Writing Goals for 2019

Setting goals is critical if you want to get things done. For a writer, making a list of what you want to accomplish each year will put you on the right path. In an earlier blog post, I reviewed my goals for 2018. We discussed what got done and what didn’t. Authors can break down their goals into creative and business oriented tasks.
goals2
So now let’s take a look at 2019. This might seem less ambitious than last year, but revising and reissuing my backlist titles is my main goal. That project could take the entire year, because I go through each book to tighten the writing and then do a full read-through once for any further changes and again to check for conversion errors after formatting. It takes time, because I want each book to be the best possible version. So I am not going to set myself too many tasks beyond this one.
CREATIVE GOALS
Reissue remaining backlist titles (6 romances + 4 mysteries)
Write and publish Easter Hair Hunt, #16 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries
Write and publish a Bad Hair Day recipe book
BUSINESS GOALS
Enter latest releases in writing contests
Carry on with newsletter, blogs and social media
Update website in terms of hosting and other behind-the-scenes decisions
Bundle books into box sets
Consider wider distribution for audiobooks
LEARNING GOALS
Learn how to use various book production tools as new opportunities arise
Learn how to plan and promote book sales after all my backlist titles are under my control
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Five years ago, I wrote a list of long-term, five-year goals. I am pleased to say that I am on target with most of these items. Once this year’s goals are met, it will be time for a career reassessment. Only by resetting our overall goals periodically can we gain clarity on the best path to take next.
What is the main item you want to get done this year?
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Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition

I’m excited to announce the release of Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition.
CSB2
Do you want to write a cozy mystery but don’t have a clue where to start? Or are you in the middle of a story and stuck on the plot? Perhaps you’re already writing a series, and you need tips on keeping your material fresh. Writing the Cozy Mystery will help you develop your characters, establish the setting, plot the story, add suspense, plant clues and solve the crime.
This Second Edition contains more examples; additional writing exercises; expanded sections; and seven new chapters including The Muddle in the Middle, Romance and Murder, Special Considerations for Cozy Writers, Keeping a Series Fresh, Writing the Smart Synopsis, Mystery Movies, and Marketing Tips. You’ll find everything you need to know in an easy-to-read, clear manner to write your own mystery and maintain a long-running series. Recommended for cozy writers, mystery fans, and creative writing classes. Just in time for your holiday gift bags!
“Too many writer’s guides focus on style and how to write; but Nancy J. Cohen’s Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition doesn’t limit itself to literary mechanics alone. This makes it a highly recommended pick for all levels of writers; from those who enjoy mysteries and need a clearer definition of ‘cozy’ and its applications; to writers already well aware of the genre, but who need tips on how to sustain suspense or sprinkle believable clues throughout a cozy production.” D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
If you are thinking about writing a cozy mystery, read this book first! Nancy lays out all the necessary steps in an interesting and informative way that is easy to follow. This book was an invaluable tool when I wrote my first cozy. Highly recommended.” Catherine Bruns, USA Today Bestselling Author
“Nancy J. Cohen offers clear examples, practical writing exercises, and friendly advice designed to help the beginning cozy author start—and finish!—a saleable book. Even seasoned cozy writers can find helpful hints for building better characters and story.” Diane A.S. Stuckart, aka Ali Brandon, NY Times Bestselling Author of the Tarot Cats Mysteries
“If you want to write a cozy mystery—or really, any kind of mystery—this is the book for you! Everything you need to know in one handy volume.” Victoria Thompson, Bestselling Author of the Gaslight Mystery Series
Digital Edition: ISBN 978-0-9985317-2-4, $3.99, Orange Grove Press
Print Edition: ISBN 978-0-9985317-3-1, $9.99, Orange Grove Press
Cover Design and Graphic Illustrations by
Boulevard Photografica
Print Pages: 130 pages. Word Count: 28,000 words
Nonfiction – Reference – Writing Guide

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Booksellers and Librarians: This title is available at Ingram.
Note: Amazon will not link the 190+ reviews from the first edition, so I need ALL NEW REVIEWS on the book’s Amazon page. Please take a few minutes to say how this book helped you if you find it a useful read.
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After Your Book Launch

What should you be doing in the days following your new book release? Promotion doesn’t end when your book launch is over. You’ve tossed the ball into the court. Now you need to keep it rolling. Let’s say you have sent advance reading copies to reviewers and are participating in a blog tour or doing guest posts along the way.
Book Launch
What else can you do? Here are some suggestions:

