Category Archives: twitter

The business side of writing

At writers club this week, we had three great readers but still had time to spare.  That’s when Les B. brought up the article in the Wall Street Journal that an investment company is buying Barnes and Noble.  That got everyone talking about marketing and whether it’s better to get an agent and a publisher or to self-publish.

People in our group do both.  Some self-publish because they love the freedom.  And they still get enough sales to make them happy.  Some self-publish because they just want their books available for family and friends.  Two members are actively looking for agents.  That’s a nail biter job in itself.  And I self-publish AND have a publisher because I want to write two different kinds of mysteries, and I didn’t think I could get a taker for my supernatural series.  Let’s face it.  Some genres are a lot easier to sell than others.   And, to be honest, I wanted to see what would happen if I stuck Muddy River on Amazon on my own.  Ilona Andrews wrote a great post about the pros and cons of each: http://www.ilona-andrews.com/hybrid-authors/

Going it alone, though, means that it’s up to you to attract readers to your book.  And I think that’s getting harder to do.  True, writers have to work at promotion, even if they have a publisher, but they at least have some backup.  One thing you can do with or without a publisher is a blog tour.  Sometimes, they work.  Sometimes, they don’t.  But so far, Kensington has signed me up for a blog tour for every one of my books when they  come out.  The more work that goes into the blog tour, the better it is.  I’ve written 20+ individual pieces for a single blog tour before, so that each site has something unique to offer.  The one tour that only featured cover reveals and excerpts with a blurb wasn’t very effective.  Why would readers keep reading the same pitch over and over?

Advertising helps.  There are a crap load of books out there.  You need to find a way to get a reader to find yours.  Today, on twitter, I found a link to how to sell more books with Amazon ads.  I tried that once and bombed.  My friend tweaks her ad as she goes, and she’s been successful with it.  Here’s the article I found: https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/how-to-sell-more-books-with-amazon-ads-for-authors/

I’ve tried Facebook ads, but those are really hit and miss for me, too.  Still, you can invest $20 to boost your post and give it a go.  (I’d read the article on Amazon ads to get ideas first).

We all know that nothing beats BookBub, but trying to get a slot there takes a miracle or more.  And they’re expensive.  Luckily for me, Kensington put The Body in the Attic on Bookbub and they’re putting The Body in the Wetlands on it July 10.  I’m a lucky girl, and I know it.  Still, if you can’t get an ad, you can get some traction there.  I highly recommend becoming a BookBub partner, signing up and doing an author profile, listing the books you’ve written, and then–and this helps–recommending other authors’ books and reviewing them.  I recommend books under my name for urban fantasy–Judith Post (https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judith-post?list=reviews&review_step=search ) and under my pen name, Judi Lynn (https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judi-lynn)  The good news is that when people follow you on BookBub, BookBub sends them a notification when you add one of your own books to your book page.  That means, if you have 100 followers, an e-mail goes out to each of them when you publish a new book.  The more followers, the better!

I just paid for an ad for Mixing It Up with Mortals on BargainBooksy at Written Word Media and dropped the price of my book to 99 cents. https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/about-us/#  And it did what I wanted it to do.  It got the book in front of a lot of new readers.  It’s only the second book in the series, and I’m not expecting big results.  That usually takes a while, if you get lucky.  I’ve had luck advertising on The Fussy Librarian, too, but that site’s pickier–you have to have at least 10 reviews with a 4.0 average, and I didn’t have 10 reviews yet, (sigh), so I went with Booksy.  For The Fussy Librarian: https://www.thefussylibrarian.com/advertising

There are other things you can do to help promote yourself and your book.  I’m going to use Ilona Andrews again (because I read her on twitter).  She posts snippets of whatever book she’s working on, on her webpage and then feeds that onto twitter: http://www.ilona-andrews.com/working-on-hidden-legacy-5/

I do the same thing.  I use weebly to put up cover reveals, new books, and free chapters.  Then I feed that onto my twitter account.  I think of this page (my blog) as a way to reach writers, and my webpage as a way to reach readers.  C.S. Boyack includes little snippets and news about the books he’s writing on his blog, too.  I think it’s effect, but it takes both–posting the snippet AND linking it to twitter.  My webpage: https://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

C.S. Boyack’s posts:   https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2019/06/13/its-a-brain-purge/?fbclid=IwAR16n0RCckMZ-L3E-DxWF4H9jsxtJC5XzFsY3gNt6jEUhyfnKGjz6q7Bcoc   

Which brings me to three places that authors can promote themselves for free:

an author Facebook page  (Look up the Facebook page for some of your favorite authors and see what they do).

