Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
#21. Here’s a new game plan. If you’re an author planning to attend your next conference, you might want to reconsider that writer’s workshop you’ve prepared to teach. Why? It’s not necessarily a new trend, because RT Booklovers Convention has been doing it for many years, but recently I noticed more conferences this year, since I’ve attended six, host fun workshops geared toward readers. At RT, there are long lines every day.
Come on, who wouldn’t want to see s showdown between Heather Graham’s characters and Cherry Adair’s? But that’s not all. Readers are lining up to get the freebies and all the other give-a-ways for attending. How about a Thrills and Chills workshop with authors Lee Childs and Charlaine Harris? Other reader workshops had titles like Romance: Wheels of Fortune; History Fan Fictionary; Clockwork Carnivale Tea, and on and on. It is no small task to entertain the readers. How about Reel Romance Trivial Pursuit?
At Romcon this year, there was more than enough fun for its readers. Paranormal authors sponsored Battle to Survival; another group of authors put on Candyman All Grown Up, and there was more.
Are you starting to get the picture?
Next year at RSJ, I’m hosting a reader workshop called May the Best Man Win! This should be interestingJ. Also next year, fellow author, LisaWatson, and I are teaming up to host a sweet romance night at Romcon, another interesting endeavor indeed.
FYI, this could be costly, depending on the number of readers who attend your fun workshop. That is why it’s a good idea to go in with a group of authors to pull it off. Otherwise, you’ll be solely responsible for coming up with the nuances of the games and the prizes. Oh, not to mention that readers would probably want to walk away with a couple of free books too.
I hope this post has been a blessing. Until next time,
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
A great book has six vital parts: Narration, dialogue, memorable characters, plot and description.
How many characters are too many characters? Keep an alphabetical spreadsheet of all your characters.
Everybody in your book should have a purpose to advance the heroine/hero’s agenda. If not, delete them.
**How does the FIRST LINE of each chapter begin and the LAST PARAGRAPH end?
*Check out Scrivener, a program many authors are using to store research, organize their ideas and write their manuscripts. http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php. Free 30 day trial
Writing A Romance for Dummies by Leslie Wainger
Words You Thought You Knew by Jenna Glatzer
What Not to Say by Linda J. Beam
The Most Common Mistakes in English Usage by Thomas Elliott Berry
**Scholastic Dictionary of Synonyms, Antonyms, and Homonyms: aunt or ant; grown or groan; wring or ring, etc.*** Invaluable reference handbook.
To create an outline: List 20 major scenes that will happen in 20 chapters.
*You need to know long it takes you to write a book before you sign that contract.
Moody Publishers had three of my books released within one year. YIKES.
I have a book due to Whitaker House January 1, 2015. I haven’t started. Another YIKES.
Military bases—ask for the BX Base Exchange vendor manager. Dave Couture and Allen Maki at Scott AFB are very friendly. They charge a commission rate from 12% to 25%. Sign at bases that charge under 20%. If you sell nothing, you pay nothing. To make the most of your time and money, stay all day to catch the morning, lunch, afternoon and then after work crowd.
Social networking: There are all kinds of writing groups on FB. Beware, the moderators want you to be active and do more than promote your book. There is also LinkedIn where I found librarians; Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs, etc. St. Louis Black authors collective on FB
*Check out my blog: http://conventionnotes.blogspot.com/
*Literary conferences—always look at the workshops that are being offered.
There are conferences for every genre.
Social networks: Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
Promotional items: postcards: I use Next Day Flyers, use promo code
Ink pens: http://www.amsterdamprinting.com/
Search for great deals by Googling “cheap”.
Two people known in the industry for promoting authors:
LaShaunda Hoffman. Shades of Romance Magazine, promotes more than romance in eblasts. She also does online conferences. Reach her at email@example.com
Ella Curry, EDC Creations: blog tours online and promotions. She also hosts BAN (Black Author Network) blogtalk radio shows. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DO NOT use your mother, cousin or friend to give you the final edit. Most writers, especially newbies, need a developmental editor, line editor, and proof reader.
