Let’s Discuss Book Promotion Resources

Jordan Dane

@JordanDane

Teen Pic

Purchased Image by Jordan Dane: book cover

Off the top I will say that spending a great deal of time doing promotion, instead of writing, is probably not a good thing. Even if you’re an indie author, having inventory to sell is a key way (the best way) to keep your work in front of readers.

Writing new material should be a goal for every author. Having said that, book promotion is a necessary evil, even if you’re traditionally published with book tours and appearances, but even more so if you are an indie or hybrid author straddling business and creative lines.

So let’s talk about promo. It’s been awhile since I looked into this topic. Even if you are traditionally published, it can help to enhance your sales if you assist your publisher with your own marketing strategy – something that isn’t redundant with what they may be doing for you. The average author today can not escape promoting their own books, no matter how big their publisher might be.

Promotion Resources:
BookBub still is a popular option if you are lucky enough to get your book selected by them. It can be costly (depending on what genre you pick to promote your book in) but I’ve heard authors have good odds of making the expense pay off in sales because you get your book in front of readers of your genre. Always a good thing.

Other popular options are:
BookBuzz is a fee-based service company that will help you promote your book in various packages, including getting your book listed on NetGalley for reviews (which costs money). The fees are reasonable and you choose which package best fits your purposes and budget.

BookGorilla is a reader-based service that sends out emails daily, listing great books deals. If you’re offering your book at a discount upon release or for preorder, this might be a good place to reach a vast list of reader members.

Upload Service Question:
For those of you in “the know,” is there a service that will input a new release book into 50+ reader-based sites for a fee? I seem to recall there used to be one but I’ve had trouble locating it online. It would certainly be a cool feature for any author or publisher to find a service like this.

Facebook Parties:
Many authors add Facebook Parties to their launches. It could be part of a virtual tour offered by a service company. It helps to have more than one author of a genre to make the party more fun and generate interest. Has anyone had success with a Facebook Party for a crime fiction book? (Romance and Erotica authors do these quite a bit.)

Promo Question:
Does anyone have promo sites for either promotion service companies to generate buzz or reader-based sites to get new releases into readers’ hands that have paid off? It’s often hard to quantify whether a fee has paid off in book sales, but please share anything you’ve tried with success. I’m especially interested in services for crime fiction, mystery, suspense, and thrillers.

I hope you’ll share what has worked for you. Please join in the discussion. Below are links to promote free or discounted books. Hopefully some are new to you.

ENT (E-Reader News Today)
Pixel of Ink
The Reader Cafe
Free Booksy
Kindle Nation Daily
Digital Book Today
Free Digital Reads
http://ereaderutopia.com/
http://www.humanmade.net/submission-form
http://www.orangeberrybooktours.com/
http://www.bookblast.co/advertise/advertise.php
https://www.themidlist.com/
http://www.ebooksoda.com/
http://www.masqueradecrew.com/2014/10/advertising-options-from-masquerade-crew.html
http://newfreekindlebooks.com/authors
http://kindlemojo.com/
http://www.thekindlebookreview.net/advertise-here/
http://www.bookbear.info
http://www.totallyfreestuff.com/
http://www.icravefreebies.com/contact/
http://blog.booksontheknob.org/about-this-blog-and-contact-info
http://freebooksy.com/editorial-submissions
http://www.kindleboards.com/free-book-promo/
http://indiebookoftheday.com/authors/free-on-kindle-listing/
http://freekindlefiction.blogspot.co.uk/p/tell-us-about-free-books.html
http://www.freeebooksdaily.com/
http://www.freebookshub.com/authors/
http://www.ereaderiq.com/about/
http://ebookshabit.com/about-us/
http://www.blackcaviar-bookclub.com/free-book-promotion.html#.UXFB27XYeOc
http://www.kornerkonnection.com/index.html?fb=ebookkornerkafe

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Book Talk Checklist

Nancy J. Cohen

Do you give talks at libraries, bookstores, or community groups? If so, here’s a handy checklist so you don’t forget your essential items.

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Autographed by Author Stickers Optional; not all readers want a sticker on their signed book.

Book Cover of Upcoming Release

Bookmarks: Yes, readers still like them. And even if your books are only available in ebook format, a bookmark or postcard is a reminder the guest can take home.

Books to Donate: Optional; This works for a library donation or door prizes if you’re a guest speaker at a community group.

Box of Books: Always bring a box or two for when you sell your own; otherwise keep some in your car trunk in case the bookseller doesn’t come through.

Bottle of Water: This isn’t necessary if you’re in a conference hotel that provides water for speakers or if the talk takes place at a restaurant.

Business Cards: Be sure to include your website, blog, and social media URLs.

Calculator: This might be needed if you are selling your own books, or else bring a pad of notepaper to add the cost of multiple copies. Or use your cell phone for this purpose.

