What I’m Reading This Weekend

So, I’m reading this book by Dan Blank called “Be the Gateway.” Sounds a little scifi/fantasy, right? Actually it’s about reaching out to real readers and sharing your work. I don’t really want to say marketing because that word has such a stigma attached to it.

I have to say it is not the usual stuff you see on this topic. It’s pretty unique. And a helluva lot of work from the looks of it. I think I’m up for the challenge though.

I never thought that gaming rankings, offering endless freebies or other standard tricks of the trade were the way to go. I don’t really want to trick readers. I just want to give them a story that will do something for them, right?

Anyway – do check it out. Be The Gateway is available on Amazon in print and Kindle.

Have a great holiday and don’t eat too many hotdogs, those things will kill you.  😉

Annie

The mother of resources post

So a while ago, I read an article about a writer who devoted a page to resources that she wanted to have to hand. It turned out to be quite a list and had several categories. Long story short, I’ve decided to do the same. Following is the current list. And I am adding a page called Resources (clever right?) that will have these links and I’m guessing others as time goes on. Feel free to avail yourselves of the resources, there are some really good ones in there.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, I am fooling around with design and trying to learn some basics – hence the many picture posts and this somewhat eerie image for this post. 😉

AUTHOR STRATEGIES/PROMOTION/MARKETING:

http://annerallen.com/your-author-strategy-3-mini-strategies/

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2016/03/your-biggest-book-marketing-or-platform-building-roadblocks/

http://writerunboxed.com/2015/11/08/standing-out-on-the-crowded-shelf-how-to-help-your-fiction-find-an-audience/

http://www.livewritethrive.com/2015/09/28/a-12-month-strategic-plan-for-marketing-your-book-before-release/

http://writerunboxed.com/2015/10/01/the-6-most-common-marketing-mistakes-made-by-authors/

http://writerunboxed.com/2015/08/10/simple-promo-tip-nailing-your-email-subject-line/

http://bookmarketingtools.com/blog/3-list-building-tactics-to-attract-subscribers-quickly-before-a-book-launch/

http://www.publishingspark.com/10-things-readers-want-hear/

http://selfpublishingadvice.org/book-marketing-how-to-create-an-author-brand-case-study-with-jessica-bell/

https://insights.bookbub.com/promoting-series-keep-readers-hooked/

THE WRITING PROCESS:

http://writerunboxed.com/2016/07/14/why-its-crucial-to-write-ugly/

http://writerunboxed.com/2016/06/04/in-defence-of-cliches/

http://www.livewritethrive.com/2016/03/24/using-close-ups-in-your-scenes-to-get-personal/

https://janefriedman.com/write-love-scene/

http://writerunboxed.com/2015/12/02/the-current/

http://writerunboxed.com/2015/10/14/magnanimous-2/

BOOK COVER DESIGN/DESIGN:

https://janefriedman.com/book-cover-redesign/

https://jwmanus.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/can-you-create-the-perfect-ebook-cover/

https://medium.com/marketing-and-entrepreneurship/i-spent-30-000-testing-different-blog-designs-heres-what-i-found-8952bf057b8f

AUTHOR TOOLS/RESOURCES:

https://janefriedman.com/listenup-acx-alternative/

https://kindlepreneur.com/wisestamp-email-signatures-authors/

https://janefriedman.com/using-wordpress-author-websites/

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2016/04/isbn-logbook/

http://puns.samueltaylor.org/

https://reedsy.com/write-a-book

http://www.publishxpress.com/

http://selfpublishingadvice.org/best-tools-of-the-self-publishing-trade-running-an-author-business-jay-artale/

https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/start.swe?SWECmd=Start&SWEHo=eco.copyright.gov

https://kindlepreneur.com/amazon-book-description-generator/

CRIME RESEARCH:

http://www.the-line-up.com/best-true-crime-podcasts/

SOUNDTRACKS FOR WRITING:

https://coffitivity.com/

THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY/INDUSTRY TRENDS:

https://janefriedman.com/myth-print/

 

If I give you a book, do you owe me a review?

This was a discussion that started in my Facebook feed last week and I’ve been thinking about it, ever since. Not surprisingly, I suppose, there were many varying views on this question.

The original post went something like this, “If you are given a free book, you are obligated to post a review.”