Every editor and publisher is different. Always ask for a free sample. Lately, I’ve used *Fiveer.com, which will become your BEST friend on a budget. Most are professionals and freelances that offer great services on covers, formatting and promotions, starting at $5.
Beware before hiring any type of editors. Make sure they live within the US. Otherwise, you’ll get someone who will edit in the Queen’s English. Such examples are honor vs. honour; recognise vs. recognize.
My first freelance editor was REALLY big on using repetitious words (she smiled, he smiled, they smiled—use a thesaurus).This same editor wouldn’t give me a break on weak chapter endings. I groan.
· When I was with Moody Publishers, I noticed the editor was big on transition from one paragraph to another. The flow was seamless. I watch for that today.
· My editor at Whitaker Publisher is really big on timelines, no jumping back and forth, such as a party in June, then going back to an Easter church service in April.
Once, I tried a freelance editor and when she got through ripping up my story—mindful after I had already been published with eight plus books—my head was messed up, causing me to doubt myself on that story for almost year until I could clear my head.
Here’s a good article about editing: http://www.bookdaily.com/authorresource/blog/post/1576449
· Secure an agent, which isn’t an easy task. Use Writer’s Market Handbook, attend conferences, and check out blogs. My agency has a blog that gives readers tips. http://www.chipmacgregor.com/
· Get noticed by publishing eBooks. One indie author success story is Bella Andre who earns $20,000 a month.
Wake up your characters in your head. Most of the time they come alive when you’re about to go to sleep. Take the time and joint notes.
Ask them questions: Sara, your mother just died. How do you feel?
Dave, you just got a promotion. How are you going to celebrate?
Girl, your boyfriend cheated on you. What’s your game plan for revenge?
If you start asking your characters questions, you are forcing them to answer.
Look for my Christmas novella: CHRISTMAS GREETINGS Thanksgiving Day.
Friday, October 10, 2014
#19. We’re killing ourselves to meet those deadlines.
One common excuse I have when trying to meet deadlines is I can’t stop to eat, wash clothes or clean my house, and the big one is to exercise. Despite being a snack addict, I’ll be the first to admit that weigh gain isn’t an issue for me. When I listened to the workshop FIT TO BE TIED TO YOUR DESK from this past year’s RWA, I realized that it’s not the eating at our desk that kills us, it’s being at our desk. For some of us, we’re sitting 8-10 plus hours a day, tapping away.
The presenter, Angie, used to work with Weightwatchers. She says everyone needs a good cardio workout for 30 to 60 minutes a day. Sounds good, but I don’t feel I can spare that amount of time to walk the neighborhood with my husband or go to the gym.
However, sitting at our desks disrupts our blood flow and slows down our metabolism, which could cause a Writer’s Block. Okay, I’m a not a doctor, although I did pay medical claims decades ago, but this isn’t my diagnosis. I’m just highlighting some of my notes from the class. With our legs bent for long periods of time, the blood can’t flow to our brain, causing a lack of oxygen, which will result in headaches and exhaustion. Yep, I’ve been there!
So according to Angie, our problems can be solved by putting into place some easy tasks:
· Take a 5 minute break to exercise for every one hour we write. Stand up and stretch to energize our creative juices. Angie says walk around the block, run up and down the stairs—do something. I started jumping rope in my basement (yes, I have high ceilings). When asked which she prefers, the treadmill or the elliptical machine, hands down Angie likes the elliptical machine for full body workout.
· Every 2 days, add one minute to the 5 minute regimen to build up to that 60 minute workout.
· Prepare your snacks in advance before you write. Angie says always add some protein with your veggies.
I have implemented the jump rope a couple times a day and running down my stairs for any excuse, but only after I finish a scene, which could take 60 to 90 minutes or longer. Hey, it’s a start.
What I really found informative was the pre-made snacks. Well, that’s it for now. I guess I better go jump rope before I start my writing marathon.
I hope this has been a blessing to you until next time.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
#18. Are you where you’re supposed to be?
We’ve all heard that Smashwords is the one-stop shop for eBook authors. Well…almost except they don’t have inroads with Amazon and Googlebooks.