Camera: Bring a camera or use your cell phone to take pictures of your event.

Cash: Bring an envelope with small bills for change if you are selling your own books. Consider if you want a credit card app on your cell phone or if you will accept personal checks.

Computer Thumb Drive or Laptop: If you are doing a PowerPoint presentation.

Conference Brochures and Flyers: For your local writers’ group for recruitment purposes.

Handouts: If you are doing a lecture, bring a handout people can take home. It’s always appreciated and stays with them longer than a PowerPoint presentation.

Mailing List Sign-up Sheet: This is the most important item to bring. If you are speaking to a writers group, offer to send new sign-ups a file via email of a related handout of interest to them.

Notices of Upcoming Appearances: If you have a slate of appearances, give it to attendees. They might tell a friend who’ll want to hear you speak.

Printed Promotional Material: i.e. postcards, bookmarks, and brochures for your series.

Sharpie fine point black ink permanent markers: Bring plenty of pens, but not expensive ones in case you lose them.

Wheels: You’ll need to haul boxes of books if you bring your own. Look in luggage stores for folding wheels or put the books in a carry-on size suitcase.

With this handy checklist, you won’t forget anything important. What else would you add?

 

8+

Getting Good PR For Your Novels

By Mark Alpert

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I learned about PR twenty-six years ago when I was a reporter for Fortune magazine. For most of 1989 I was a prime target for the Great American Public Relations Machine.

I’d been working for the magazine for about a year when the editors assigned me to write the Fortune People column. Every two weeks I had to fill a page-and-a-half feature with entertaining tidbits about the movers and shakers of Corporate America. The other reporters and writers at Fortune passed some of the tidbits to me, and I got a lot of story ideas from simply reading the newspapers. And every week I received dozen of story proposals from PR firms, many of them sent in the mail as pitch letters or press releases and some delivered very earnestly over the phone by young, eager publicists.

As I sifted through all the proposals I quickly learned the first important lesson of publicity: Before sending a story proposal to any newspaper or magazine, you should do a little research. Read a few issues of the publication to make sure your idea at least comes close to the kind of story that the periodical actually publishes.

The Fortune People column, at least when I wrote it, was all about the titans of Big Business, the chief executives of GM and Ford and IBM and all the other Fortune 500 companies. When pressed, I would also write about loudmouths such as Donald Trump. And whenever I got the chance I’d try to insert some wacky outliers into the column. For example, I had a nostalgic weakness for writing about celebrities from the Seventies, the era when I was an impressionable teenager. I gushed like a schoolboy when I interviewed Olivia Newton-John, who started a chain of clothing stores in the 1980s that later went bankrupt. (The cutline that ran under Olivia’s photo in the column: LET’S GET PROFITABLE!) I also rushed over to the Plaza Hotel one day so I could interview Seventies tennis champ Björn Borg, who was starting his own fashion label at the time. There were some reports in the tabloid press back then that Borg had made a suicide attempt, and I felt a journalistic duty to ask him if the reports were true, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pose the question. The closest I came was: “Björn, are you happy now?” He gave me a bleak look, an expression of pure Scandinavian despair. Then he replied, in a dead monotone, “Yes, I’m very happy.”

So, if any publicist had taken the time to peruse my columns, they’d have gotten a pretty good idea what I liked to write to about. But practically no one did this. The young eager PR people from Hill & Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller just kept sending me their pitch letters and press releases and calling me all day long, proposing stories that were completely inappropriate for the column. The envelopes piled so high on my desk that eventually I stopped opening them. They went straight into the trash. And I bet that’s what still happens to most pitch letters today, although the vast majority of pitches are emails now and the trash bin is virtual.

Worse, I began to suspect that some of the more experienced PR people were fully aware of the futility of their efforts but didn’t really care. One time a publicist invited me to have lunch at Aquavit with him and one of his clients. I told the publicist there was no way in hell I’d ever write about the client, but that didn’t deter him; he urged me to come to lunch anyway. So I said yes. I’d always wanted to have lunch at Aquavit, and I couldn’t have afforded it on my own dime. During lunch I listened politely to the client’s spiel while thoroughly enjoying the restaurant’s exquisite seafood. And it occurred to me that this was a weirdly dysfunctional situation, because everyone at the table was happy for a different reason. I was happy because I got a delicious lunch for free; the publicist was happy because he’d impressed his client; the client was happy because he had a chance to talk to a Fortune reporter; and the waiter was happy because he was going to get a great tip. I knew that no story would come out of this lunch meeting; the publicist knew it too, and maybe the client himself suspected as much. But it didn’t matter: everyone was happy even though nothing was accomplished. It was a strange inefficiency in our capitalist economy, I thought. Even Karl Marx hadn’t foreseen it.

So now let’s talk about PR for books. The same rule applies: Before you start promoting your books to magazines or websites or TV and radio programs, you need to do a little research. Do these media outlets ever publicize books like yours? If not, pitching your book to them may be a waste of time.