Twitter.  I make myself post something on twitter every day (at three different times, if I can) and to retweet some of the posts that I especially like.  And I always list book releases, cover reveals, and sales there.  Why not?  If you’re lucky, friends and others will retweet you and help spread the word.

Goodreads.  When I finish reading a book (and I can give it 3 or more stars), I write a review for both Bookbub AND Goodreads.

One last thing–and I know, I’ve written a tome this time, but I wanted to put in my 2 cents on marketing–, some authors have great luck with newsletters.  I haven’t done one yet.  Just haven’t gotten around to it.  But Story Empire wrote a decent article on it if you’re going to give one a try (and most authors do). https://storyempire.com/2019/06/07/how-to-tweak-your-newsletter/

One more thing, I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Debbie Macomber’s advice on how to launch your book when it comes out.  Yes, I’ve shared this before, but someone might have missed it.  And it’s good. https://insights.bookbub.com/book-launch-checklist-marketing-timeline-traditionally-published-authors/

Okay, I’m running out of ideas and steam.  You’re probably ready for me to shut it anyway.  I promise not to bombard you with marketing ideas again for a while.  But if you’ve tried something and it’s worked for you, please share it with the rest of us.  And happy writing!

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Hitting it Hard

My second Jazzi Zanders mystery comes out next Tuesday, April 23, and Kensington has been ON IT with the publicity and promotion.  When I published my six Mill Pond romances, they didn’t get much love, and I watched them sink lower and lower in sales and rankings every day.  It was sad and frustrating.  But Kensington restructured their publicity teams, and right now, I’m ecstatic with the pushes they’re giving my mysteries.  They even paid to put The Body in the Attic (Jazzi 1) on BookBub.

They’ve signed me up for a blog tour that starts on book two’s book birthday–April 23 and runs through May 2nd.  I love blog tours.  It’s a great way to meet readers and get feedback.  Bless book bloggers.  They do a lot of work and put in a lot of time to promote authors.  On the flip side, it takes a decent amount of work and time to get ready for a tour.  I lost count of how many 300 word blogs I’ve written, how many character interviews I’ve done, and how many Q & As.  Once the blog goes live, I try to visit every host who’s volunteered to support my book–sometimes up to three a day, and if someone comments on the blog, I try to respond.  This time, my publicist added something new.  I’m going to do an author chat from one to two p.m. on April 29 on Kensington’s Between the Chapters Facebook page.  That one makes me a little nervous.  I’ve never done one before, but I guess it’s time.

I mentioned before that I use canva.com to make twitter headers and twitter posts, as well as Facebook headers, to promote books.  I’ve done that for The Body in the Wetlands, too.  I started a countdown of days until the book goes up for sale and created a new twitter post with an image and a short blurb for each day.  I made a different twitter header for each month for the last six months.

I still don’t do everything Debbie Macomber suggested on her post for BookBub, but I do more than I used to.  I’ve shared her post here before, but in case it slipped past you, here it is again.  https://insights.bookbub.com/book-launch-checklist-marketing-timeline-traditionally-published-authors/?utm_source=guest-debbie-macomber&utm_medium=email.  And before I leave this week, I want to share one of the posts I created on canva for twitter.  And happy writing!  Have a wonderful Easter.The Body in the Wetlands, twitter 6

Hooks!

I’ve been posting words for #1linewed on twitter for a while now.  Do they help me sell books?  Maybe.  I have no idea, but once a week, Kiss of Death chooses a word that you’ve hopefully used in your WIP, and you can post that tiny section on twitter with the hashtag #1linewed.  I think it’s fun to share them and see what other authors have shared.  For example, for last Wednesday–the 5th–Kiss of Death posted:  Something different for our 12/5/18 THEME. Give us your best end of chapter **CLIFFHANGER** line. Hooks make a reader turn pages so show us what you’ve got! 