But there is one more place that is gaining speed in the eBook industry. At Penned Con, Mark Coker (Smashwords) said—and other have agreed—that Scribd.com’s subscription service will be just as popular with eBook as Netflix has been with movies. Really?
Authors have two choices to have books listed on Scribd.com. Here’s the link about information on their subscription service for authors to upload their eBooks directly. Am I the only one coming to the table late on this?
Of course, if you’re not a do-it-yourselfer than besides Smashwords, you can also go through Scribd’s other publishing partners—as they call themselves—INscribed Digital, BookBaby, or Draft2Digital. I briefly checked out these sites to find out what was it going to cost me and how much they were going to pay me. I noticed they were not all the same except when it came time to release payment…still quarterly. I should mention another site that seems to becoming popular is Bublish.com Mind you, in the world of eBooks, you can’t leave any stone unturned. Our books have to be EVERYWHERE, but are you ready for the subscription concept? You have your homework assignment, now get to researching!
I hope this post have been a blessing.
Here’s a little inspiration today:
Thursday, October 2, 2014
#17. The plot thickens. With all the conferences I’ve attended this year, I can’t remember where this latest tidbit came from, but the concept is worth exploring. One presenter suggested clashing two different story plots into one book. My first response was yeah, right. Once she explained the process, I thought, hmm—why not. If—a big if—I could make it work, the idea would enrich my story line and keep my readers guessing.
For example, you’re struggling to build a story line with a recently widowed mother of two children with no job. Now, I know this is not going to make sense, but why not introduce a whistle blower with a company allegedly responsible for toxic waste. One idea seems like the making of a romance story; the other sounds like a suspense in the making. So how would you piece those two completely different scenarios or genres into one story? The possibility is endless. What the presenter was trying to accomplish was to make us dig deeper to develop our story lines.
I hope this sparks ideas for the story you’re about to write.
BTW, WHAT GOD HAS FOR ME is out!
Friday, September 19, 2014
#16. Audio books, books on tape. Audible, ACX.
It seems like I couldn’t escape this topic from three of the conferences I attended: RWA, Penned Con and RT Booklovers Convention. Folks are calling audio books the new black, which is the latest trend that is helping indie authors earn, I’m told 5 times more $$ than eBooks. One author said her audio sales made up 25% of her monthly income. Plus, ACX has a bounty program, which basically pays a $50 bonus per new readers who sign up for ACX club membership as a result of wanting to download your book. If you sign exclusively with ACX, which distributes to Amazon and iTunes, your monthly royalty is 40%. Otherwise, your royalty would be 25% to sell it elsewhere.
Here are some notes from RWA. Self-publishing authors are using ACX and Audicle.com ( I think thery are the same thing). The current stats show listeners are downloading 18 audio books a year. KDP has a program called Whispersync for Voice-ready, which means if your eBook is also an audio book, readers can seamlessly switch between eReader and audio books without skipping a beat, page or chapter to finish your novel. Neat!
According to authors on the panel, you don’t want anybody narrating your masterpiece. As a matter of fact, most voice-over talents are particular about the projects they take on. If you aren’t selling well on Amazon, the narrator may not want to invest the time in a project that “isn’t going anywhere”. They also want to advance their careers. You also are not limited to the pool on ACX. You can reach out to actors and ask to hear their audition tape. If they aren’t on ACX, they can apply. You create a profile, which will include an excerpt of what you want them to read. For a sample audition script, one author suggested picking a conversation between a man and woman, a critical scene and listen how the narrator differentiates the characters. Make sure the narrator has the personality of your characters, is a storyteller and can pronoun the names correctly, even your name.
You can do a 50/50 split with the narrator (from everyone I’ve spoken with this isn’t recommended), but you wouldn’t be out of any $$, but it supposedly limits your chances of finding somewhere to audition. If you’re willing to pay the flat fee—a lot of authors go this route at first, you might get more bites. There was mention of Audible paying an additional $400 pre-finished hour for the 50/50 option—but you better check on the details. Narrators will line up to record your story based on YOUR ratings on Amazon—I noticed it was based on your print rankings, not eBook.
