FREE WORKSHOP FOR WRITERS THIS SATURDAY, ATLANTA SOUTH-EAST

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Hi Folks!

Come listen to me, and three great ladies, speak at the Stonecrest Library this Saturday afternoon. I’ve detailed below the Who, What, Where, Why and When.

I’ll be going over the three marketing budgets included in our book, 100 Small Fires To Make Your Book Sales BLAZE!, and will discuss marketing tips and tricks for small, medium and large budgets.

Don’t worry, attending the workshop is definitely in your budget, not matter what its size as… it’s FREE!

Looking forward to seeing you there!

TK

BTW, if you haven’t heard, the Second Edition of 100 Small Fires is out in paperback, and is a perfect Christmas gift for all the writers on your list. At $7.99 it won’t set your budget back either.

Find it here:

100 Small Fires at Amazon

WRITERS, READERS, AND EVERYONE ELSE!

WHAT: *The Ups and Downs of Writing Children’s Books
A Workshop For Childrens Book Authors (And Everyone Else)*
WHEN: DECEMBER 12/12/2015, BETWEEN 1pm and 3:00
WHERE: Stonecrest Library, 3123 Klondike Rd, Lithonia, GA 30038
Phone:(770) 482-3828
WHO: WORKSHOP SPEAKERS: Connie Fleming, Nancy Craddock, Lynn Coulter and TK Read

SPEAKER/TOPIC: Connie Fleming: Walking on the Edge: Conflict in Children’s Writing
ABOUT CONNIE:
A former UCR Crime Analyst with Georgia Bureau of Investigation, she now spends her days, and nights writing, illustrating, and speaking at schools, libraries and churches. Into every life must come some conflict. And no story is complete without it. Learn how to insert the right amount of tension to move your story forward.
As a very health-conscious senior adult she also writes about wiping out obesity, with a healthy dose of her own brand of humor and Christian wisdom.
Her website is http://cmfleming.com/ and her weight-loss blog can be found at http://theacceptablesin.blogspot.com/

SPEAKER/TOPIC: Nancy Craddock: Warnings from a Self-Pubbed Author
If you’re thinking about self-publishing, you can save yourself a lot of angst (and money) from someone who did it all wrong!
ABOUT NANCY:
Feeling as if she’s always been peering over the top of an open book, Nancy is a keen observer of life. Each chapter of her own life has been centered around books, schools and libraries. As a child, Nancy’s happiest days were either playing “school” or “library” with a neighborhood friend. As an adult, she’s diligently worked to foster a life-long love of books in elementary students from Baton Rouge, LA and Houston, TX, to Atlanta, GA. Whether her students were a diverse group in a inner-city school, wealthy children of cattle barons or the sons and daughters of hard-working middle class parents in the suburbs, Nancy learned that shared laughter is always a unifying factor in any classroom and a humorous children’s book was never far from her reach.
Writing contests, magazine articles and hand-written notes, emails and long distant phone calls from editors will always be a thrill but Nancy is quick to say that she gauges her success by timid youngsters who’s whose eyes barely meet hers when they say “I like your book” at various book events. That is all the proof she needs to know her life has been, and continues to be, the most fabulous fairy tale she could ever imagine. Her website is www.nancycadlecraddock.com

SPEAKER/TOPIC: Lynn Coulter: Make Money By Writing Nonfiction
Even if your goal is to publish a novel, you can earn money writing nonfiction books and articles while you work on it. The Web, for example, consumes enormous amounts of information, and someone has to write that content. Why shouldn’t it be you? Learn how to break into print and digital publications for children and adults with freelancer and author Lynn Coulter.
ABOUT LYNN:
Lynn Coulter writes for HGTVGardens.com.

She’s also a freelancer with a B.A. in Journalism and the author of 3 books: Gardening with Heirloom Seeds; Mustard Seeds: Thoughts on the Nature of God and Faith (Publisher’s Weekly starred review); and Little Mercies: Celebrating God’s Everyday Grace and Goodness. Lynn has served as a contributing editor for Delta Sky and U.S. Airways Magazine, and she’s written for Ranger Rick, Southern Living, Jack and Jill, Delta’s Sky 4 Kids, Pockets, The Home Depot Garden Club, Southern Living, AAA Traveler and other publications. Currently she’s writing a novel for middle-grade readers with the help of her loyal office assistants/rescue dogs, Miss Paws and Molly. Her website is www.LynnCoulter.com.