I have to admit, my wonderful critique partner, M.L. Rigdon, often catches mushy chapter endings in my manuscript and I have to beef them up, so the idea of LOOKING for cliffhangers worried me, especially in a first draft.  But bless Scribes, they’ve expounded the idea of hooks at the end of chapters so many times, I did better than I thought.  And they were easier to find than I’d first thought, too.  I just printed FIND for my manuscript and typed in Chapter, and ta-da!  I scrolled up to the end of the previous one and found my hooks pronto–something I should start doing on a regular basis when I polish my manuscripts.  For the end of chapter 1 in The Body in Apartment 2D, (what I’m working on now), I found:

 “Are you going to be okay?”

            Radley shrugged.  “You know Bain’s temper.  He’ll stew and grumble, then get over it in a while.”

            That’s when they heard a gunshot.  They all looked at each other, then raced for the stairs.

Not too shabby.  I posted it.  But I was curious now.  I looked at more of my chapter endings.  For the end of chapter 2, I found:

Jazzi’s heart sank.  She felt it shrivel and weep.  Bain.  Living with them.  And he’d be in a worse mood than usual.  But he was Ansel’s brother.  They couldn’t just leave him on the streets.  Could they?  No.  Shame on her.  But she wasn’t looking forward to spending time with Ansel’s oldest brother.

Not brilliant, but it would do.   At least for now.

Anyway, the whole exercise was a good reminder that EVERY chapter should end with some kind of hook, something to encourage the reader to turn the page.  I hope all of your chapters end well:)  I’m checking mine from now on.

Happy Writing!

Blog/webpage

A while ago, I blogged about trying to keep up with writing a blog AND a webpage.  At the time, I was behind on my writing and sweating a deadline, AND my publisher had sent me pages to proof.  I felt buried, but thanks to my awesome critique partners, I got everything done on time.  And I started rethinking what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. And, once again, I decided I like both the blog and the webpage for different reasons.  I’m not toting this as something any sane writer should do or even telling you that it will increase readers or boost sales.  I’m just saying that I like it–for me.

When I write my blog, I think about the craft and business side of writing.  When I first started working on the blog, I shared writing advice that worked for me.  But let’s be honest.  You can find writing how-to tips online from Chuck Wendig (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/), K.M. Weiland (https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/), and occasional articles by Stephen King (https://smartblogger.com/stephen-king/), so I feel a little out gunned.  Now, I don’t even pretend to be an expert, I just share what’s happening with my writing–the good, the frustrating, and the ugly.  I figure other writers can relate to most of it.  At the  moment, my third Mill Pond romance just came out, and I’m working on the sixth one in the series. My goal is to finish it, turn it in, and then squeeze in enough time to try to write a mystery. I have the mystery all plotted out, and I’d like to start working on it in January.  I’m thinking snow will be on the ground, temperatures will be cold, and I’ll be in the mood to hibernate and pound on my keyboard.  It sounds good on paper, doesn’t it?  My worry? When I write a romance, I have at least 40 plot points (or chapter ideas) to move the story and come up with 70,000 words–if I’m lucky. For my mystery?  I came up with 23 plot points, but they’re more involved, and I HAVE to have 70,000 words.  Will that work?  I sure as hell hope so.

When I go to my webpage, I switch gears.  When I write my webpage, I think of readers, not writers.  And it’s sort of my “spill” zone, where all the random, little ideas I have for characters or series that I can’t use in a book, spill out of my head.  For instance, when I wrote Wolf’s Bane, I fell in love with Wedge and Bull, the two werewolves who help Reece and Damian protect Bay City.  But they’re always supporting players, so I wanted to write short stories that featured each of them.  But what would I do with those stories?  Easy.  I’d put them on my webpage.  And sometimes, I put snippets from the novels I’m working on on it, too.  I even posted my one and only YA witch novel–The Familiars–on my webpage, because–why not?  Sometimes, I use my webpage as a place to experiment with writing techniques I’d never dare try in a full novel.  For Perdita’s Story, I wanted to write a story where the protagonist made one bad decision after another until the end.  I’d never do that for a book, but it was fun to play with for a short piece.  For Mill Pond, I introduced characters that would never get a full novel of their own, but I liked them and wanted to give them a happy-ever-after, so I did–in a short story.  Another thing I like to do on my webpage is introduce fellow writers whose work I like and think they might like, too.  In my  mind, when I go to my webpage, I think of readers more than writers.