Okay, so how much $$ are we talking about per finished hour (90,000 word novel takes about 10 hours). Typical hourly rate is based on 9300 words to one finished hour. You determine how much you are willing to play. It could vary from $100-$300, especially if you use union actors. Lastly, there was discussion of how to market them. One author had a website page that listed her audio books page with sound clips. She said that helped sales, because it gave people an opportunity to test and sample the audiobooks. Oh yeah, you can also run a contest where you could give-away 25 free download with a code, and the best part is you still get paid royalty on that.
So, I decided to test the market and I went on ACX.com, and did the whole profile thing. I picked a novella, which had shorter word count. I offered to pay $100-$200 an hour and picked an excerpt with three people in the scene. I offered $100 to $200 an hour to see if I would get any bites. The profile calculated it would take the narrator (they call it producer), 3.5 hours to finish THE KEEPSAKE (34,000 novella)I hope this post has been a blessing. Feel free to share.
Monday, September 15, 2014
#15. This is a switch. Can you imagine agents/publishers chasing after you to offer you a book deal? This really does happen. If you have never heard of international bestselling author Bella Andre, my first question is, where have you been? Before I met this indie author at RWA, I read about her success. She brings in $20,000 a month—no exaggeration. This woman is so bad that she had licensed the rights to a publisher to her print books while retaining her eBook rights, which garner hundreds of reviews. “Wow.”
Another super star (my description only, she would deny it) is NYT bestselling author Colleen Hoover who I met this past weekend at Penned Con. She did the exact same thing with one of her eBooks, licensing her rights on a print book. My mouth dropped and my eyes blurred when I saw several of her books with 1,000 plus reviews. Really? I thought only James Patterson and a handful of others hit the 1,000 and 2,000 reviews mark. I’m still trying to get to one-hundred on one of my eleven novels and twelve novellas. Okay, what is their secret? Write a good book, build a street team and promote. Colleen told me when she was an indie author; she is now a hybrid (traditionally published and self-published), the publishers came after her because her eBooks were doing so well, which basically meant, she had a fan base that posted reviews. These two are proof indie authors can be a force to reckon with.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
#14. A big draw for me is the research folder where I have placed info needed about my character’s occupation, lifestyle, etc. There is also an option that will help you set writing goals. I wouldn’t suggest trying this program in the middle of a project. But I think this might work for me. I’ll continue to add scenes and dialogue, then next week, I’ll begin to write. Let’s see if I can make my deadline!
I hope this post has been a blessing.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
#13. Street Teams
Hello all. Every author needs a support system. For me, I started the Guilty captains when my Jamieson Legacy novels were released. At the time, I had nine women from across the county who volunteered to take an active role to help advance my writing career. Fast forward two years later, one woman remains my sidekick: Mia Harris, or Mia Daniel on FB. She really is an author’s best friend. I asked her what she thought was the most important thing for a street team, and here was her response for the author:
Get the word out without expense.
Get people involved.
Get involved on social media
What I learned from a workshop at RWA. Mobilize your street team with:
1. Chapter Reveals—give them a tease
2. Contest—offer weekly prizes
3. Build anticipation, give direct links to all retails that offer pre-orders
4. Eliminate friction among the group
5. Give incentives for positive actions
6. Super fans will convince their friends to read your books
7. Smashwords has coupons for you to use for pre-order receipts
8. List your street team under the acknowledgement section in your books
9. Give your street team a list with a deadline to complete the tasks
10. In the end, many people on your street team aren’t there for the give-a-ways. They support you because of what you write***
I’m guilty of #9. In the past, the only thing I asked of my Guilty captains was to post a review when my book was released and to help pass out postcards. Last weekend, I asked members of my FB steam team to post, with the Amazon link, their favorite book that I had written. Of course not everyone did, but it was fun to see which book each reader enjoyed. I would thank them and then share their link on my wall with a shout out to them. One strange thing happened. A friend of one reader replied that Christian fiction wasn’t her cup of tea and why should she read Guilty of Love. I replied, posted the synopsis. The woman agreed to give me a try. How cool was that? I had performed #6 from the above list without realizing it.