Second, my journalistic experiences have made me a little wary of PR in general. I definitely appreciate all the efforts of publicists employed by book publishers; they work hard to get reviews and feature stories for the books on their lists. But I’m skeptical about the value of hiring a freelance publicist, especially for a novel. (Nonfiction books are relatively easier to promote because media outlets are more like to run stories about them.) I have to admit, my knowledge on this subject is limited; I’ve never hired a freelance publicist, and I’m not even sure how much it costs. So I’ll put the question to all TKZers: Has anyone out there ever hired a publicist to promote his or her novels? And if so, was the experience worth the money?

Postscript: I can’t resist providing a link (right here) to one of my Fortune People items. It’s a squib from June 1989 about a 42-year-old businessman in the oil industry who benefited from some powerful family connections. I spoke with him over the phone, and he seemed pleasant but forgettable. That just proves what a bad judge of character I am. (Hint: His initials are GWB.)

7+

12 Tips for a Book Blog Tour

Nancy J. Cohen

If you wish to do a blog tour, determine if you want to offer guest posts, author interviews, reviews, and/or book blasts for your new release. Then determine which hosts you’ll want to solicit. Aim for popular blogs that get a lot of hits and target your particular genre or thematic content. Approach them by asking if you can be a guest on their site. Make sure you study their content and note the length of their typical posts.

I’ve had bloggers approach me to contribute to my site. I’ve turned down some of them because it was clear their business had nothing to do with a writing career. On the other hand, I’ve had cozy mystery or paranormal romance authors query me politely about a guest spot. In those cases, if I feel they’ll have something to contribute to my readers, I say yes. My personal blog readers respond the most to writing craft and marketing articles, so I am selective about guests.

If you don’t care to DIY, you can hire a virtual tour company. However, you’ll still have to publicize the tour, show up on the date of the post, answer comments, and offer giveaways. Send an author photo and book cover image along with your post to the host.

Here are some blog tour companies:
Goddish Fish Promotions http://www.goddessfish.com/tours.htm
Great Escapes Book Tours (Free for Cozy Mysteries) http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours
Bewitching Book Tours (Paranormal Romance) http://bewitchingbooktours.blogspot.com/
Buy the Book Tours http://www.buythebooktours.com/#axzz2OqJtoGjs
Partners in Crime (Crime, Mystery & Thrillers) http://www.partnersincrimetours.net/

12 Tips for your Virtual Blog Tour:

  1. Slant your blog to the audience you hope to reach.
  2. Vary your guest posts with a mix of interviews, articles and reviews.
  3. Space the dates out so you don’t clog the loops with your announcements.
  4. Write your posts ahead of time.
  5. Include a short excerpt from your book with your article when possible.
  6. Add buy links to your book along a story blurb, plus links to your website, blog, FB page, and Twitter at the end of your post.
  7. Plan to be available to answer comments all day when your post goes live.
  8. List the tour as an Event on your various social media sites.
  9. Publish the blog tour dates and topics on your website.
  10. Consider offering a giveaway for commenters with each post.
  11. Have a grand prize using Rafflecopter or a random drawing from all commenters.
  12. Thank your host at the end of the day when your post appears.

For next time, write down blog topics as you write your WIP. This way, you’ll have a ready list of topics available when you need them (i.e. research, the writing process, what inspired you to write this story, world building, themes, etc.).

A blog tour can help you gain exposure to new readers who might not have known about your work. It takes a lot of advance planning, publicity, and commitment to make it a success. A blog tour is another tool to raise your readership and possibly garner some reviews. Schedule with the companies listed above or with your selected hosts as far in advance as you can. So decide upon a target date for your tour and go for it.

16+

Essential Twitter Hashtags for Authors, Readers and Publishing Industry Professionals

Twitter can feel like screaming into the void until you get a feel for the Twitterverse. If you tweet using a link to your blog post or website to draw traffic, you can check your blog or website stats to track the traffic from that link. Using Twitter in the right way can enhance your promo, but if you aren’t maximizing your tweets with hashtags, you’re not being as effective as you can be. That’s a waste of your precious time that you can’t afford. Here’s why:

It can take time to build Twitter followers. You can have 100 followers, but if you understand the use of hashtags, you can get beyond your followers to a much larger online community. By using the Hashtag symbol #, you can connect with readers, tap into people following a particular topic, search for the latest in a book genre, look for industry advice or read about book recommendations. Even if you have many followers, by using the right hashtag, you can target your post to a specific audience that’s looking for what you have to tweet about.
Hashtags can also be used to promote a certain product brand, like #Kindle or #Nook. It can also be used to tap you into certain experts, like #AskAgent or #AskEditor. A fun way hashtags are used is punctuation to a joke or use of sarcasm, like tweeting ‘Snooki did another beach face plant #awkward.’