SPEAKER/TOPIC:
TK Read: Light Fires Beneath Your Book Sales
Whether you’re self-pubbed, indie-pubbed, or traditionally pubbed, you need to market your book to make sure your sales soar! Learn promotion tips and tricks, and the best place to put your marketing efforts and dollars from TK. We’ll go over promotion ideas for small, medium, and large budgets!
ABOUT TK:
TK is an attorney by day and a writes in the wee hours of the morning. She downs coffee and chocolate, and pens young adult thrillers and middle grade fantasies. A life-long student, she also signs up for every class she can fit in her schedule – that way when her teens are going on-and-on about their tough courses, she can match them moan-for-moan. TK co-authored the book, 100 Small Fires to Make Your Book Sales Blaze! with her marketing whiz sister, Kathleen Vrona. You can check the book out at www.100smallfires.com and TK out at www.tkread.com.

** This event is free to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
**THIS EVENT IS SPONSORED BY THE SOCIETY OF CHILDREN’S BOOK WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS (SCBWI.ORG)

Weeeee’re Back! It’s Our Annual Book Give away! Get it for Free 3/7 to 3/18!

Authors! To honor Springmingle (Southern Breeze’s spring writing conference), we will be giving away our marketing book, 100 Small Fires to Make Your Book Sales BLAZE!, for FREE between 3/14 and 3/18. Simply go to Amazon in that time period and download! The book has marketing tips with timelines and budgets for both self pubbed and traditionally pubbed authors.

On a related note, if you are an author with a marketing tip that worked for you and you care to share, email me (tk.read@yahoo.com). We will be pubbing a Second Edition this summer and we may include a cite to you and your amazing idea, AND (drum roll, please)… a link to your author page!

Please share this post with anyone and everyone. For more info check out the link below.

http://www.amazon.com/Marketing-Selling-Including-Time-Lines-ebook/dp/B00A9GHI6Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354206189&sr=8-1&keywords=100+small+fires

Tootles!

For more on Springmingle, check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/896498903723414/

2014 MARKETING PREDICTION TAKE-AWAYS FOR BOOK AUTHORS

When you’re a marketer, you have your own perception of time – you’re always seeing ahead, and trying to sell people what they don’t need today or tomorrow, but what they’ll need months from now. In today’s climate, book authors are marketers too, and need to incorporate these strategies in their marketing platforms.

Fact: This year, Target, BJs and other major retail stores put out their first glossy Xmas advertising circulars, BEFORE Halloween.

Fact: This year, marketing pundits began touting trends for 2014, BEFORE the school year started in some states.

Let’s look at some of these projections to see what we can take-away so we can hit the ground running in 2014.

EXPLOSION INTO SOCIAL MEDIA:

Use of social media and interactive marketing has moved from a little something extra to a mandatory component of every marketing campaign. Some current predictions tag social media campaigns as the major component of next year’s marketing budget.

Take-away: You can no longer put-off building your social media platform. Establish a presence on at least three social media sites, say Facebook, Pinterest and Google+, NOW!

BOOM IN MICRO-VIDEO:

As pointed out by several pundits, our society is becoming less and less patient, so much so that today’s social media sound bites are being replaced by their younger, quicker cousins. Twitter’s Vine and Instagram’s video sharing feature are examples of the move from 120 character posts to sentence bites and from three minute Youtube videos to 15 seconds video bullets.

Take-way: You have less time to capture your audience and sell your product.

EMERGENCE/DOMINATION OF GOOGLE+:

Citing the tremendous growth in user numbers, the pundits state 2014 is the year Google+ emerges as either a serious contender to Facebook or becomes the market dominator.

Take-way: Get on Google+ NOW! If you are already on it, update and upgrade your presence.

In contrast, according to Statista*, Facebook is the primary driver of website traffic to publishers, with Pinterest a not very close second, Twitter a distant third, and Google+ last behind LinkedIn. This obvious disconnect between future predictions and the current reality may be connected to the belief that Google should be able to figure out how to get Google+ members clicking on content.

BACKLASH TO NON-DIGITAL MARKETING AND PRODUCTS:

In an A Sneak Peek at 2014 Marketing Trends and Other Hot Topics from the Marketing Forum Conference, Forbes Contributor Kimberly Whitler cites from two conference speakers regarding some trends showing consumer backlash in response to over-digitalization.

– There is a movement away from digital purchases to buy original products, like vinyl records and old cars. Rohit Bhargava, www.15trends.com.

– The importance of non-digital word of mouth (WOM) marketing. For WOM marketing to work, you must have a credible social component that motivates consumers to share. Example, Oscar Meyer’s “Baconbarter” campaign where comedian Josh Senkey used bacon to barter for his travel across the US.