As an author, I certainly agree with the spirit of the statement. All writers hope to get reviews, positive ones, but even negative reviews are helpful. And it is a difficult task to get reviews. I don’t know if there are any statistics on it but it seems that a very small percentage of readers actually post reviews on anything they read.

However, the question for me is if I give away one of my books freely is the receiver obligated to write a review?

In my case, no. I make no assumption that giving away one of my books will result in a review. I would certainly be happy if that were the case, but it isn’t something I expect. Just as I wouldn’t expect my buddy Zelda to buy me a latte this week because I treated her to one last week.

Why do authors give away books anyway?

There are many reasons authors give away books, certainly the hope of getting reviews would be one of them. Probably because they’ve been told by a marketing ‘expert’ that giving away books results in getting reviews, will skyrocket them to the top 100 list, make them super visible to potential readers, somehow make them a best-selling author, etc. I know plenty of authors who would disagree with that ‘conventional wisdom.’

But an author may also give away a book to:

  • Entice you to sign up for their mailing list
  • Get you acquainted with their writing and become a fan
  • Increase their rankings in various bookstores within Amazon and on other online book retailers
  • Encourage you to buy and read their other books
  • Otherwise increase their sales stats
  • And probably some reasons that none of us would think of

However, regardless of the reason that an author may give you a free book, does that obligate you to give them something in return?

I don’t think it does. And if it does, perhaps it should be called a trade rather than a freebie?

What about you? Do you believe that if an author gives you a free book that you are obligated to review it? Do you typically review the books you read? If not, how come? Is the offer of a free book intriguing to you or a sign of desperation? What do you think about free books? Feel free to share your views in the comments below.

Indie Spotlight on Traci Sanders: Ten Tips I Learned About Publishing a Book

Today’s guest post is from author Traci Sanders, on the topic of publishing. Her new book, Beyond the Book” is currently available at Amazon in both print and digital. Take it away Traci.

At the time of writing this book, I have self-published eight books in various genres. (romance, parenting, children’s, and now nonfiction/tutorial) Each book that I released taught me a little more about the industry, my strengths and weaknesses as an author, and relationships with my friends and family.

Here are a few things I have learned since becoming an indie author:

1.      Writing the book, for most authors, is the easy part.

2.      Some authors edit their own work, and do a great job. But I have learned that professional editing does pay off, and IT’S NOT THE SAME as general (or even college-level) editing. These guys know more about comma splices, fused sentences, correct tense, passive and active voice, and the use of single and double quotation marks than most authors. Most of them became editors because they enjoy the technical side of writing, whereas most authors simply enjoy the creative side. This is not to say that there aren’t some excellent author-editor superheroes out there. But chances are, they either received formal training on editing, or they took the time to research the process and became better with each book they published.

3.      The cool thing about researching editing tips is, once you learn them, you tend to not forget them, which saves you time and money on future published books.

4.      Most authors are too close to their own work, and too emotionally invested in it to be able to edit thoroughly. Many times, it’s because they know their story inside and out, and tend to skip right past common errors – such as passive voice, proper tense, and omitted words.

5.      Asking for reviews from friends and family is like asking them to help you move. They love you, and want to help, and even want to be able to come visit you in your new home from time to time (i.e. – read your book); but if it conflicts with their lives or schedule, it’s probably not going to happen.

6.      Friends and family are not always going to tell you when your book needs work, again, because they love you.

7.      Marketing is an everyday endeavor that most authors dread; however, the greater level of online presence and engagement you have, the higher your sales will be. And you will receive more reviews.

8.      Success doesn’t usually happen overnight, but new connections that lead to success, can!

9.      Supporting others goes a long way in the industry. One hand washes another. Eventually, YOU will be the one with clean hands! Until then, you must keep digging in the trenches.

If writing is your dream, just keep at it. Passion tends to be an infectious thing … it eventually spreads to others. If you write what you are passionate about, eventually, you will find others who share your passion!

From Writer Chick: If you have any questions about indie publishing, please feel free to post them in the comments and Traci will respond.

 

Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies.

An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.

Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.

 

Indie Author Spotlight – S.J. Hermann

As an indie author I like to pay it forward with other indies and give them a little love. This week, I wanted to introduce you to S.J. Hermann. Steve’s an all around great guy, an anti-bullying advocate and has a razor sharp wit.