As for marketing?  Well, I do my best, but I’m no wizard, so I post any new news on my author Facebook page or twitter.  It’s not the most efficient system, but it makes me concentrate on different areas of my writing:  fellow writers, readers, and marketing. Marketing, right now, is probably my weakest.  I still haven’t learned how to do rafflecoptors and give-aways, and I think I did better when I tried a blog tour and paid for advertising, but I’ve never had a publisher before, so I’m learning as I go.  One step at a time, right?  Hope you’ve found what works for you.  Happy writing!

My webpage: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/

My author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudiLynnwrites/

twitter:  @judypost

 

Fangirl moment

I need to pinch myself.  USA Today HEA did an interview with me for COOKING UP TROUBLE.  THAT was a big enough moment for me, but one of the questions was “What three romance writers do you fangirl about?”  I don’t fangirl very often.  I like to think I’m too practical, but I mentioned Nora Roberts–that woman can hang anything on a romance and make it work, Sarah Addison Allen–I love how lyrical her writing is, and Catherine Bybee–because she mixes it up and surprises me with what she adds to her romances.  And then I snuck in my friend Julia Donner–because I honestly think she writes some of the best male characters I read.  It was a fun interview.  I felt all giddy when I saw it on the USA Today site this morning.  But then, EVEN BETTER, Catherine Bybee retreated it and mentioned me on her twitter page.  Catherine Bybee herself!!  I’m going to float for the rest of today:)

If you’re interested, here’s the interview:

Interview: Judi Lynn, author of ‘Cooking Up Trouble’

Have you tried to make yourself sound interesting?

I’ve never worked with a book publisher before.  I’ve worked with editors of magazines and anthologies, and I’ve gotten feedback from my agent–the wonderful Lauren Abramo, who–by the way–looked at the last pitchmad on twitter.  Which means she’s looking for new writers, if you have a spare pitch lying around. But boy, is she picky. In a nice way.  All agents and editors are.  They know exactly what they’re looking for, so if they turn you down, it just means you’re not writing what they think they can sell.  Nothing personal.  They might have all the horror or fantasy writers that they can find homes for.  Writing’s a business.  It’s market driven.  It also means if you haven’t tried pitchmad or pitchwars or whatever kind of pitch tweets they’re into on twitter, you should.

Both editors and agents have the same goal in mind–to push your writing to its best and find something that’s saleable.  But when I signed with Kensington, I didn’t just get John Scognamiglio as my editor–which was lucky enough.  I got a whole team of talented people who are determined to get my name out there.  They’re great at promotion.  I’m not terrible, but I’m not wonderful either.  And sorry to say, promotion makes a big difference if you want readers to find your book.

I realized I’ve been a slacker at promotion when I got a list of questions to answer for Kensington to use on a book blog tour.  Every blog needed something unique to submit to its readers.  Absolutely fair.  A blogger is taking her time and being generous enough to do a sales pitch to her readers for my romance, COOKING UP TROUBLE.  Each blogger wants to offer her audience something special, just for them, that they can’t find somewhere else.  And I appreciate every single person who signed up to help me get the word out.

My only problem?  I quickly discovered that I’m a pretty boring person.  I spend a lot of each day in front of my computer, writing.  I love to cook, but if I revved up about that, most people would fall asleep.  My sisters would.  Their idea of food is take-out.  I have a few perennial gardens that bring me a lot of pleasure, but that doesn’t mean I keep them neat and tidy.  Kyra Jacobs, who was a guest on my blog last week, has well-tended, beautiful flower beds.  Me?  It comes down to survival of the fittest.  A rose bush has to want to live to bloom here.  I love to read, but I don’t even read as much as I used to, because I now divide my time between reading and writing.  Honestly, it’s hard to make me sound interesting.

