What's the point of this blog!

I'm documenting the marketing for my YA book series "The chick friends rules". I want to see which marketing strategies will work best in creating buzz and hopefully income. So, sign up below and take the journey with me.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Essential marketing terms I've learned.

I thought I'd put together a few terms that I've come across regularly since I began marketing my YA series "The Chick friends rules". I'm sure there's tons more but these are the terms I've come in contact with most often.

ARC- Advanced Review Copy. Usually a free copy of your book sent to reviewers.

Bar code-That's the row of lines on the back of your book where they will place your ISBN# which will identify your book title.

Blog-Personal digital diary shared with the masses.

Blogger-The author of the personal digital diary that is essential for a word of mouth campaign.

Copyright - Protecting your property. Back in the 80's I would mail a copy of my books to myself as a cheap version of copyright protection. I also remember if I wanted to submit a book to the Library of Congress I had to get an application, print out a hard copy of my book usually at $0.2 per page, get a money order for the processing fee, carry the thick stack to the post office and pay hefty postage.Phwwww! Now I can go directly to the Library of Congress website and upload my book directly from my laptop for $35.00. The process takes 15-20 minutes. Now that's progress. Super simple, easy breezy. http://www.loc.gov/index.html

CPC- cost per click. If you decide to go the paid advertising route, you will see this term used often. It's what you're paying every time a potential customer clicks on your ad that takes them to your designated landing page. The typical rate can range anywhere from $0.15 per click to $0.45 per click. I usually don't go over $0.45

DRM- Digital Rights Management provides the software locks put on information distributed digitally to prevent unauthorised distribution. Every time I upload a book I'm asked if I want this feature. Hell yeah,I want it.

ePub - format used for B&N and others.

eKindle - format used for uploading to Creatspace.

Genre- where does your book fit. Mine is YA (Young Adult).

Giveaway- A necessary marketing tool. Giving your baby away for free.

ISBN- International Standard Book Number. It's your books birth certificate. Awww.You don't necessarily need one if you're going through Creatspace; they will provide you with one for free but it's only good for Createspace. But a batch of 10 isbn codes can be purchased as well from Bowker. http://www.isbn.org/standards/home/index.asp

Month-to-date sales unit- Tells you how many books you've sold within the month. I get butterflies every time I click on this link. But, lately...not bad. Sold 2 more ebook yesterday.

Review- Submitting your book to a reviewer and waiting for a analysis of your literary talent. It can be nerve wrecking.

Tags- keyword or term best used to describe your book. For example, my tags are usually; YA, teens, realistic fiction, social issues,peer pressure, sexual abuse.

URL destination- What website address you want your customers to be directed to. A quick copy and paste will do the trick for this one.

This is all I can come up with off the top of my head. Feel free to share more useful terms by leaving a comment.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beating the deadline.

I have missed blogging to my fellow indie writer friends. I've been frantically trying to beat a December 30th deadline for the release of the final novel in the "Chick friends rules" series; senior year. I was able to get out junior year this past weekend and I'm at the half way mark for senior year. I thought I was ready to push the "upload" button but after reading it, I didn't like most of it so, I'm rewriting. Don't you hate that part?
Oh, before I forget; I have some wonderful news, when I went to upload junior year on Amazon I saw that I sold 8 copies of my books with in one week. And 3 books on B&N. However, I don't know why they all sold in that particular week,(head-scratcher). Maybe the blog giveaways are finally paying off because its the only thing I've been doing consistently for two months. Apparently the word of mouth machine is starting to stir and I am so grateful. I was dancing around my family room as if I sold 800 books. I know its only 8 books but I'll take any little victory. It was just the shot in the arm I needed. I'm pumped.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

5 Steps of a successful book giveaway.

I love giveaways. My books would forever live in a cyber black hole if it weren't for the book giveaway. At first I wasn't too keen on the idea of giving away my literary masterpieces; I mean I spent a lot of energy on my work, why should I give them away? Because its necessary. So, let me just get to it, here are 5 steps to a successful giveaway.

1.Write a basic inquiry letter.
You remember those from back in the day when you were trying to get an agent.Put it on your desktop for easy copy and paste. It should have some very basic information such as your name, the isbn# of your book for easy reference, the genre of your book, an introduction of your book, the number of books you want to giveaway, your website or blog link, your book trailer link,and a big fat juicy kiss.

2. Bloggers! Bloggers! Bloggers!
This is a partnership. They need writers just as much as we need bloggers. The two go hand and hand like Oreos and milk. So don't be intimidated. When sending your inquiry to bloggers always greet them by name and include something specific about their blog so they know you didn't just send them a form letter. Make sure to read their "about me", and their "review policy", you'll find most of the information you need there. You want to make sure the blogger is in your book genre too. One of my rookie mistakes were sending queries for my "realistic" YA fiction out to bloggers who were only interested in "dystopia" or "fantasy" books. There should be a blog directory for different genres. I put my YA book blog directory on my bookmarks for quick reference. When the bloggers email you back be prepared for either an author interview or to share information about the book or yourself that they'll post on their blog.