  • Start a file for Amazon reviews and copy down each review as it’s posted, along with the date and reviewer. Do the same for Goodreads. Repeat for bloggers and other review sites. If you start getting tons of reviews, skip this step and go to item two.
  • Check these names against your personal reviewer list and mark each one as done. Then you’ll know which reviewers followed through so you can approach them with your next release.
  • Send a thank you email to the reviewers on your personal list who have posted.
  • Send a reminder to the reviewers who have not yet posted.
  • You should have already written a page of tweets and posts for your new book. For each reviewer, note their Twitter and Facebook handles. Now pull relevant quotes from these reviews and add them to your Tweet page. Remember to tag the reviewer.
  • Also write a tweet or post for each stop on your blog tour. Tag your hosts and add a link to their site.
  • Set your Twitter posts to rotate automatically at a site like SocialJukebox.com or schedule them ahead of time at Hootsuite. Space out your Facebook posts between your own pages and your groups.
  • Add quotes from reviews to your website.
  • Check your Amazon book’s page. If you don’t see reviews posted by your reviewers, you can add them as quotes via Amazon Author Central.
  • If you are doing a blog tour, return daily to each site and respond to comments. Leave your own comment thanking the host for having you there.
  • Get the specific URL for each post about your book and update it on your Appearances page. Shorten the link for tweets.
  • If you’re running a contest, don’t forget to mention this to your followers.
  • Remember to promote your friends’ books and retweet their posts so it’s not all about you.
  • If you’re doing concurrent sales on your other books, you’ll need to advertise these as well.
  • Gauge the effectiveness of the newsletter you sent out the day of your book release. Update your mailing list by removing bounces and unsubscribes.
  • If you boosted your Facebook post, was it effective? How many engagements and clicks did you get?
  • Keep meticulous records so that when you have another release, you can contact the reviewers who posted about your book and drop the people who got an advance copy but never responded. Then you can seek new readers to fill in the gaps.

I’m sure you can think of many more activities you’re doing in the couple of weeks following your book release. It’s a busy time when the pace seems relentless, but it will ease off. You’ll have to keep the promotional ball rolling, but at least it’ll be more of a steady pace than a race. What would you add to this list?

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The In-Between Game

What do you do when you’re in between books but you have too much going on to start the next novel? You might be waiting to hear back from your editor or beta readers or cover designer if the book is done.

Between Books

I’m in this situation now. I have four projects pending release but am in a holding pattern until I hear back from various sources. As I write this piece, Body Wave Audiobook is complete and waiting publication by Audible. Trimmed to Death is awaiting feedback from beta readers and a mockup design from my cover artist. Hairball Hijinks, a short story that includes an epilogue to Hair Brained, will include a teaser chapter from Trimmed to Death, so this one has to wait until there’s a pre-order link for that title. And Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition uses examples from Trimmed to Death so is best to come after that title is published.

In the meantime, I don’t want to get involved in plotting the next project. Instead, I am spending time on some of the following activities. Here are suggestions for what you can do when you’re in a similar holding pattern before a new release and you don’t want to work on another book:

· Prepare your book launch announcement

· Write all the blogs for a blog tour

· Do an optional book trailer as a bonus for your readers

· Start a Pinterest storyboard for your new release

· Prepare for speaker engagements with handouts and PowerPoint presentations

· Update your reviewer list by marking which people reviewed your last title

· Review your front and back materials for each indie book project

· Determine if you’ll have an online launch party and plan ahead for this event

· Update your mailing list and work on your next newsletter

· Create memes relating to your new book

· Write a Reader Discussion Guide for book clubs

· Update your bio on all social media sites

If you’d rather engage in brainless activities for a break, you can always clean out old files, update your blog index, rearrange your online photos, or go through the stack of papers in your to-do pile. As soon as your book is ready to go, you’ll be plenty busy. So take advantage of this lull while you can.

What else do you do in between book projects, besides doing preliminary research and jotting down plot ideas for the next story?

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FWA Conference Recap – Book Marketing

Besides giving my own talk on “Book Promotion on a Budget” at the Florida Writers Association 2017 conference, I sat in on a couple of other presentations about book marketing. Here are some of the main points I gleaned. Any errors are due to my misinterpretation.

If your book isn’t selling, you may need to:

Change the cover

Get more reviews
Write a letter to readers asking for reviews.
Continue to acquire reviews for backlist titles.
Aim for 100 reviews on Amazon to make an impact.

Evaluate your Amazon page
Check your keywords and categories.
Keyword strings work better than single keywords.
Note the sales rank of each category.

Examine your social media influence
Do you need to increase your engagement? This matters more than the number of followers.

Put your book out in multiple formats, not ebooks alone. Consider print and audiobooks.

Is your book in the right genre?

How relevant is your backlist title? Does it need an update and a fresh cover?

Are you marketing your book to the right audience?

Practice ebook price rotation. Ideal ebook pricing is $2.99 to $5.99. Shuffle your books in and out of sales promotions.

Plan a promotional campaign that includes Publicity, Online Promotion, Events, and Multimedia.

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RWA17 Workshop Recap – iBooks

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.
Ereader Device
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.
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RWA17 Workshop Recap – Attracting Readers

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.
Reader
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
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Year-End Review

Year-End Review of Writing Goals

As 2016 comes to a close, it’s time to review what you’ve accomplished as a writer and what goals you’ll carry forward to the following year. Aside from my personal goals of eating healthier, exercising more, and spending time with family, I set career goals. These are further divided into creative and business objectives. So let’s see how I’ve done.

Goals

WRITING GOALS

· Finish Hair Brained, #14 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries – IN PROGRESS.

