uw7I
Shear Murder: http://youtu.be/ePpShWy3Wbw

Romances
Warrior Rogue: http://youtu.be/cjV-PRVGoVs
Warrior Prince: http://youtu.be/aVm2FIumw0o

Follow Me Online

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