For every movement, there is a counter-movement, and one where the nostalgia for the “good old days,” when people talked directly to each other instead of tweeting or texting or emailing, has gathered momentum. Henry Grabar, a columnist for Salon.com who writes about how technological innovation impacts urban development, says, “In situations where politeness and concentration are expected, backlash is mounting against our smartphones.” According to Grabar, people have begun to carve out spaces and events as wire-free zones and activities.

Take-way: Tap into readers’ increasing nostalgia by publishing your Ebook as print book too. Do it, NOW! With print-on-demand there’s little-to-no associated cost. Establish incentives for readers to share in your marketing. For example, have a buy-one- get-one-free- to- share campaign that rewards readers when they give away copies of your book. Create social component marketing by supporting causes you believe in with free books for giveaways, or other donated items. Do not undervalue the personal touch in your marketing efforts.

More-than-ever, we live in a world with 24/7 social contact and marketing opportunities. Writers can light a fire under their personal brand by dedicating some time every day on marketing, with emphasis on social media, while not neglecting their home base and WOM marketing. By examining trends in media dominance, writers can choose where to spend their time so that they reap the biggest pay-off.

Incorporate a few of the suggestions made here to help ensure your success in 2014!

For more reading, click below:

http://get-susan.com/2013/10/22/social-media-marketing-trends-to-watch-out-for-in-2014/

The Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014, Jayson Demers, Contributor.

Social Marketing Trends to Watch in 2014, Chris McMurphy.

A Sneak Peek at 2014 Marketing Trends and Other Hot Topics from the Marketing Forum Conference, Kimberly Whitler.

Pinterest Drives More Traffic to Publishers than Twitter, Felix Richter.

Smart Phones Are Killing Us — And Disrupting Public Life, Henry Grabar.

Pitch Perfect

More stories from the front lines of book marketing!  In this blog entry, we are going to share our experience getting reviews for our book “100 Small Fires to Make Your Book Sales Blaze” and how we crafted a creative “pitch” to get reviewers attention.  We will break down the actual pitch e-mail we used and one Top 100 Amazon Reviewers response to our solicitation.  Here’s a hint:  the reviewer liked our pitch enough to comment on it in the actual book review!

First however, we want to make an important, and often overlooked, point about reviews.  Most blogs/book marketing experts cover the basics when expounding on this subject.  They will tell you that book reviews are important to [inexpensively] build buzz and awareness for your book as well as to help customers make decisions when presented with similar choices.  All true.  But what most articles covering this topic don’t tell you is something we learned during the research for our book; book reviews are also needed to leverage some key marketing opportunities.  For example, to get your book listed on the “Top 100 Best Free Kindle Books” list (a promotional opportunity you can use during your Kindle FREE days promotion) you need a minimum of 13+ reviews and a 4.0 rating on Amazon.

Now back to the original point; how did we use a creative pitch to get our book noticed by some of Amazons Top Reviewers? (Note: you can find the list of reviewers at http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers)

We started with an attention grabbing headline.  Soliciting a review is similar to making a pitch to the media.  You need to capture their attention, their imagination, or even their sympathies.  We went for all three!

Here is the attention grabbing proclamation we used in the e-mail subject line for the pitch that grabbed the attention of one Amazon reviewer:

The future of literature is in your hands…..no kidding

Dramatic?  Yes, but that’s sort of the point.  We wanted the headline to suggest a higher purpose for book reviews.  Yes, it’s a dramatic way of conveying the idea that book reviews play a critical role in the success of a book, but we truly believe that reviewers can have a big impact.  If you are authentic and passionate in your appeal, then a bit of drama may just hit the mark. The key is to strike the right balance.

Now, lets take a close look at the body of the pitch e-mail. We added comments below {in red} to highlight some of the key points/strategies we used in the pitch.

Our e-mail opened with what we hoped was a thought provoking quote that again, suggested a higher purpose for book reviews.

“The future of literature is in the ability of authors to promote themselves and their books…otherwise, we will be subjected to whatever literature the Big Six publishing houses deem good for our health”….Kathleen Vrona

Hello (book reviewer name);

I got your name from the list of Amazon Top Reviewers….of course.  And I must say your rating system is a bit intimidating (and the fact that you have degrees in Astronomy and CS)….but here goes anyway. {make sure to read the reviewers bio, interests, and review policy.  Then call out something that’s relevant to you or your pitch and let them know you took the time to read their information}

As an avid reader (and intellect), you are someone who cares about good literature therefore, I’m hoping you will review my book “100 Small Fires to Make Your Book Sales Blaze….”   Now HEAR ME OUT ON THIS before you hit the delete key!  {a little begging never hurt}

You know how hard it is for new authors to get noticed…that’s why they desperately send e-mails to strangers similar to this one. {try a little humor too in your pitch}