To keep up with the latest in hashtags or look up ones you don’t understand, go to #TagDef. Below is a really good list to start with hashtags geared for authors, readers, and industry topics.

Target Other Authors

  • #AmWriting
  • #AmEditing
  • #BookMarket (Every Thursday, 4 PM, ET)
  • #IndieAuthors
  • #LitChat (Every M/W/F)
  • #MemoirChat (Bi-weekly Wednesday, 8 PM, ET)
  • #WordCount
  • #WritersLife
  • #WriteChat
  • #WriteTip
  • #WriterWednesday (or #WW)
  • #WritingParty
  • #WritingTip
  • #YALitChat

Target Book Genres

  • #RomanceWriter
  • #SciFiChat
  • #KidLitChat
  • #RWA (Romance Writers of America)
  • #ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)
  • #MGLit (Middle Grade Lit)
  • #SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators)
  • #MemoirChat

Identify Industry Information

  • #AskAgent
  • #AskAuthor
  • #AskEditor
  • #GetPublished
  • #PromoTip
  • #SelfPublishing
  • #Publishing
  • #EBooks
  • #IndiePub (or #IndiePublishing)
  • #BookMarketing

Goals Setting Specifics

  • #WritingPrompt
  • #StoryStarter
  • #WordAThon
  • #Creativity
  • #WIP (work in progress)
  • #1K1H (write one thousand words in one hour)

Target Readers

  • #FridayReads
  • #BookGiveaway
  • #Giveaway
  • #Kindle
  • #MustRead
  • #Nook
  • #Ebook
  • #LitChat
  • #StoryFriday
  • #MustRead

After this TKZ Twitter Tutorial, I thought it might be fun to launch a Twitter FollowFest. If you are interested in building your Twitter Followers, use the LINKY TOOL below and enter your twitter account for others to follow. Anyone wanting to participate can enter their Twitter link and auto-follow those on the list we’ll create. This link will only be open for a limited time.
Support your fellow TKZers.

Here is the Linky Tool:

0

An Indie Author’s Checklist – A Look Behind the Curtain of OZ (Post #1)

This is post #1 in a blog post series that I hope you will find interesting—things that I have learned on my indie author journey. Since I’ve been fortunate enough to be published by HarperCollins and Harlequin Teen, I can see and appreciate the differences in what I will be doing as I self-publish. I’m discovering what my houses do behind the scenes for authors on the e-book front and realize that when I become an indie author, I will have to make choices on how to expand my distribution and retail visibility—ways my traditional publishers did for me without me knowing it.

My first recommendation for any indie author is to do your research on what’s involved. It’s not simply writing a story, editing it well, spending some coin to format and cover it, and uploading it onto Amazon and expect readers to find you. You first have to put out the best book you can, because quality will help you build a readership. Secondly, there is a business side that detracts from your writing time and you must be aware of how time consuming this can be. You won’t be able to load your book up and have readers flock to find you. It takes time to build a virtual shelf of quality work and expand your distribution. That’s why I wanted to share my experiences so you can research what will work for you and not spin your wheels, trying to gain traction.

This series of posts are intended to jumpstart your research, but for the purposes of discussion, I will lay out the decisions I had to make as I began. I’d spent time researching and building service provider contacts. I already had an infrastructure in place where I had an online presence, blogs, twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and many other sites that I have grown my online presence. A new indie author would not start where I did. They’d have to catch up and that takes time and money to set up your promotional foundation. This post is not intended to start from scratch. I’m sharing my experiences, starting from a spot where I already had insights into the industry. I hope what follows will help any author build on their expertise.

For me, the process started with me making decisions on which service to upload my books into after I’d done my initial due diligence into self-publishing. I knew I would upload to Amazon and B&N. They provide comprehensive systems that make the process easy and their reach encompasses most of the e-books being sold today. So realize that if you upload to Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook, you are probably reaching 60-70% of the digital books being sold. In a quickly changing world, however, the shift in technology could change this dynamic, but for now I’m comfortable with my digital offerings being on these two sites. For many established authors, who want to step foot into the indie world, this might be enough. But it’s not enough for an indie author with dreams of finding another way to make a living and who might be starting from scratch.

A traditional publisher uses its name to aggregate digital books to retailers and provides the latest offerings in a bundle. They support and build an infrastructure to get their books into as many viable venues as possible, to get books into the hands of today’s online readers. An indie author is on their own to figure out how to expand their reach and what to promote, but traditional houses have resources en masse with staff to support that effort. For an indie author to learn what works—and to grow what they know— they must navigate uncharted waters of Distributors and Retailers that are willing to allow self-published authors or small houses to have the same access as larger publishing houses.