I hope this tip has been a blessing to you. Believe it or not, I’m attending another conference—if the Lord wills—this week. I’ll have notes from there.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
#12. Getting eBooks sales at book signings.
One thing I don’t want to hear when I’m at a book event is, “I read all my books on Kindle now,” especially when I have 50+ books sitting on my table to sell. Masking my disappointment, I give them a postcard that lists my eBooks and tell them, “I’ll still get credit if you download, so please support me.”
“I sure will,” is the usual response.
Unfortunately, when I get home and review my sales report for eBooks, I find only a few follow through that first week or even by the second week. One reason could be out of sight, out of mind.
There has to be an incentive for a reader to download your eBook on the spot. I’ve been pondering a solution for that a while now. At this year’s RT Booklovers Convention, I was introduced to a service that allows authors to autograph their eBook covers on eReaders without leaving any permanent marks and the signature will only show up on the screen when that eBook cover is displayed. I haven’t investigated it for myself, but I’ve seen other authors use it with ease. Check out http://www.authorgraph.com. Another option I learned about from author Paris Love at the National Black Book Club Conference is Book stubs. It looks like a playing card with the book cover on the front and its QR code on the back for the reader to scan to download the book. The author could sell the card, say for $5.00, and the readers can download the book at any time. You’ve made a sale!! You can also use it for free download promotions. Of course, you would have to work the logistics of it, but I did a little research into this promotion, and this isn’t cheap. Check out this blog for more information: http://www.yukionnapublishing.com/blog/2013/06/26/Promoting-Your-Book-with-Book-Stubs-A-DIY-Guide.aspx. Thanks, Paris Love, for sharing! Until Next time, I hope this information has been blessing.
Monday, August 25, 2014
#11. What’s happening at the libraries? But first, I’ve reached out to Kiffer Brown who taught the workshop on +1 and she agreed to answer questions for the blog. I wanted to make sure I am as accurate as possible on these important tools for authors that I am sharing, so I’m waiting for her responses.
At Romance Slam Jam (RSJ 2014), I sat in on a workshop entitled Romance Readers Advisory: A Librarian Prospective with LaToya Devezin. She said the top African-American romance genres checked out at her New Orleans branch was urban fiction, Christian fiction and erotica. YA, graphic novels and paranormal also made the list. She also mentioned Overdrive.org—the first time I heard about this. It’s an electronic catalog system where library patrons can borrow eBooks. So I logged onto http://overdrive.slcl.org to see if any of my books showed up from my previous publishers—none at my public library. But on a main database, I did see all three novels from Moody. You can check to see if any of your eBooks under emedia at your local library. So now I’m thinking, why not try to get some of my self-published titles on Overdrive? But author BEWARE. My understanding is you sell one copy of your eBook for $2.99 to a library. That one copy can be download unlimited times from the library. According to a local librarian, this is the way for new authors to get noticed. Since you don’t earn royalties when someone checks out your eBook, you might not be worth it to you, or you might want to look at it as a promotion. Either way, now you know something I didn’t, or maybe you already knew and can add to the conversation. Feel free. I hope this post has been a blessing to you.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
I heard about pre-orders from Mark Coker and his assistant, Jim Azeveo, at the RT Booklovers Convention, Romcon, and RWA. I spoke with both of them one-on-one several times.
The concept is not new, because big publishers have done this for years. Indie authors I met said this is where the $$ is. Until last week, Smashwords was the only option for indie authors to upload an eBook for pre-orders.
In the workshop at RT, Mark Coker seemed to be flexible with the “eBook release” date. If the manuscript wasn’t ready, simply push back the date. I could see this backfiring for new authors. However, life happens, and that at times, we have to request an extension.
Mark said the key to success was having the eBook on the pre-order status for as long as possible. Here’s why. Let’s suppose you decide to release an eBook on October 1, 2014. Mark suggests you upload it on August or September 1st because if you generate one pre-order sale a day for 60 days, when that eBook goes live on October 1st, all those 60 orders will be applied on one day and that will immediately boost your sales ranking. Sounds like a plan!