But those poor authors books will never see the light of day unless my book sees the light of day.  Such is the irony of book marketing.  {blatant appeal to the reviewers sympathies? You bet.  Again, be authentic.  T.K and I wrote this book because we don’t want to see good books go unnoticed at the same time that Snooki’s life story is a best seller. So, we channeled this passion and leveraged as an angle to get the reviewers attention}

You see, my book is called “100 Small Fires to Make Your Book Sales Blaze…” and it offers 100 powerful ideas for marketing/promoting a book written by someone who markets for a Fortune 100 company…that someone is me.  In addition to being a marketing expert, however, I am also a book lover who wants new authors to have a chance to get their “masterpieces” noticed.  {in our book “100 Small Fires” we talk about using your story as part of the pitch if there is something in your background that is unique and relevant.  We used the fact that I’m I’m a professional marketer and T.K. is a writer and together, we created a unique view of book marketing not found in other books covering this topic}

It’s a tough market out there and authors need to use the latest marketing tactics to build awareness for their books.  I was helping my sister market her first book and noticed that most book marketing self-help tomes were written by writers, not professional marketers.  This book is different and offers really creative ideas for authors but will never be found by the ones who need it most unless I can get reviews. So there is the irony: this book will help authors escape from obscurity and oblivion but will fall into obscurity and oblivion before it can be of any help to anyone if it isn’t reviewed. 

Please let me know if you are interested in reading our book (co-authored by my sister, the real writer in the family) and providing a review on Amazon.  I will follow up promptly with a complimentary copy to your e-mail box.  {be specific in your request}

If you are interested, you can find more information at 100smallfires.com

Or check out the book on Amazon here  http://tinyurl.com/ak5boab {make sure to use a service like Tiny URL or Bitly to shorten the link to your Amazon page}

Thanks in advance for your kind consideration….Sincerely, Kathleen Vrona (hailing from KY, the land of horses, The Kentucky Derby, bourbon whiskey and Louisville Slugger bats)  {humanize your approach and add something personal about yourself so your pitch doesn’t sound like a form letter.  Amazon reviewers often share personal details about themselves in their Amazon profiles.  You should do the same}

Below is the response we got from one Amazon Top Reviewer who received the review request above.  This is an excerpt from the actual review. To see the full review, go to http://tinyurl.com/ak5boaband look for the review by E. A. Lovitt.

 

……The wave has arrived and those of us who want our books read and admired need to figure out how to make them float to the top where they will be noticed by the reading public. “100 Small Fires to Make Your Book Sales BLAZE!” is the lifebelt your book will need in this strange and scary new world of warp-speed publishing…….

……I was hoping to publish my novel and let it float to the top on its own merits, but as one of Amazon’s top 100 reviewers I already knew that wasn’t going to work even before I read ‘100 Small Fires.’ I get multiple requests for reviews every day from authors who want to publicize their new books. (By the way, Vrona and Read wrote one of the best review requests I’ve ever received). How am I going to compete with the other new authors for readers? ‘100 Small Fires’ answers that question, but it involves lots of hard work–maybe more work than it took to write my book in the first place……

 

Ok, full disclosure time.  We are just getting starting in our effort to seek reviews.  As of the date we published this blog article, we only had 8 reviews.  But we got really excited with this early success so we wanted to share it with you.  While we may not be “pitch perfect” yet, the review above tells us that we hit the right note with this pitch.

Check in with us later this month when we will be blogging about how we leveraged our FREE DAYS promotion to get over 800 downloads of our book in two days.

 

Whew! We got there!

100SMALLFIFRESCREATSPACEcoverfinal

Spouses, siblings, parents, significant others of writers or anyone within six degrees of a writer, your loved one or friend needs marketing help!

Writers: Are you self-pubbed, indie-pubbed, traditionally-pubbed, crowd-sourced, rock- etched, or hair-woven – news flash – you need marketing help!

Now, the good news…

Marketing help is a few clicks away, and… it won’t break bank.

100 Small Fires to Make Your Book Sales BLAZE! is now in it’s second edition, updated and fully revised, and…

$2.99 for the ebook, or $7.29 for the paperbook; that’s less than a cup of plain Joe from McDonald’s or a super large, super fancy, whatever-your-poison.

Get them here:

eBook:

100 Small Fires eBook at Amazon

Paperback:

100 Small Fires Paperback at Amazon

Happy Holidays!

TK Read

Well, our free days have been a rousing success so far.  Today we’ve been #1 in our category at Amazon, and we’ve got the screen shots to prove it! See one below:

We made it to #1 in our category on Amazon.

We made it to #1 in our category on Amazon.

