You are now entering the world of my thoughts.

This blog is my diary of works in progress. The only way a writer can improve upon her skill is to practice, practice and practice some more. Here, in this place of quiet peace, I pen to paper my thoughts and creativity. Welcome to my world.

Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 SN Taylor, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Guest Post: Marketing: Before, During and After Publication




Marketing: Before, During and After Publication 

 

Marketing is a dirty word.  Isn’t it?

When I was just starting out—when Bethany House released my first book—I sent out a series of marketing emails with the title: A Little Shameless Self-Promotion.  The title was a nod to how odd I felt actually trying to market my book.  There was something faux-apologetic about it, as if I by inserting the word “shameless” I was letting people know that, while I knew it was bad form, I was doing it anyway.

Think about that.  In what other industry does someone create something and then not tell anyone about it?  When the new iPhone comes out, does Apple slip it onto the shelves and hope someone happens to see it?  Or do they marshal all of their resources to get people talking about it?

As writers, we want to think of ourselves as artists—as if somehow that places us above the need to lower ourselves to something like marketing.  After all, art isn’t a commodity.  Is it?

The truth lies somewhere in between. 

 I love writing stories.  And I love when people read them.  But how can the latter happen if no one does the hard work of letting people know there’s a new story out there to be read?

 I’ll be honest; I’ve never been good at marketing.  I don’t keep a blog.  I rarely think up anything interesting enough to tweet.  And I don’t engage all that well with a wide audience.  One of the reasons for that is I’m a serious introvert.  I’m happiest when I’m home by myself jotting stories down on yellow notepads with a mechanical pencil.  I can write stories.  What I can’t do is engage with people.

But when Bethany House signed me, they were taking a risk.  They took on an unknown author and signed me to a multi-book deal.  And make no mistake—the risk was all theirs’.  So how does my publisher try to mitigate that risk?  First, they try to put out books that people will actually read.  Second, they work with the author to make sure the product that’s released is as good as it can be.  And third, they throw resources at getting the word out.  Every one of these things is a partnership, requiring work from both parties.  And that includes marketing, even if that doesn’t play to my skill-set.

As the title of this post suggests, there are three phases to marketing: pre, during and post.  And each focuses on a specific objective.

Prior to publication, the focus of marketing efforts is something I call pre-branding.   Think about the books you buy—and how many of them you buy because of the author’s name on the cover.  Before your book comes out, you have to focus on name recognition.  In a perfect world a reader will know your name before they know the name of your book.

How do you do that?  You go where the readers are.  Take part in online communities frequented by readers.  Join Facebook groups geared toward readers and authors.  Blog prolifically—and not just about books.  Have something unique to say.  It can take a lot of time but it’s worth it because you’re laying the groundwork for the sort of name recognition that will increase book sales.

Admittedly, all of the above is difficult for me because, as I said, I don’t socially network well.  Even so, I’m convinced that my feeble attempts at this sort of marketing have paid off, especially as I’ve gotten a few books under my belt.  If you’re the sort of writer who can be tenacious about this sort of thing, it’s going to be a tremendous help in adding longevity to your career. 

And that brings me to the next phase in the marketing process: concurrent with publication marketing.  This is actually a bit of a misnomer because this kind of marketing starts months before anyone can buy your book.  For my own books, I typically consider the availability of the cover art as signaling the start of this phase 

As far as I’m concerned, this is the easiest part of the process.  I’m getting the cover out there for people to see.  I’m searching the websites (Amazon, ChristianBook, Barnes & Noble) for links to pre-order the book, which I then pass along to fans.  I scour the web for advance reviews and repost/link these as appropriate.  I come up with the occasional tidbit about the new book, or a question for readers, and post on my author page.  Most of this is reactive marketing—I’m responding to things other people are doing and trying to throw my own weight behind these efforts.  It’s easy and there’s really no excuse for not joining in and doing your part here.

Of course, you’re not limited to profiting off the work of others here.  Some authors will use this time to generate interest in the book through contests—with prizes ranging from free books to even a chance of appearing as a character in the author’s next novel.  There’s really no limit to what you can do here—anything to get people talking about your book, to get them looking forward to its release.

Which brings us to…post-release marketing. 

This is the part of the marketing process that has the potential to produce the greatest rewards as it relates to your current book (as opposed to pre-branding, which has greater longevity).  But it can also be the most taxing. 

The reason that post-release marketing has such potential is because this is usually the time when the author partners with, hopefully, a large group of people who can help spread the word about the new release.  This is where the interviews happen (print, radio and television).  It’s also where introverted authors can try their hand at contributing guest posts on others’ blogs! 

Now, you may wonder how a guy with an admitted lack of social media skills can handle the responsibilities of this phase.  The answer is that, while responding to interview requests and writing guest posts for blogs are social activities, they’re also activities with deadlines—and with well-defined parameters.  I work pretty well under a deadline.  And if you tell me to write about something, I can usually do it.  Too, I genuinely enjoy engaging with readers.  I’m actually pretty good at it on a one on one level.  And, to me, these sorts of targeted activities are more like a conversation between friends than they are attempts to engage a large audience.  So I can jump into this phase feet first and enjoy the process.