I thought it would be interesting to break down what I’ve learned into five posts and create a future page of resource links on my FRINGE DWELLER blog for indie authors that I will maintain for myself and to share. My hope is to demystify the process of self-publishing so authors can make informed business decisions on how to get their work in the hands of readers directly. Ultimately, this will become a comprehensive “how to” book on author promotion that will cover various topics from branding and online presence, to press kits and resources, with practical tips on distribution. This indie process has educated me and will continue to do so.

But in doing this, I’m also realizing what my traditional houses have been doing for me and appreciate their efforts. I’m hoping to maintain a balance that works for me where I can still have projects through traditional publishers, but reap the benefits and gain experience with being an indie author for certain projects. Sustaining my online presence and growing my name recognition will hopefully be a benefit and a WIN-WIN for any house I work with as I self-publish. By expanding my reach, I can also give my agent more to represent.

Even authors who have no plans to self-publish can gain an appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes beyond your desk, your publisher, and your friendly retailer—because today’s readers have many ways to discover books outside the brick and mortar stores.

Here are the bullet point topics I will cover in this blog post series:

1.) Introduction (Post #1)

2.) E-Book Retailers – A Checklist Place to Start (Post #2)

3.) Distributors & Library Sales (Post #3)

4.) Retailers with Volume Restrictions or Limited Access (Post #4)

5.) Conclusions & Introduction to My Resource Page (including review sites receptive to indie author books by genre) (Post #5)

Please share your questions and topic suggestions that you hope I will cover so I can target the focus of my series. I’d appreciate your input.

In the mean time, I hope you will indulge me in a little blatant self-promotion for my first ever self-published offerings.

120429 One Authors Aha Moments - Jordan Dane - FinalONE AUTHOR’S AHA MOMENTS (92-page POD, e-book) is geared toward aspiring authors and has an emphasis on the Young Adult genre. These writing tips may also be helpful to experienced authors and those who write other genres. My advice comes from my personal experiences on writing fiction for adult and teen markets and what has worked for me. Topics include: Young Adult fiction themes, voice, and characteristics; how to create characters editors look for & give them a unique voice; plot structure that even a non-plotter can love; how to hook your book; the writer’s life, goal setting, editing, book promotion and more.


My first anthology of short stories—SEX, DEATH & MOIST TOWELETTES (e-book)—is now available. It’s a mix of stories from crime fiction noir to paranormal, with my brand of dark humor. As a teaser for anyone not familiar with my adult paranormal writing, I’m releasing DARK KISS (e-book) as a single short story from the anthology for a discounted price.

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Jonathan Grave’s Arsenal

By John Gilstrap
My next book, Damage Control, hits the stands on June 5.  In this edition of the Jonathan Grave thriller series, Jonathan steps into a trap when he and Boxers travel to Mexico to rescue a busload of missionaries from the hands of a drug cartel.  Someone in Washington betrays him on what should have been a routine ransom drop-off, and the result is a lot of dead hostages and kidnappers.  As Jonathan and Boxers escape with the lone survivor, the cartel and their sponsors in Washington move heaven and earth to stop him.  Publishers Weekly gave the book a glowing review, and I’m pleased to report that my publisher, Kensington, is pulling out some new stops in the promotion department.
One of the coolest things I’ve been asked to do is a video blog that brings readers deeper into Jonathan’s world.  I’m calling it “Jonathan Grave’s Arsenal.”  In two-minute segments, I’ll give overviews and demonstrations of the weapons Jonathan has at his disposal.  So far, I’ve completed videos highlighting Heckler and Koch’s 5.56 mm HK416 (designated the M27 by the US Marines), the Colt Model 1911 .45 caliber pistol, and the Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun.  By the time I’m done, the series will cover, at a minimum, the 7.62 mm HK 417 and the amazing 4.6 mm HK MP7.  I’d like to do some episodes on explosives, too, but I haven’t yet figured out the logistics of that, what with all those pesky ATF rules.
While I’ve written a few movies over the past decade or so, I haven’t actually shot one in a long time.  The last time I edited a film, I used a home version of a Moviola, literally cutting the film and splicing it with tape. 
When first approached about this video blog thing, I had no idea how I was going to do it.  Sure, I have a digital camera that shoots video, but I’d never actually shot video with it.  Plus, since talking heads are boring—and, in my case, shiny—I knew I’d want to do cutaways.
Well, lo and behold, my Windows 7 program comes complete with Microsoft Movie Maker, an editing program that is way more powerful than I would have imagined.  More than adequate for my needs.  You simply drag the segments you want to work with to the work window, and you can make precise cuts. 
With the first episode in the can, as it were, my next challenge was figuring out what the hell to do with the 60MB files.  They’d choke anybody’s email server.  Enter: YouSendIt.com.  For $149 a year, you can email an unlimited number of HUGE files to people.  The Kensington team is thrilled with the results.
My only frustration—and I’m turning to you dear Killzoners for help—is how to do voiceovers in Movie Maker.  From what I can tell, on the digital recording, the audio track and the video track are all together.  Is this correct?
Jonathan Grave’s Arsenal” will be exclusive to Barnes & Noble for the first few weeks of its existence, but then I’ll add it to my website and upload it to YouTube.
I feel a new obsession coming on.  I deeply don’t need another obsession.