If you haven’t had a chance to download the book, do it now! Our free days end at midnight Pacific time. See above for the page with the download link.

Visit us later in the week for the strategies we used to get there.

 

YA and MG Authors Should Get Their Game On to Fire-up Book Sales.

With it being Super Bowl Sunday, it’s a great time to discuss the type of games that are relevant to writers.

“Gamification” simply means to make a product or marketing campaign interactive and engaging by adding game design elements to it.  The goal is to create customer engagement in a particular activity, like watching for clues in your book trailer, while winning their loyalty. *The use of games can, but does not have to, include contests and the awarding of prizes; but where you chose to do so, make sure you are not violating any state or federal laws. Generally, you cannot require a purchase to enter such a contest. *

YA or Young Adult is typically (and very loosely) defined as a book whose target market is 11-19 year olds. MG or Middle Grade is generally written for children between 9 and 13. In reality, and as seen by sales for blockbusters like The Hunger Games and the Harry Potter series, all age groups read books written for these markets.  For more on what makes a book YA or MG, read author Joanna Penn’s excellent blog article on the subject here:  http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/01/18/writing-marketing-ya/.

So why should writers for these markets focus their publicity strategies on gamification?

Games are the interaction method of choice for  members of these markets. It’s safe to say that virtually all teens and children in the intended YA and MG markets have been exposed to, own, and/or play video games, computer games, games on their phones or other hand held devices.  Playing interactive games is a huge part of their lives. If you want a sure fire way to attract their attention, you need to gamify your book marketing.

For a great example of the engagement possibilities using gamification to attract middle grade readership, check out Author Sarah Prineas’ best-selling, The Magic Thief series. On her publisher’s book page, you’ll find links that let you explore the book setting through an interactive map, read one of the main’s character’s lost journal entries; obtain a recipe for biscuits eaten in the book, play a game where you learn what animal you’d become by casting a spell from the book, learn about sword fighting, down-load images from the books as your computer wallpaper, and decode ruins for a chance to win an exclusive incentive. Take a look here:  http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/kids/gamesandcontests/features/magicthief/.

Whew! While that seems like a lot, Sarah went even farther in her gamification odyssey, and The Magic Thief has been made into an inter-active online game by Adventure Quest. Find it here: http://sarah-prineas.com/2012/03/magic-thief-event-is-live-at-aq/.  For more on Sarah and her other books read here:  http://sarah-prineas.com/books/the-magic-thief/.

Erin Morgenstern’s best seller, The Night Circus, book launch was accompanied by a free on-line game developed by Failbetter Games. While there has been extensive on-line debate on whether the work should be classified as literary or YA, for our purposes we’re treating  it as YA because it has teen protagonists and is marketed to teenagers and adults. The game involves the books characters and story world. Here’s the link for the game: http://www.nightcircus.co.uk/Home/Auth, and for Erin’s home page, click here:   http://erinmorgenstern.com/about/ .

The game (along with great writing, strong publisher support and host of other factors) was instrumental in pushing The Night Circus to the top. It was a central component of an overall marketing strategy that won Erin’s publisher the “Best Marketing Campaign of the Year Award” from the Book Marketing Society.

If you want to keep abreast of book marketing trends, and gamification ideas, for your own marketing efforts, it pays to review the Book Marketing Society’s monthly awards as well. Start here: http://www.bookmarketingsociety.co.uk/2012/10/winners-announced-for-the/.

You may be thinking, “Hey, I’m not a big publisher. What can I do to bring to gamification into my book marketing?”

Well, formulating your own strategy to engage readers through games doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or time consuming. You can add the interactivity of a game to your Twitter, Facebook and Google+ listings without spending a great deal of money or time.  Here are some examples of how:

–          Run a Tweeting Contest:  Popular Mechanics Magazine recently featured a DVD giveaway where prizes were awarded to the first ten twitter users who posted a particular tweet on a specific date and time.  You too can do this!

–          Add Word Game Challenges to Your Social Media Sites. Run a one week crossword puzzle challenge. Change your profile pic to a shot of a cross word puzzle with a couple of letters already filled in. Make sure the word or phrase is an important one from your book, but not necessarily one that anyone could just guess.  Start an Event Page or comment line where you state your rules for your game, clearly and distinctly, including the number of winners, date and time contest begins and ends. Give clues throughout the week from this page/comment line. Have people email you’re their guesses to your designated email account and award the first so many a prize (bookmarks, magnets, signed copy, etc.).  Be sure to post notices of your contest to your blogs, twitter accounts (using appropriate hash tags), and other social media sites frequented by your readership at least one week before you begin your contest. Also, for the week of your contest, make sure you change your access perimeters to allow the public access to your Facebook or Google+ page so everyone who is interested can enter.