While I answered questions for various blogs, it occurred to me that I’m not an expert at much of anything.  My cat and chihuahua sound like more fun than I do.  But then I remembered the poem About Ben Adhem, by Leigh Hunt–http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173698.  Maybe I don’t need to write about what I do or who I am, even though I’m happy to share, but the things that make me passionate are what I love.  And I have many loves, and those I can go on and on about.  And I did.

Have a wonderful Easter, (if you celebrate it), or holiday (if you don’t), and Happy Writing!

COOKING UP TROUBLE comes out April 12th.  The book blogs start soonCoockingupTrouble

 

 

 

Writing: Social Media

Last weekend, my friend and I drove to Indianapolis to attend a writers’ workshop given by Liliana Hart, hosted by Indiana’s RWA chapter. If you ever get a chance to hear Liliana Hart speak, jump at it. She’s awesome, but just listening to all of the work she does, writing and marketing, made me tired. She repeated to us over and over again that if you decide to self-publish, you have to think of yourself as a business.

You have to hire or beg a copy editor to go through your final draft to make sure there are as few mistakes as possible. You have to come up with a professional, eye-catching cover that lets the reader know the genre and tone of your story. And you have to map out a strategy. You try to write the best book you possibly can and then come up with ways to help readers find it. Because if you don’t do your homework, there are millions of books available. How will a reader find yours?

I’ve read Lindsay Buroker’s blog posts for a long time, and she and Liliana Hart gave some similar advice. Both said it’s hard to attract readers with one book. Both said it’s smarter to write at least three books and put them up in short order to attract an audience. Hart suggested having five ready to go. Readers like series. You can’t really do much creative advertising/promotion with one book. I’ve posted this before, but here it is again, in case you missed it: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/4318779-how-do-you-establish-a-fan-base-before-you-launch-your-book

Both Lindsay Buroker and Liliana Hart stressed having at least one series of your books on multiple sites. “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket,” both warned. Amazon makes it easy for authors to publish and promote with them, but Hart encouraged writers to try iBooks (with Apple). She warned it takes a year and a half for an author to get established there, so there’s no way to get rich quick, but readers on iBooks aren’t enticed by 99 cent, $1.99, or $2.99 books. They expect to pay more for better quality.

Both authors also encourage advertising your books. It doesn’t do much good to promote a book if you only have one available. The real benefit comes when readers download your first book and look for more in the series. The trick is finding an advertising site that works for you. I’ve had good luck with The Fussy Librarian, but my friend who writes Regency romance has better luck with Ereader News Today. So it depends. Bookbub is wonderful, but it’s hard to get an ad there.

I’ve often wondered how effective social media is for selling books. Quite a few authors lately have posted that they might have lots of followers, but there’s not a lot of carry-over in sales. For me, that’s a little disheartening. Social media, it seems, connects writers with fellow writers, but it’s hard to connect with readers who’ll enjoy your genre and books. Tweeting, blogging, and having an author’s facebook page helps, but they warn to spend more time writing the next novel than losing time on social media. Their message? Don’t spend so much time playing on social media that you don’t WRITE.

I’ve heard over and over again that the most effective way to promote your work is by connecting with readers who like your books by offering an e-mail newsletter. I’ve done a crappy job on this. I started a newsletter, using Mail Chimp, but I didn’t think it through enough. Liliana Hart didn’t mince words. “If you don’t offer them something special, why should they join?” I sent the readers who signed up for mine updates and news, but I need to offer more. Hart suggested contests, where the winners get free books, etc. Buroker does the same. Hart goes a step further and has a “street team,” fans who’ll spread news about new books and novellas she writes through word of mouth. Quite a few romance writers have street teams. They send them swag–bookmarks, pens with a new release’s title on it, etc.–to pass out and spread the word.

If you choose to self-publish, remember that you’ll also have to self-promote. That doesn’t mean tweeting your book over and over again on twitter. It means connecting with readers somehow without sounding like spam. If any of you have found ways that work for you, I’d be happy to hear them. And the most important thing–Happy Writing!

P.S.
I put a new short-short on my webpage: Nadine’s Story: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
My author’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudithPostsurbanfantasy
On twitter: @judypost