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Virtual Book Tours – YA Style

By Jordan Dane

On a Dark Wing – When 16-year old Abbey Chandler cheats Death and lives past her expiration date, her lucky break comes at a heartbreaking price. And Death has never forgotten.

For my adult debut “No One” series for HarperCollins, a gracious group of aspiring authors offered to conduct a virtual tour for me. It would be their first and they wanted to learn how to do one. Being a new author, I jumped at the chance. I learned a lot from that experience. It brought traffic to my website and exposed me to new readers, but it was also a lot of work to come up with fresh material at each tour stop. It exhilarated and drained me at the same time, if that makes sense. By the end, I had nothing to really gauge my effectiveness, except that I had made new author friends, which I’m always grateful for.


Flash forward to the present—and my, oh my—how things have changed.


After reading my Young Adult (YA) debut book – IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS – YA fantasy author Trisha Wolfe of YA Bound loved my book and contacted me. We kept in touch. She’s a talented author with her debut book – DESTINY’S FIRE – coming out in early 2012. When she heard I had book #2 being released soon—ON A DARK WING (Jan 2012, Harlequin Teen)—she asked if she could host a virtual book tour for me. I’m learning so much from her. She’s a very generous soul. With more and more readers following each other’s review sites and getting book suggestions from this growing resource, it intuitively made sense to me that I should tap into this trend, but how? I had little idea how to get “Discoverability” as Clare Langely-Hawthorne described in a great TKZ post on Monday.


Here’s what we’ve done to date and I’ll share what’s ahead.


COVER REVEAL – I held off on revealing my cover until YA Bound was ready to launch the sign up for bloggers wanting to be tour stops. This took coordination with my house so they wouldn’t make my cover available to public forums like Amazon or Goodreads.


TOUR HOSTS – From my Twitter & Goodreads activity, I had the pleasure of meeting Trish of YA Bound online, but I’ve learned since then that hosts sometimes charge for their services to host a tour. Another site I’ve heard about is THE {TEEN} BOOK SCENE. Coordinator Kari has a great reputation and conducts her services for free, but asks for donations. If you query “Virtual Book Tours” online, you will find many links on the subject, including host sites who may specialize in your type of genre.


TOUR SIGN UP – On Oct 3rd, when I posted a reveal of my cover, I announced that YA Bound would host my online tour and sign ups would start on Oct 4th. On the first day, Trish told me we had a record number of blogs join the tour and more were coming. The sign up period ends Oct 31. The last time I checked, we had 45 blogs on that list. The next step will be to evaluate who will get selected. Participants will be notified soon with the tour to commence as soon as YA Bound determines a schedule.


TOUR REQUIREMENTS – What do bloggers do on the tour? Look at YA Bound’s tour requirements HERE. Trish’s experience as tour host shows in this detailed list of requirements. The more that is spelled out in advance, the smoother things will run, but an experienced tour host is vital to make the tour look effortless.


DISTRIBUTING ARCs – Harlequin Teen uses Netgalley to get advance reader copies into the hands of tour members as well as other online reviewers who are approved by them. My book is HERE on Netgalley. To read Harlequin Teen’s reviewer criteria, click HERE.


BANNERS & COUNTDOWN WIDGETS – Trish created a tour banner using my cover and the logo of my publisher. These graphic designs can cost money, but Trish did mine for free using WidgetBox. She did an amazing job. Click HERE to see the tour banner and the countdown widget she created for free too. These banners and countdown widgets can be cross posted by bloggers and sites signed up for the tour to help spread the word. But anyone can grab the code, even if they aren’t participating in the tour.


TOUR STOP VARIETY – In my very first virtual tour, most of the tour stop formats were Q&A interviews where the host (who had read the book) would ask interview questions that ranged from book inspirations to craft advice. By the time you schedule 20 tour stops, however, this format can lose steam when the questions seem redundant. With the new tours, the host will work with each tour stop to come up with different kinds of features. I’ve seen longer lists of ideas to make each stop unique, but here are only a few (some of my favorites): Vlog Interviews (video interviews with the author posted online), When I’m not writing (highlights of hobbies, family or pets), Author Book Picks, Cover Interview, Author with Editor Interview, Character Tweets (I’m planning one with Death), Character Interviews, or a Top Ten List that can be related to the author or the book. There’s more, but this will give you an idea of how creative these tour stops have gotten.