–          Add Free Games to Your Blog and Web Pages. If you have a bit of blog/website administration know-how, you can also add word puzzle games right to your homepage.  Eclipsecrossword allows you to download their crossword puzzle app for inclusion in your website for free. Find it at http://www.eclipsecrossword.com/.  For WordPress users, simply search “puzzles” in the Search Plugins menu and you will find more than a baker’s dozen word games that you can upload to your blog. Find one you like, and with a little imagination you can figure out a way to use it to interact with your visitors.

Now… Three. Two. One!

Go!

Get your game on!

For more ideas using Gamification to fire up your book marketing, you can also buy our book!

100 Small Fires To Make Your Book Sales BLAZE!

Find 100 Small Fires To Make Your Book Sales BLAZE! here:  http://amzn.to/QPEmx7

 

 

We had a launch party. People came!

Every host or hostess has a few minutes of pre-party paranoia. You’ve hustled to lay out a great spread; what if no one shows up? Well, I’m happy to say our self doubts quickly faded thanks to all the great folks who “popped over” to visit with us.

Google Hang-out hosts a maximum of ten participates and at one time we had six on screen. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the sound and video, especially after the initial software snafoos. It took me three computers before I found the one that enabled a hangout without freezing up or crashing. All three were fairly late models too – not more than a year and half – not so old you’d expect problems.

Here’s a shot of my desk top, showing the hang-out set up on my end.

Afterwards, during our post-party debriefing, my sister and I agreed; we’re thoroughly enamoured with Google+ Hangout and can think of all sorts of ways to use it.  Think book club meetings, school visits, writing classes, auction give-aways, and even better, just chatting with your friends or kin (and in some cases your friends who are kin) on the weekend.

We haven’t tested it toe to toe with Skype yet, but that’s definitely going to be up and coming.  Look for more about that later.

Now, about getting 100 Small Fires To Make Your Book Sales BLAZE! into the Kindle Store, we have to sing some praises and throw out some cautionary words. Following the critique group mode for giving criticsm, I’ll start with the good stuff first.  I uploaded the book to KDP at approximately 3:15 am November 18, 2012 and during the Hang-out it went “live” at approximately 3:30 pm.  So, yes, KDP promised 12 hours from click to shelf, and at least from what I can see on the author’s bookshelf, they basically kept that promise.

Cautionary note? There are a couple. First, maybe you are wondering why I chose to publish it at 3:15 am? Maybe  you’re thinking that as a deliberate part of our publicity, I was trying to make the book go live during our party launch. Please be assured that I value my sleep way too much suffer deprivation for a blip on the computer screen.  I started formatting the book for Kindle at 5pm, November 17, 2012 and was still working on it the next day.

With naive optimism, I thought the process might take an hour or two, tops. After all, I’d down loaded Building Your Book for Kindle, the gospel by Amazon on proper formatting. With my Kindle next to my computer, I carefully followed every tenant as though it transversed from a saint’s text to my clacking finger tips. After convering to “web filtered HTM,” I reviewed the work in the web browser and made sure it read correctly before up-loading. It looked fine.  It continued to look just dandy even though it up-loaded wrong.

I revised, up-loaded, found errors, revised… over and over again until my eyes became so strained from looking for problems that did not exist at the Word level, but kept showing up on the test Kindle document, that I literally started seeing double.  That’s when I quit, hit “enter” and let that snaggle-toothed puppy escape to romp through Amazon’s shelves as is.

We had a deadline to meet after all. A pre-planned launch party – people waiting to get the book for reviews, lives to get back to after this crazy week of final edits, additions and revisions. That only barely topped the fact that I was frankly sick of the whole thing by 3:00 am.

Now, the good and bad. Yes, we can make post-publication edits to fix whatever problems still exist after my marathon session last night.  We’re also doubley thankful that although the book went “live” at 3:15 am yesterday, today it’s ranked so low that it’s really hard to find. For those of you who hire professionals for your formatting I’m sure this gap between publication and building rank so you surface in searches and swim to the top of categories is really frustrating. For those of us working on a budget who have to do our own coding, its a small blessing in an over-all frustrating process.

Verdict for us? We’ll hire the pros next time.

Now, back to the party! Since 100 Small Fires To Make Your Book Sales BLAZE! has two authors, we had two party-central locations. One in Atlanta, Georgia and one in Louisville, Kentucky. Here are pictures from both gatherings.

FROM LOUISVILLE’S PARTY WITH KATHLEEN VRONA:

PICS FROM THE ATLANTA LAUNCH PARTY FOR THE BOOK:

Our Book’s Birthday Is Sunday; Help Us Celebrate Our Launch By Entering Below For Our Free Give-aways!