Okay, what happened last week? Amazon jumped on board with pre-order options for indie authors—about time. HOWEVER, they have stricter guidelines. The most important one is there is no flexibility on delivery date. If I say my book will be ready on October 1st, I can’t push it back, regardless of any unforeseen circumstances. If I don’t deliver it on that date, Amazon will suspend me from the pre-orders program for one year. Yikes. That is a serious offense.
So I uploaded TALK TO ME with the same discount price. When I listed my September 2, 2014, release date, Amazon sent me a notice that my final manuscript must be to them by 8/23/2014. These people are serious. Although, I can’t see where I’ve generated any pre-sales, I did make ranking yesterday, but it’s gone today.
So there you have it on what I’ve learned about pre-orders at the conferences. FYI, Apple and Google Books also have pre-order programs. The key is to have it on pre-orders as early as possible—the longer, the better—but you have to deliver. Make sure your eBook is almost done before you sign on to this commitment.
Next up is #11. Why Google+ is the new Black (I’m trying to reach the workshop speaker to send me one or two highlights), if not, I’ll talk about street teams—my notes from RWA and an actual reader. Until then, I hope this has been a blessing.
Friday, August 15, 2014
#9. Free means $$. I decided after some recent announcements from KDP (Kindle), I should discuss FREE TIPS before I tackle PRE-ORDER TIPS. So here we go. I’ve been hearing the word “FREE” for years and until I attended Romcon in Denver, I really didn’t know how to go about it without enrolling in KDP Select—again, which I tried years ago without any success. I don’t like the idea of Amazon having exclusive rights to my book and lose $$ by removing them on other sites. However, the author at Romcon shared how I could get around it by using Smashwords to offer the first eBook in my Guilty series to all channels. I groaned. Not that dreaded Smashwords formatting—no! So I turned to Bookaholic on www.Fiveer.com, and my problem was solved!! Thanks to author Tiffany Warren who reminded me about Fiveer.com for covers.
I think this is Bookaholic’s direct link: http://www.fiverr.com/bookaholic/format-your-ebook-for-smashwords-to-pass-autovetter?funnel=201408151242529417459640. She’s done 1722 formats.
Thanks to her, I uploaded GUILTY OF LOVE to Smashwords with ease. Within minutes, readers began to download it before I could even announce it on social media. So to date, here are my stats now after 10 days of being FREE on Smashwords, I had 600+ DOWNLOADS from readers and 27 DOWNLOADS from the library. I thought that was decent, considering those were 600 readers, giving me a try.
Next, I notified Amazon that GUILTY OF LOVE was FREE through Smashwords and could they match it. I was told they would look into it. After about a week of “looking into it”, GUILTY OF LOVE was available on Kindle for FREE. Look at my stats in just 5 days: More than 4200 FREE DOWNLOADS---wow. That’s 4200 readers that have never read me before. GUILTY OF LOVE will be Free until 8/24/2014. I’m hoping to get to 10,000 readers before then. Although it is slowing up.
Okay, I’m sure you’re wondering about how my other books in the series are doing. After all, that is why I’m doing this promotion.
· Here is GUILTY OF LOVE: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
· NOT GUILTY OF LOVE: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,294 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
· STILL GUILTY: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,792 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
· THE ACQUITTAL: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,367 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Thanks to different keywords (from one of my earlier TIPS), I ranked in different categories.
Not only that, Digitalbooktoday.com contacted me and advised that GUILTY OF LOVE was on their website and invited me to be a featured author because of my ranking on Amazon. Free eBookDaily.com also had me listed. Wow, now that’s more FREE promotion that I didn’t count on. Look at Jesus as my church folks say.
I’m watching to see in my sales will go into triple digits on each one and earn more reviews. I’ll keep you posted.
In case you want to download GUILTY OF LOVE while it’s free, here’s the LINK: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L9EGLEA?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B00L9EGLEA&linkCode=xm2&tag=autpatsim-20.
So, as you can see, FREE has exposed me to new readers, only time will tell if those readers will become fans who buy the rest of my books. I hope this post has helped to bless someone’s business.
Stay tuned, in Tip #10, I will talk about my experience with pre-orders.