GIVEAWAYS – My publisher has contributed books to giveaway on the tour, but my character, Abbey Chandler, will have a special gift for readers who win a book. She’s says it’s a secret. [Insert eye roll here. She can be a real drama queen.] And at the conclusion of the tour—on a live chat hosted by YA Bound—a Grand Prize will be given away. It’s really cool, but I’m not saying what it is yet. Shhh!


GRAND PRIZE – A grand prize will be given to tour participants who make every stop & comment or participate. As you might imagine, the grand prize is aptly named for its GRANDEUR, incentive for blogger to FLIP OUT!


SOCIAL MEDIA TANGO – With every tour stop, it will be key to promo on Twitter or other social media sites. My tour host will help with this and so will my publisher & other bloggers who are part of the tour. This could be significant & retweeting (RT) by others can add fire to the buzz. I’m a big lover of Twitter. Most morning, I check in to see what’s happening. I RT messages or post a link to TKZ to promo our post using appropriate hashtags (ie #writing, #amwriting, #publishing) if the posts relate to craft or industry. Hashtags allow my Twitter messages to reach beyond my followers and tap into a bigger universe on Twitterville, folks who follow writing or publishing news.


TWITTER CONTESTS – I recently saw an author run a series of quick contests on Twitter for a limited period of time. She had simple rules stated in advance, but her main reason for conducting the giveaways was to get her ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) into the hands of readers AND to gain followers. Her ARC freebies earned her hundreds of followers in 2 days. ANOTHER CONTEST TIP – If you’re running book giveaways on Twitter or via a link you are tweeting, use the hashtag #BOOKGIVEAWAY to call attention to your post and reach beyond your own followers.


GAUGING RESULTS – A daily posting group blog like TKZ can lighten the load of posting to a blog and is very helpful for name recognition. Plus, if you blog or have a website, you can use stats to gauge traffic to your site. Recently, James Scott Bell noticed that TKZ had risen to #37 in literature blogs and brought that to our attention. Joe Moore pointed out that we see 1500+ page hits a day on average. On these Blogger stats you can see where traffic comes from and Twitter is a big resource to drive people to your site. If you’re not using Twitter to its fullest potential, you’re missing out on a freebie.


Since many of you who follow TKZ are considering self-publishing or have already taken the plunge, I wanted to share what I’ve learned on advance promo that can create buzz about your book. You can find opportunities to promote your work that are cost effective or spend a little money on giveaways or find the right host to showcase your novel.


Please share your thoughts on what has worked for you or ask questions about virtual book tours. TKZ is about sharing ideas and supporting authors.


Reckoning for the Dead (Adult thriller, Sweet Justice Book #4) – HarperCollins, Sept 2011 Now Available.


On a Dark Wing (Harlequin Teen, Jan 2012) – Virtual Book Tour Sign-up at YA Bound – Deadline Oct 31st.

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Marketing in a Digital World – Maximizing FREE

By Jordan Dane

After Joe Moore’s interesting post yesterday – More Signs of the Times – about ebooks, online book pirates, & marketing, I thought I’d share what I’ve been focused on with my upcoming Young Adult book – On A Dark Wing (Harlequin Teen, Jan 2012) and the advance marketing we’re targeting for this release.