· Publish Permed to Death revised Author’s Edition (Bad Hair Day #1) – DONE.

· Commence audiobook process via ACX, starting with Permed to Death – DONE.

· Revise backlist mystery titles Highlights to Heaven, Died Blonde and Dead Roots – INCOMPLETE. I’ve finished Highlights to Heaven, and it’s set for release in January. The others will carry over into the new year.

BUSINESS GOALS

· Enter Peril by Ponytail in writing contests – DONE. This title won third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. 

· Consider bundling books 1-3 in the Bad Hair Day series as a box set for the holidays – NOT DONE. This goal has been set aside until all nine of my original titles from Kensington are available in revised Author’s Editions.

· Hold launch parties for each reissued backlist title and for the audiobooks – DONE.

· Plan promo campaign for Facials Can Be Fatal to be released Feb. 22, 2017 – IN PROGRESS. I’ve scheduled my blog tour, sent ARCs to reviewers, done the book trailer, and held a Goodreads giveaway. There’s more to do.

· Engage with readers via newsletter, blogs and social media sites – ONGOING.

· Learn how to put my lectures on Power Point – DONE. I am proud of this one. I try to learn something new each year, and this was it.

Extra Accomplishments

I edited and published Florida Escape by Harry I. Heller. This is my father’s account of his 1935 journey to Florida and the adventures he experienced during the state’s simpler days. Excerpts from Florida Escape are used in Facials Can Be Fatal, so now the true historic tale is available to readers in ebook format.

I wrote Haunted Hair Nights, a Bad Hair Day mystery novella. This was published first in the Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime anthology and later as a standalone edition in print and digital formats.

So even though 2016 didn’t see any releases from Five Star, I published the following:

March 4, 2016: Permed to Death Author’s Edition
June 7, 2016: Florida Escape by Harry I. Heller
June 27, 2016: Permed to Death Audiobook
Aug. 29, 2016: Happy Homicides 4: Fall into Crime
Oct. 13, 2016: Haunted Hair Nights
Nov. 7, 2016: Hair Raiser Audiobook

I’d say that’s pretty good, wouldn’t you? CLICK TO TWEET

Resource: https://thewritelife.com/year-end-review-for-your-writing/

Did you accomplish all you’d set out to do this year?

 

 

 

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Audiobooks with ACX – Production

Audiobooks with ACX – Production

This is part 4 of my series on Audiobooks with ACX. After you have hit the “Approve Audiobook” button, ACX will instruct you to pay your narrator, if you are paying per finished hour. The payment due is based on the finished length. Once you send the funds via the narrator’s preferred method, click on the button for “I sent xxx to my producer.”

When the producer confirms payment has been received, ACX and Audible will conduct a quality assurance review and prepare the title for retail sale. This can take up to two weeks.

Here’s an idea of how long this all takes from my timeline. My narrator was pretty fast and responded promptly to requests for changes. Hopefully, you’ll find someone just as responsive.

Posted Book Profile on April 12, 2016
First Audition Received on April 18, 2016
Received my narrator’s audition on May 2, 2016
She accepted my offer on May 3, 2016
Final Files Loaded on June 9, 2016
I approved Final Files on June 11, 2016
Production: 7 hours, 14 minutes, 24 seconds
Narrator confirmed payment
Six days later – Audiobook Release

There’s no warning when the audiobook will appear. I got an email from ACX that said: “Permed to Death (The Bad Hair Day Mysteries Book 1) is now on sale at Audible, and it will be available on iTunes and Amazon within the next few days.”

Two days later, I also received my 25 free download codes that can be used for soliciting reviews.

If you have friends or relatives who have never received a book from Audible, you can send them a copy for free from your audiobook’s page on Audible. There’s a button for this purpose. This helps you save some of your codes for better use.

Now it’s time to start on your marketing plan.

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PERMED TO DEATHaudio (320x320)

Permed to Death audiobook, book #1 in the Bad Hair Day Mysteries, is now available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Narrated by the talented Mary Ann Jacobs from Voice Over Visions. Hairstylist Marla Shore is giving grumpy Mrs. Kravitz a perm when her client dies in the shampoo chair. If that isn’t enough to give her a bad hair day, handsome Detective Dalton Vail suspects Marla of poisoning the woman’s coffee creamer.

Audible: http://adbl.co/293g3Lk

iTunes: http://apple.co/299427t

Amazon: http://amzn.to/294EC94

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Giveaways and Bargains

July 1-31
Body Wave (Bad Hair Day Mystery #4) is on sale for $1.00 at
Smashwords until July 31. Coupon Code SSW75. Marla the hairstylist goes undercover as a nurse’s aide to help solve the murder of her ex-spouse’s third wife.

July 11-Aug 8
29 Days of Summer – Cozy Mystery Giveaway
Join our summer celebration and enter to win more than 40 cozy mysteries from an amazing collection of authors, PLUS a Kindle Fire!
Click Here to Enter

July 28
Killer Knots original edition ebook will be on sale for ONE DAY ONLY on July 28 for $2.99. Mark your calendars now. Available at most online retailers.

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