3.Book giveaway sites.
Let your search engine do the work. Google the words: book giveaway and a treasure trove of information will come up. Goodreads.com is one of the best sites for giveaways; you're allowed to enter the number of copies and the dates of the giveaway. There are sites available that cater to authors and publishers looking to giveaway an ARC or (Advanced Reading Copy). But never pay for a giveaway, I stumbled upon a site where they were charging an author $100.00 to post on their site. That's not necessary.

4.Don't forget to send out the book.
I know this should go without saying but sometimes you can forget. I usually send out the book to the winners within 24 hours. Don't forget to autograph the book with a little note using the winner's name. They aren't just winners, they're potential customers. And BTW: keep your giveaways in the U.S. and Canada. Trust me, you don't want to get sticker shock when you go to the Post Office. I spent $12 to send a giveaway to Brazil, that's more than the book costs.

5.Nurture you fans.
There are readers and then there are fans. I'm so happy to say that I have fans. And its the coolest feeling in the world. I only have 7 of them right not, but they're my fans none the less and I give them the royal treatment. My fans email me and tell me how they love my books and for that, I reward them with free copies, book marks etc... Your fans will eventually become a part of the "word of mouth" machine that's so powerful and you can depend on them to write good review too. I have one fan who's 13 years old and in middle school, she sent me the sweetest email about how she could relate to one of my characters in the book because she's going through the same thing. It made me emotional. It's email's like these that makes me realize my writing is a gift to be shared. When I read email's from my fans, all the mess of marketing melts away because I made a connection.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What's in a name? Are you a self-published author or an indie author?

What's the difference, right?

I remember when I was a little girl and I'd go through the magazine section of the Sunday paper, there would be an advertisement for a vanity press. It would offer writers leather bound covers in black, blue or brown for their manuscripts for only $whatever.99. There would be testimonials of happy customers etc...etc... In my mind, that's self-published; books written by writers without any real drive or desire to see their words go beyond bragging rights.

I prefer to be called an indie author. I feel I'm no different than indie filmmakers or indie musicians. For some reason those artist are seen as having a renaissance personality and are respected for being progressive and cultured where as if a writer wears the same "indie" label we're seen as rejects and failures who couldn't cut it in big publishing.

I believe the internet is the best thing that has happened to indie writers; turning the tide and allowing us to accelerate our careers as writers on our terms. Die hard publishing folks will disagree and we will have to fight for respect. But, frankly who cares what they think? The proof is all around us; how many neighborhood book stores are around anymore? And, how often does your child go to the library? The old publishing machine is slowly on its way out; give or take 10 years.

Digital cameras changed the way filmmakers create films. And computer programs changed the way musicians record music. It took 15 years for the digital revolution to turnaround those artist and we're next. The advancements in internet publishing is something to be marveled. It is accessible, inexpensive and limited only to how much time, energy and marketing we're willing to invest. Now, I personally created my own publishing company, Randall & Reismann, complete with tax i.d., company credit cards, and a company P.O. box. I wanted to do everything I could to make my company legit and its still a work in progress (still working on that website). Maybe, someday I will not only publish my own books but maybe some one else as well. If you think about it, its not too outlandish to open your own publishing company, after all big publishers once started out as small publishers too.

Before going solo, I tried getting published the traditional route as I'm sure most of us have. I submitted queries and my manuscript to over 80 agents. I came very close to securing two agents for my "Chick friends" series on two separate occasions. One male agent agreed to take on the project only if I re-wrote all four books making the characters and the setting more "urban" because readers wouldn't be able to relate to upper-middle class, suburban minority kids,(in layman's terms; he wanted me to make the characters ghetto). So, I would have to call my cuzzo Rae-Rae and ask her what's life like in the projects, yo (can you see my neck rolling?)l.o.l. Anyway, I was taken aback by his observation. But, I took a deep breath and seriously considered the re-write. I asked my "almost" agent for a contract for representation before the re-writes and he said no. So, basically he wanted me to re-write all four book without any promise of representation. Get the fudge outta here!

My second "almost" agent showed interest in representation and said she was "super busy and would make contact" with me after she returned from her vacation to Italy. That was two years ago; I guess she's still in Italy. But I'm not bitter because one thing I got from those two "almost" contracts was that I have a marketable series or else they wouldn't have shown interest.

I hope you understand how I arrived at my decision to go it alone. Someone else might think I should have just re-wrote the books or waited by the phone for Ms. Italy to return. But, I can't stand the idea of putting my future in the hands of someone else. The control is too important to me. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice but only time will tell. So, in the meantime I proudly wear the label of indie-author/writer. What about you?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Surviving a bad review.

Imagine; It's Easter Sunday and you dress your child in her Sunday best. Frilly dress, ribbons, ankle socks, patent leather Mary Janes, the whole nine. You stand back and admire your beautiful child and off to Sunday service you go feeling like a proud mama and someone says, "Wow, that's an ugly-ass kid you got there." Devastating. That's what it feels like getting a negative review on your book; your baby. I bring it up because I received my first professional review about a couple of months ago and although the reviewer liked my book overall she did find it necessary to point out my numerous comma splices and grammatical errors. I called to mope and groan to my friend and she called me back and said, "did you even read the review?" I hadn't. I only read the first paragraph and that was enough. When I got the courage to read the whole thing it was favorable. But, even though she gave me 3 stars out of 5. My book is in the hands of 4 more professional reviews and I'm terrified. My one saving grace is that I've received very good reviews and feedback from teen readers who don't care about my comma splices but have become engaged in the story. So, here's how to survive a bad book review.