Yet, I mentioned that this can also be the most taxing phase of marketing—and that’s a good thing!  If you’re lucky, you have another book in the works—something you’re turning your focus to even as the one you just released is finding readers.  It’s a strange situation to be in.  You’ve spent a year writing a book, living with the characters, going back and forth with your editor.  For me, once that process is done, there’s the temptation to wash my hands of the thing, to let the smart people at my publishing house do what they do best.  It’s not that I’m not excited about the book.  On the contrary, I’m looking forward to its release; I want to hear what people think of it.  I want readers to enjoy the story as much as I did.  But I’m also thinking about my future—about the next book.  Because even if the book you’ve just released sells well, even if people are talking about it, if you don’t have a follow-up you’re easily forgotten. 

So you have to split your time between supporting the new release and struggling with a new story—all the while hoping you’re not doing a disservice to either.  In truth, it’s a good situation to be in because once you’re not in it anymore, it means no one is buying your books!  So you dig in and throw all your energy into both tasks, knowing that at some point the book support demands will fade and you’ll find more time to devote to the new story.  And, with any luck, you’ll get to do it all over again!

Ultimately, your book will rise or fall on its own merits.  It’s rare (though not unheard of) for any amount of marketing to save a bad book.  And we’ve all heard stories about some incredible book that reaches the mainstream based solely on word of mouth.  Which means that your best strategy for having a successful book is the same as it’s always been: write a good book.  Concentrate on craft first, which will make marketing your book, in whatever phase you’re in, a whole lot easier.  

 


Author Don Hoesel

Don Hoesel is a Web site designer for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN. He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal. He lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife and two children. The Alarmists is his third novel.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Blog Tour: Blood and Bone by Don Hoesel

 
Blood and Bone 

More Archaeological Adventures from Popular Suspense Writer Don Hoesel.

A decade after Serpent of Moses, Jack is married to Espy and back teaching at Evanston University. They have two sons, one of whom has cystic fibrosis. Despite this challenge, life is comfortable. But that all changes when the CIA, while combing through the papers of the late Gordon Reese, uncovers the secret of Elisha's bones. Jack's world is then turned upside down by an urgent call from his old friend Duckey, who's been alerted to the CIA's probing by one of his former contacts. Jack and his family escape from their home just ahead of the CIA, and he decides to do what he should have done long ago: recover the bones and destroy them. Except the bones aren't where he left them. So now Jack is in a race, for the last time, to find the bones. And he's not the only one. Pitted against both the CIA and an organization that will kill to protect their secrets, Jack and Espy follow hard-to-decipher clues across the globe before arriving in the catacombs of Paris for a final showdown that will either save their family--or tear apart everything they hold dear forever.


  Blood and Bone Tour
 
 
Author Don Hoesel

Don Hoesel is a Web site designer for a Medicare carrier in Nashville, TN. He has a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University and has published short fiction in Relief Journal. He lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife and two children. The Alarmists is his third novel.  
Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 8/4/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guest Post: Self-Publishing with Jasime Roy


The Highs and Lows of Self-Publishing
Challenges of Publishing: My Journey
Jasmine Roy

Becoming a book author isn’t a simple job. Though the entry barrier has been lowered in the past few years, sustaining yourself through the bumps isn’t so easy. Making contacts with various parties in the book industry and then proposing your manuscript to the publisher through a book agent. And then waiting for their approval and more likely getting rejections is all so disappointing. After you face a couple of rejections, you are soon on the track of negative self-talk, quick to label yourself as a loser before another publisher really starts to like your work.

This phenomenon is fairly common and has driven many book authors to walk the self-publishing pathway. And there’s nothing wrong with that. This is an age when relying on someone else to carry out your job is likely to land you in trouble and give your nothing but failures and disappointments; a DIY job is highly preferred even in the publishing industry. For new book authors, self-publishing is definitely a route worth taking.

I took up self-publishing when it became too much for me to handle the constant rejections and delays by various publishers. Some sane person who’s been here for quite some time gave me a wise piece of advice of going for self-publishing.  Looking at my initial record of publisher rejections, I felt his advice was well-meaning and a well-intended one.  

My Self-publishing Experience

I love my work, and I know deep inside that I possess the drive and passion to make my dreams come true. However, to make them come true and in the quickest way possible, I needed to make amends in the way that I do my work, not just writing but publishing too.

Since my first successful experience at self-publishing was for a short romantic novel which revolved around a couple who weren’t sure about the feelings they shared for each other but later ended up being together. I thought making an interesting eBook out of this with a touching cover page and a title that captivates and moves the hearts of all that believe in true love.

I hired a self-publisher and instructed them about the design and title text that I wanted to incorporate into the e-copy. I ensured that there was an intrigue factor in the book; nobody likes to read a book that has a tell-all synopsis.  This had happened with me for one of my comic books when my extracts summarized all that was in the book. No doubt that the EBook never found any readers.