Time has flown since we started working on 100 Small Fires, and it’s almost impossible to believe, but our book’s birthday is this Sunday! In celebration we’ll be giving away books, book swag and a Kindle Fire!  Sunday at 3pm EST at our launch party, we’ll draw two names every ten minutes for an hour, giving away 12 free copies of the book. Finally on  Saturday, March 2, 2013 we’ll have drawings for more free books, bookmarks, posters, and a Kindle Fire! To be eligible to win, you can register by leaving a comment here between now and March 1, 2013.

Now, for the fine print:

–  Only one entry per person;

–  Only one book win per person, but the same person can win both the book and the Kindle Fire!;

–  No purchase necessary to enter;

– Winners will be selected randomly from all entries at the time of selection.

That’s it! Cheers to us and cheers to you!

Now go light some fires under your book sales!

Making a YouTube Video on the Cheap.

As part of the marketing for our new Ebook, 100 Small Fires To Make Your Book Sales BLAZE (for sale November 18th on Amazon), I made a YouTube/Indiegogo video. In keeping with our promise to share the good, the bad and the ugly, below you’ll find exactly what I went through to create Arthur Author’s adventure with 100 Small Fires. Of course, what I’ve written will make a lot more sense if you watch the video first, which you can do here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOBX3HAIfYM&feature=player_detailpage

A couple of things you should know. The marketing for 100 Small Fires To Make Your Book Sales BLAZE, and thus the budget I had to work with on the video, was constrained by my agreement with my sister, Kathleen Vrona, my co-author, to spend as little as possible without embarrasing ourselves.

I think the video achieves this. It is if nothing else, clever and perhaps unintentionally funny in places where it isn’t supposed to be and at a whopping cost of $3.00 undeniably cheap. In short, it’s good, bad and ugly!

Here are the materials (I’ve starred those purchased specifically for the video – the rest were pre-owned):

Lenovo Ideapad Z585 15.6 inch is my laptop. At $500.00 it is a deal and runs memory eating programs like Photoshop with ease;

Nikon D5100 camera with 18-55mm lens (about $600.00);

A black coat of smooth but non reflective material which I draped over a black leather chair to provide a makeship studio setting for taking pictures of Arthur and Reluctant Readers. I took the photos in a dark room at night with one spot light (of the clip on variety) and using the camera flash on portrait mode;

Photoshop for crisping and cropping the photos and changing Arthur’s face when I needed another emotion;

Microsoft Word 10 for writing the script;

Microsoft Power Point 10 for creating the video, using the file “save as video” feature;

*Voice Changer phone app which was downloaded for free and used on my Iphone for recording the script in the different voices;

*Skull Sugar Cookie from Dollar Store for The Ghost of Authors’ Past. Cost – $1.00;

*Skull tombstone to be tomb of authors’ past. Also from Dollar Store;

*Packet of spiderwebs with plastic spiders for ambience. See above for procurement details;

Stack of old books

That’s it. I purchased three things and spent less than $5.00 to make the video. Even if you apportion part of my Photoshop license, which I got on Ebay for $129.00 for the year, that only increases the cost by maybe another $5.00. Maybe.

That’s the good.

Now for the bad.  Since I had a steep learning curve, the entire production took me about 20 hours, including subbing out the turtle voice which I’d orginally used for Arthur’s because it was p-a-i-n-f-u-l-l-y slow, and dragged the whole thing into the death by boredom territory. So, #1 tip on using voice changers for video? Never be tempted by the turtle. Never.

Also, Connie Fleming, my wonderful friend and fellow www.writerandwannabe.com  author, donated the clothespin dolls. This saved me at least a few dollars in supplies and probably another couple of days in time. It also saved us from having a really horrible video, because my concept puppets were hand-drawn faces on popsickle sticks. Not the most appealing little guys.

But, I digress.  Here’s the order of what I did:

1)      Wrote script with help of my partner, my sister

2)      Obtained dolls from the fabulous Connie (did I mention I’m eternally grateful?)

3)      Set up corner of house as studio with coat, chair and light

4)      Took pictures of dolls

5)      Loaded them into computer

6)      Photoshopped

7)      Copied and pasted script into Power Point

8)      Uploaded photos into Power Point

9)      Recorded voices with phone and emailed to self

10)  Uploaded voices into Power Point

11)   Went through production and decided that with turtle voice dragging it down, most people would put it out of its misery rather than watch the whole thing

12)  Re-recorded, emailed and uploaded voices

13)  Re-watched and changed seconds per slide from 5 to 4 to speed it up even more

14)  Recorded as video and emailed to Kathleen

That’s it! Not as bad as it seems. If you’d like to see some of the stills from the video, take a look at page on the blog titled, “Stills From 100SmallFires and Arthur Author And His Book, My Masterpiece.”