His Morium Trilogy is a gripping YA Supernatural Thriller series. I’ll let Steve tell you about his inspiration for writing the series:

After I finished writing final book of the Morium Trilogy, I paused and reflected back as to why I wrote these books. It was more than releasing the one scene that played out in my head; the foundation in which Morium was built upon. I wanted to tackle tough subjects that teenagers may face on a daily basis. The emotional pain that lay buried deep in the conscious of their fragile minds as a result of relentless mental torture. How it might mold them into someone they never desired to be. To do unimaginable things to others, or to themselves.

I dig into sensitive topics that readers may have a hard time reading. Even though these books are YA, I don’t sugar coat. My goal was to provide an entertaining read while bringing forth serious problems; bullying, self-harm, addiction, loneliness, dealing with loss, sexual abuse and hiding your true self for fear of what others may think. Since it was integral to the story line, my writing had to be raw and to the point, for doing otherwise, would have lessened the impact.

Is this a dark series? Very. Is this a series for those younger than fifteen? Probably not. Give any teenager that has bottled up anger and give them the gift of supernatural powers, they will lash out any way they can.

None of this could’ve been possible if not for strong and developed characters. Alexandria (Lexi), Nathan, Stacy, and further in the trilogy, Renee, have their morals tested; fueled by abilities that two of them believe are an entitlement. I want readers to ask themselves how they’d react if they were walking in the shoes of the main characters. As I laid the groundwork for the trilogy, my personal demons from the past had me questioning my own morality. What would’ve I done?

(You can check out his books by clicking on the thumbnail of each one)

His Books

MORIUM (Book One of the Morium Trilogy)

Books Go Social Runner-up for Best Self-Published Book of 2015

morium-book-1If you had the powers to avenge yourself… would you? Bullied… Years of shame… Lexi and Nathan knew pain.

A GRIPPING YA SUPERNATURAL THRILLER

MORIUM is the story of Alexandria and Nathan… and Stacy. Three teenagers who were victims of bullying all through high school. They kept their torment a secret from their family and tried to cope in their own way. They only had each other. Their friendship saw them through the seemingly endless years of suffering.

But hope was in sight… they will be graduating soon. The vision of a new life away from the bullies and the constant humiliation, gave them something to look forward to. If only that day came sooner.

One night, Lexi and Nathan saw an object fall from the sky and went to investigate. As they touched the rock, a strange power entered their bodies. Suddenly, they’re not helpless anymore. They can get revenge for all the suffering and pain they had to endure.

How will they use these powers?

MORIUM discusses the moral dilemma of doing what’s right against getting revenge. When your dignity has been shattered and your life has been a living hell… what is RIGHT?

MORIUM: Dark Horizons (Book Two of the Morium Trilogy)

morium-book-2When the Light of Hope fades….
All that’s left are Dark Horizons…

A POWERFUL and INTENSE SUPERNATURAL THRILLER

In Book 2 of the MORIUM Trilogy, Alexandria and Nathan’s struggle with their supernatural powers continue.

When a new person enters her life, Alexandria or Lexi discovers that she doesn’t need supernatural powers to have a brighter future. She can leave her bullied past behind and rebuild her life. Meanwhile, “The Gift” takes deeper hold of Nathan and his hunger for revenge grows. But he fights his need to absorb souls to regain Lexi’s trust and save their friendship.

Stacy finds herself caught in the conflict between her closest friends, even as she battles her own demons. Whose side should she take? Will she choose love over friendship… or will she fail them both?

An opportunity to get back at Lexi’s assaulter pushes Nathan back into the path of darkness. One final act of bullying sets him over the edge, and he decides to put an end to the never ending pain and humiliation he and his friends suffered over the years.

Can Lexi save Nathan from completely giving in to the dark influence of The Gift?
Will their friendship survive?

DARK HORIZONS will immerse the reader into the intricate psyches of the bullied characters we rooted for in MORIUM. Morals aside, can we really blame Nathan for his anger and his need for revenge? Through indifference, did we not have a hand in creating the monster he has become?

MORIUM: Terminus (Book Three of the Morium Trilogy)

Coming in May 2017 Special Pre-Release price of $0.99

morium-book-3IT ALL ENDS HERE.

One final confrontation between friends… One final outcome.