You might assume that targeting younger readers would automatically include a more savvy online promo approach, but more and more adult readers are turning to online resources to discover authors. With the growth in smart phones, having an aggressive online marketing strategy is important to create buzz for your books.
Below are some things I’m doing. I’ve also added promo ideas that I’ve heard lately and hope you’ll find some have merit.
1.)    GROUP Blogs – The Kill Zone is a fine example of how a group blog can draw online traffic, provide a service to its followers and share the workload. I’ve just started a group blog – TEENSHIVER – for Texas authors who write dark young adult books that make a reader shiver. TeenShiver will have an outreach to area schools, libraries & retail stores, as well as to readers of YA in our state, yet with an online presence that is global. Since publishers tend to spend money regionally, rather than on more costly national campaigns (unless you’re James Patterson), this concept has been well received by our publishers since we are optimizing our traffic while featuring our books too. We are offering our publishers a better place to justify spending budget dollars. Our followers will benefit too. Texas has amazing book conferences and the TX book review/blogging community is vital, thriving, and supports homegrown authors.
2.)    Virtual Book Tours – Many of you might be familiar with virtual tours, but I wanted to share a link that I think might help you figure out who to include on your tour stops. Quantcast (www.Quantcast.com) is a site where you can query a domain to see how much traffic they get and their demographics. Many blogs may request a spot on the tour, but since we are all tight on time or on deadline, writing a post or answering questions for an interview take time we may not have unless the site is active. Virtual tours today have hosts, generous bloggers willing to take on the host duties of pulling their community together for an effective tour, plus an author’s publisher can add a budget for a grand prize to generate buzz and participation. There is so much more to say about how these are run today, but not enough space here. Physical book tours are hit or miss as far as foot traffic & how successful they can be, but with virtual tours you never leave home and the blog traffic keeps coming long after you’ve posted.
3.)    Twitter – I’ve found twitter to be a wonderful community to get to know and if you post your blog link or website or stir up a virtual tour, you can actually track the stats on your blog. This is quantifiable data. Social media spots like Facebook don’t have stats on traffic because they are not set up to conduct business well. Twitter is free and can be used effectively to enhance the draw to your blog or other objectives. Cultivate the book blogging & review community. They are truly amazing & avidly into books. We use twitter here at TKZ. If you’re a TKZ fan, follow us at this LINK.
4.)    Blogging – Whether you do a group blog or fly solo with your own, blogging is free and has stats for traffic analysis. If you have an active blog with commenting followers and an even more active lurker community (reflected in stats for your site hits), blogging is a resource that can be especially useful to the self-published author, the aspiring author trying to get their name out, and the pubbed author with “out of the box” promo objectives. Used in conjunction with twitter, this can be an effective way to post interesting articles to the blogosphere without costing you the money that a website domain would.
5.)    Street Teams – This is a concept that may be more prevalent with young adult readers, but there are adults volunteering their time for this too. Street teams started with the music community for people wanting to support their bands. Authors have taken this concept a step further and created clever ways to tie this promo function into their books. You can post a sign up on your website (like a yahoo group) where avid readers can send contact info to participate in a buzz campaign for your next release or an ongoing support group. You set up the criteria they need to be approved (ie must have a blog or post to X number of blogs for an advance review, etc. Publishers’ qualifications are posted on http://www.netgalley.com/ and gives guidelines on what these pre-qualifiers might be.) These avid fans (with special team names you create) are promised special insider information about your upcoming release, sent advance teaser quotes from your book, given swag like bookmarks or other token gifts or signed book covers, sent bookmarks/postcards to hand out—in exchange for help to spread the word about your next book, both online and word of mouth. Again, this is a huge topic without room to expand here.
Bottom line—take advantage of what is free on the internet. Get to know the growing technology that readers are using and come up with fun new ways to get your name or brand out there. Even if you are an aspiring author or thinking about self-publishing, having an online presence is important to develop a solid foundation of marketing your work and exposing your name to the publishing industry and readers who might be looking for you.

If you’re a reader, I’d love to hear how your search for books has changed in this more digital world as newspaper review sections have declined and other resources have dried up? Where do you go online for book recommendations?

And if you’re an author, I’d love to hear any other ideas for online promo that you think might be worth consideration. What has worked for you?

Reckoning for the Dead (HarperCollins, Sept 27, 2011. Book #4 – Sweet Justice adult thriller series)
“Jordan Dane crafts nail-biting thrillers with fully-realized but very damaged characters, and plots that twist and turn and double-back to bite the unwary. Her novels are 21st Noir with guts and heart and a wicked sense of humor.”
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times Bestseller
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Making a Book Trailer

An author’s online presence has never been so important in order to sell their books. An active Instagram, informative Twitter and well laid out landing page are all perfect ways of boosting your growth. If you’re not sure how to make a website landing page, don’t worry; it’s simple, just look at bio.fm vs. Carrd for more information on the best one to use. Another great way to improve your presence while also building hype for your new books is to create book trailers.

Ever since book trailers came out, I’ve been taking notes off the writers’ loops on how to make them, what length they should be, what to include, etc. Recently, I distilled these notes into a one page outline for using Windows Movie Maker to make my own video. I’d save money if I could do it myself, right? First I began by writing the text for upcoming mystery release, Shear Murder. I made sure to use short lines and action verbs and keep it brief.  

Now it was time to search for photos to match the lines. I went to my favorite site for royalty free pix at http://www.123rf.com and started adding photos to my Lightbox. This is time consuming but fun when you find the right characters and poses to suit your story.
Next comes the music. You’ll want to find a piece that evokes the feel of your story, builds tension, and has stanzas that work where you want your images or text to change. Huh? I am not musically inclined enough to figure this out. I searched through some of the sites and found some cool melodies but they cost nearly $30 each. Clearly I wasn’t looking in the right place. Now I’d have to start all over somewhere else. I tried a new site for music, but damned if I could figure out how it works. I can play the samples, but there isn’t any Lightbox. How do you acquire the tune?
This is getting too time consuming and confusing. I really wish I could learn how to do it myself, but I am ready to give up. I look through my list of video trailer producers. There’s one who offers reasonable fees if you do some of the work. No problem; I’ve already written my text and selected most of the photos. Budget is a concern, and I don’t want to spend a whole lot for an entity that isn’t proven to drive sales. Nonetheless, I’m afraid I’ll have to bite the bullet and hire someone. My time would be better spent elsewhere.
As for learning how to do a podcast next, forget it!
See the video for Silver Serenade here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNcSYlRHAY4
Produced for me by author Linnea Sinclair.

How many of you are Do It Yourselfers?

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