For the romantic novel, I registered with all possible free eBook websites and made sure the copies of my eBook were available for downloading from there. I wrote the book extract in such a way that it appealed to the modern youth. When you are publishing a romantic novel, keep in mind the target audience. If the eBook cover page and layout represents the age when your grandpa met grandma, you are cooking up a recipe for disaster.

In the first month itself, my EBook picked up sales through Amazon.com. That was the moment of utmost happiness for me. After enjoying the first few readers for my eBook, I made it a paid version in the third month. And it surprised me to see that people were willing to buy the paid version of my eBook too. Remember to cash in on the success as it may not last. If you wait too long before converting the free version into a paid one, the readers will circulate the free eBook to their friends who will no longer need the paid version. I had committed this mistake while publishing my comic eBook.

Self publishing a book may seem interesting, but you have to be well-versed with a lot of things and be good at handling them all at once. It did not take me much time to find a self-publisher from the highly informative online databases to help me with the implementation part. But, the planning part was all mine; they grant you the freedom to choose whatever design and layout you want for your book. And yes, for a romantic novel, don’t forget to use that oomph factor for publishing!


Author Bio: Jasmine Roy has extensive experience in writing on a range of topic. These portals not only support publishers, new authors, freelance illustrators but they also provide valuable information and services to publishing agents and agencies.
Please visit the author's site:  http://pubmatchblog.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday Tunes: A Change is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke 1963

Now THIS is singing! This song brings back so many childhood memories of sitting in my grandmother's kitchen or relaxing with my mom. They both loved the music of the golden years. I call it golden because people actually sang about the meaningful things in life. Enjoy everyone and hope you had a wonderful and safe 4th of July weekend!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Guest Post: A Poet Name Fida

I love poetry though I have never really been good at it. So I admire anyone who is blessed with the talent to create poetry. I would love to introduce you all to a wonderful you lady who aspires to publish her very own collection of poetry. Meet Fida Islaih.  Fida will share her writing journey with us today. 
Take it away Fida!
 
~~~~~**********~~~~~~*********~~~~~~~~********~~~~~~~~********
 
I've been writing for as long as I can remember, but I didn't get serious until I was in middle school. I have a drawer full of unedited stories. 

I was first into writing poetry. I was sitting in class with a poetry project. I enjoyed it and write extra poems for it. After that I continued writing poems.

I read Does My Head Look Big in This by Randa Abdel-Fattah. It inspired me to write a similar story. A few months later I gave it a major rewrite. After that I was inspired to put all the good and bad experiences in different stories I wanted to write. I could make the MC do what I couldn't do. It made me feel better in so many ways. 

I'm hoping to self publish my poetry in the next few months and years. I might self publish my novellas, too. I'm also trying to make them full novels and be able to query them and maybe get an agent. I know a few are interested in the concepts, but like I said, I have to work on length. 

Like I said I've been writing poetry for awhile and I get easily inspired by everything: my experiences and nature. I have more than enough for a collection. 

Recently I participated in the A to Z Challenge and saw that from previous years people self publish their posts. I thought I should do the same. I also thought 26 poems isn't enough. I decided to put in 100 poems. I did exactly that. Right now I'm crowdfunding the collection so that I could get help monetary and professionally for self publishing it. 

I hope you guys are willing to join in. You can find the synopsis, excerpt, and place to donate at poetfida.pubslush.com 

Thank you! 

Fida Islaih, Poet

Monday, July 1, 2013

Blind Sight Blog Tour: July 1 ~ 7th

The Inspiration for Blind Sight? 
Literature and Bad Table Manners

Blind-Sight-Ana-Book-CoverThere are two sides to every story. That's the major premise behind how Blind Sight is written. Anyone who has ever listened to grandparents talk to each other without their hearing aids knows how funny those conversations can be. What one of them says is not always what the other one hears. Or trying to understand someone when their mouth is full, I wanted to capture the misunderstandings that occur when the perspective is limited to a single point of view, but I couldn't do it alone. 

I was first inspired by Tom Stoppard who turned Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet into the comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Tom Stoppard's play follows the plot of Hamlet through the point of view of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, giving them their own voice and own plot so that even though it is the same plot, it is a very different story. It was exactly what I expected out of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. I made a few futile attempts to write the same story from different perspectives and eventually let the idea drop. I couldn't get the two sides different enough to where it felt like two different voices, but then I met Ermisenda on an RP site of all places. She was a brilliant writer, but more than that, she made me a better writer. We played off each other in a way that I just can't explain unless you've ever found that other RPer with whom you just click. It was a true partnership, making Blind Sight a superior novel to anything we could have put together individually. It wasn't working from an already written manuscript and trying to put a new spin on it, we worked together every step of the way, literally RPing scenes over MSN and Skype since we live half a world apart. Eliabeth Hawthorne
 

This post is part of the Blind Sight Blog Tour. Blind Sight is an urban fantasy novel written in two volumes, each telling the story through a different character's perspective. Follow the tour and read reviews, guest post, book excerpts and interviews about Blind Sight and the Ermilia coauthors.


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