Prior to this week the only experience I had in Photoshop was making our book cover. See our archives for more on that. However, that was easy peasy compared to changing Arthur’s face.  I actually had to watch some “how to” Photoshop videos to figure it out. So I Googled, and then picked my candidates based on the least amount of time each professed to take to teach me what I needed to know.

My experience in Power Point was ancient history, but I found that much easier to pick up as I went along.  No instructional videos required.

Now, about the sound quality. Yeah, it basically sucks. However, I did not previously own any recording equipment (not even a cheap computer microphone or an old recorder) and could not justify the expenditure when it would exceed everything spent to this point.  Instead of  buying recording equipment we added words to each screen and went with what I had. Was that a good call?

Maybe, maybe not.

I recorded each character’s lines to my Iphone on the Voice Changer app, then emailed the recordings to myself.  I then manually pieced together conversations by replaying, re-recording and re-emailing. Definitely not the best process.

The first thing I’ll buy for my next YouTube or Kickstarter venture? A Blue Snowball or Yeti microphone.

All in all, I think the video is cute, and maybe even a little clever; but no-one’s saying our “monstrously good tale about Arthur Author and his book, My Masterpiece” will win any production awards. Without a doubt, with a bigger budget, and maybe even without, you can make a better one.

So, skip Starbucks this week,roll up your sleeves, and get to work!

We Have A Cover!

Yes, We Have A Cover!

Need I say it? Covers are important, all caps important, but I’ll spare your eyes that blaring sight. So, what makes a good cover? Major bucks? A panel of top rated designers, publicists and artists? A good photographer?

For the cover of our new Ebook, 100 Small Fires To Make Your Book Sales BLAZE (for sale November 18th on Amazon) we had none of those things. The book is a marketing “how-to” guide for authors I co-wrote with my marketing whiz sister, Kathleen Vrona. In it, we include small, medium and large marketing budgets with timelines, explanation and tips. We are using the small budget to market this book so for the cover I spent less than $20.00. *Warning* The smaller the budget, the more time required. This is because a lot of marketing dollars can be spent out-sourcing even the littlest tasks. For 100 Small Fires To Make Your Book Sales BLAZE, we are deliberately using the smallest budget and out-sourcing exactly nothing.

Our goal is to spend as little as possible without embarrasing ourselves, and hopefully the cover achieves this.  I had a couple of other requirements for constructing the cover; I wanted to create material that could be used on the website, and would be easily modified into supporting marketing materials like posters, mugs, bookmarks, and so forth.  Take a look at our “Kickstarter Prize  Incentives” page and make your own determination on whether I achieved this.

Here are the materials used (I’ve starred those purchased specifically for the cover – the rest were pre-owned):

Lenovo Ideapad Z585 15.6 inch is my laptop. At $500.00 it is a deal and runs memory eating programs like Photoshop with ease;

Nikon D5100 camera with 18-55mm lens (about $600.00);

A black back drop of non reflective material which I pinned to a screen;

A black desk that the material drapped onto;

Three spot light sources of the clip on variety;

Photoshop for crisping and cropping the photos and adding text;

*A cake from the local bakery that cost $7.00;

*Three numbered candles to make 100 that cost a dollar a piece;

*A cover template for a Kindle book that cost $9.00;

Stack of old books

There you have it. I purchased three things and spent about $19.00 to make our cover. While you could include a portion part of my Photoshop license, that only increases the cost by approximately $5.00.

Here’s what I did to make the cover:

1)      Purchased template and consulted with Kathleen to determine concept

2)      Obtained props (cake, books, candles)

3)      Set up windowless room at office as studio with backdrop and lights

4)      Took pictures

5)      Loaded them into computer

6)      Photoshopped pictures

7)      Placed them into cover template and Photoshopped some more

That’s it! Sounds simple enough, but it did take me some rather steep man hours. About 15 to be exact. Prior to this I had exactly zero experience in Photoshop. Zero, zip, and nada, as in, I’d never even opened the program and barely knew what it was.  I used the template to make sure the cover would meet the Kindle book cover requirements when we upload it on launch day.

Can you hear the loud “tick, tick, tick” booming out from the speaker behind this blog?

Well, I do and it’s counting down to launch day when we’ll find out if the template was worth ten bucks. If the cover uploads without a hitch that tick will change to an audible “sigh.”  To read more about it, come back later  and we’ll tell all; whether it’s good, bad, ugly, smooth or bumpy.

That’s a promise.