In the finale of the highly rated supernatural thriller series, The Morium Trilogy, Lexi must not only fight the evil that resides within her, but also struggle to keep her relationship with Kyle from falling apart. Unknown to Lexi, Nathan is planning to exterminate not only the remaining bullies, but the entire town as well.

In the end, what will Lexi and Nathan choose… FRIENDSHIP or REVENGE?

Can they fight their inner demons and preserve what matters most?

steve

S.J. Hermann is a writer of paranormal, science fiction, horror, and romance novels. His books have moral basis hidden within them, and he brings some of his experiences into his characters. Hermann is an anti-bullying advocate and his struggles with self-harm can be read on his website.

Hermann currently resides in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, where after a break, he hopes to return to college to earn a certificate in graphic or web design.  When he is not thinking of stories to write, he is an award winning artist.

Hermann is an avid roller coaster fan who has ridden over forty different coasters throughout his life. Though he is terrified of heights, there is not a ride he won’t conquer. If there is a hockey game on television, you can bet that he will be watching, especially his favorite team the Chicago Blackhawks.

He is an avid Walking Dead fan and will read or watch anything about zombies. Max Brooks and Stephen King are his authors of choice. He is a strong supporter of indies.

If you’d like to know more about Steve you can visit his website, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google Plus, and/or GoodReads.

A lollapalooza of great links to start off the week

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Birth vs Battle by David Corbett suggests that conflict ain’t everything in a story.

The Cyber Exchange Principle from the Writer’s Forensic Blog explains the Locard Exchange – the basis for using forensic evidence in crime detection.

An Almost Perfect Murder by Sue Coletta. Fascinating case study of a surgeon who almost got away with murder.

11 Tips to help you build your online community by Cat Michaels provides sage advice for building your platform.

Do You Know Where Your ISBNs Are? by Joel Friedlander, is a good nuts and bolts on ISBNs plus a free download.

How to write a great love scene by  Jessi Rita Hoffaman, provides some great tips on avoiding the schmaltz and getting to the gold in a love scene.

Who really killed JonBenet Ramsey by Garry Rodgers is an in depth analysis of the case and who the likely killer was of this sweet little girl.

Just for fun – I guess the shelf life for Shades has reached critical mass

And for laughs: Jimmy Fallon does a helluva Trump impression and this made me laugh out loud.

And just to get your week starting off right a little music.

Doing Backstory Right and Other Good Reads

 

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I’ve been away much longer than I realized, in my quest to finish the third book in a new trilogy among other highly distracting activities. And I wanted to reassure my three undying fans I still live and breathe. Also have been catching up on my reading and have some nice reads for you.

The Shocking Truth About Info Dumps by Lisa Cron discusses how to do backstory right. And folks, she is spot on.

Scene Structure: Scenes as Segments and Capsules of Time by CS Lakin Good nuts and bolts on scene structure, especially good statements on time in writing.

Beware the Writing Rules Police by Anne R. Allen. Anne takes the writing rules police to task and kicks their butts.

Burnout, creativity, and the tyranny of production schedules by Elizabeth Bear. Hardworking author Elizabeth Bear makes a good case for taking pressure and time off from writing. I totally get what she is talking about here.

Really Going There by Annie Neugebauer makes a good case for the argument that our best stories come from the places we are terrified to write about.

Have a good week everybody – step away from the political arguments on FB – real life is much better for your blood pressure. 🙂

Book Marketing Trends for Authors and Other Good Reads This Week

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I’m afraid I haven’t had much time to devote to blogging lately because I’m trying to finish a first draft of my novel. More on that later. In the meantime, following are some awesome reads for the Indie’s among us. Enjoy and have a great week.

7 Book Marketing Trends Authors Can’t Afford to Ignore. Kimberley Grabas offers some solid marketing strategies, with lots of actionable tips.

Why do we write? Lisa Kron offers a very interesting perspective on the impact that writing, even entertainment writing, can have.

Self Publishing Notebook. Jonathan Kile offers an interesting a funny perspective on indie writing and publishing.

Vetting Vendors: Public Relations Professionals. Naomi Blackburn has some advice on how to hire a PR pro that won’t ruin your PR.

Scene Structure: Understanding the Truth about Character Arcs. CS Larkin gives us a great nuts and bolts post on character arcs.

And just for fun, check out this Content Idea Generator. Who knows, it might be your next brilliant idea.