Reviews are subjective.
Everyone isn't going to enjoy your book and that's okay because someone else will. You don't have to change the way you write to try to appease a few people. Every writer has a voice, you just have to find the right person to listen. It's okay to go through a mourning period but you gotta get it out there and develope a thick skin.

Depend on your fans.
Everyone doesn't buy books based on reviews. Many readers will purchase a book if its a subject they're interested in or enjoy. Although the reviewer found my mistakes, my fans didn't care and never mentioned it. The few kids who read my book, loved it. They found the story relatable to their own lives and was entertained by the characters. So, I hold on to those positive reviews and feedback from my fans like a golden ticket. Think of how many times you saw a movie that didn't get good reviews, it didn't stop you from seeing it; same thing.

Use it as an opportunity to hone your writing skills.
If deep down you think the review are right; and every mama knows if her kid is ugly, then maybe you can use it as an opportunity to hone your writing skills. The negative part of my review was about technicality, not content. I dropped the ball on the first two novels. I was so excited to cross the finish line and I didn't double check my editors mistakes. And yes; I had an editor. Now, I realized I was a sucker and scammed out of $750.00 and I believed him when he said he edited my books and made the corrections. A real editor charges about $0.018 per word and for a book with 85,000 words that puts the editing budget at around $1500. So, yeah I fudged up. Rookie mistake. But it made me a better writer. Now; I go through every sentence with a fine tooth comb. Its true that the longer you write the better you become. I have to be especially careful now that I fired the second editor and going it alone. I'm holding my breath.

Don't stop writing.
Never get discouraged. Pick your favorite author and go on Amazon and scan for the reviews. Even your favorite author isn't immune to negative feedback. Don't let it break you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

5 biggest marketing mistakes I have made so far

It's the morning after my big Facebook fiasco and my body is slowly readjusting. I was up thinking all night and I heard somewhere that "failure is the universe pointing you in another direction". Pretty good, huh? So, these are the mistakes I've made so far.

5. Accidentally deleting my Facebook "Like" page.
I don't like FB anyway. The only reason I created one was because I was made to feel I needed one. But, perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. I'm not in a hurry to create one again,it was time consuming and quite frankly I didn't generate enough customers to justify the $98 price tag anyway. I sold 4 books with my FB ad, so that come out to...about $24.50 per person. I could have sent out 20 free copies of the book for that amount.

4.Not negotiating the price terms of the ad with the Girl's Life people.
When the ad exec asked me what my budget was I gave her the high amount instead of the low amount because I felt like a small fry and wanted to impress her. What I should have done was ask her how much the ads cost first. Don't get me wrong; she's super nice and is willing to throw in all kinds of sweeteners but I'll always wonder if I could have gotten the deal for less.

3.Stopped sending out giveaway and interview request to YA book bloggers.
At one point I had 4 giveaways with bloggers going simultaneously. I was sending out 10 request per day and I got lazy and stopped. Now, I don't have any exposure out side of Goodreads.com going on right now. I have to be consistent with communicating with the bloggers, they are necessary and valuable and I dropped the ball.

2.Stopped editing.
I was supposed to be editing with my editor but I've spent so much time on social media that I forgot the whole point; THE BOOKS!
I mean, what the hell? I have a series and I stopped working on the most important thing. I can't be so involved in the marketing of the product that I forget about the product. I was trying to spend 2 hours a day on my editing. I'd read through a chapter and send it to my editor, wait for his notes and make corrections. But, I dropped the ball on that too. This lack of focus caused me to be late getting "junior year" out but I finally sent it off to be formatted and now I'm slowly working on editing "senior year" but at the pace I'm working, that'll be late too.
So, don't forget about the book!

1.Not spending quality time with my family.
How could I let this take over my life so much? I'm forgetting what's important; family, friends, myself. The lesson I learned last night was sobering; I spent a lot of energy on something that in the end didn't matter a whole hell of a lot and who did I turn to for help? my family. I went into this project determined to be a successful indie writer, I wanted to beat the odds, I was like the hare that comes charging out of the gate only to run out of steam right before the finish line. I'm only six weeks into this project, a lousy six weeks friends. I need to slow down, regroup and pace myself. And never forget what's important.

Now, since I'm forever the optimist, here are some of the finer points.
I met some kick ass writer friends who are supportive and sends me virtual hugs all of the time. Thanks guys.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wow! I feel stupid

I just have to vent, if you don't mind. I just did the dumbest thing ever. I accidentally deleted my Facebook "Like" page. I just spent $98 on a FB ad that was up and running for 3 weeks with 233 fans. I wanted to pause the ad but instead of pushing the "pause" button I accidentally pushed the "delete" button because I didn't have on my reading glasses. This is why old people shouldn't be allowed to use technology.