BOOKTASTIK: Helping Authors Sell Books

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BOOKTASTIK: Helping Authors Sell Books by Dionne Lister

Hi, Lisette, thanks so much for having me as a guest today. I’m excited to be here representing a fun new site that connects readers with books — Booktastik.

Did you know that there are hundreds of thousands of new ebooks being published each year? So if you’re an author, it’s obviously becoming harder and harder to get your book to stand out from the crowd. As a self-published author, I know the difficulty in getting a book noticed — if no one knows your book exists, they’re not going to buy it.

In my desperate scramble to sell books, I’m always looking for new ways for my books to be seen. I’ve tried a few different avenues; including guest blog posts, interviews, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts and paid advertising. Paid advertising has given me the largest sales numbers, but there aren’t many sites that actually work. And if you Google “advertising for authors” there’s not much out there to point you in the right direction.

Call me crazy, but I’ll share with you the site that has worked for me, the site I consider Booktastik’s largest competitor: Bookbub. If you’ve been around the traps as an author, you probably know someone who’s used them — and they work. But how does it work? Well, readers sign up for free to receive a daily email for books on sale in genres they choose. When an author pays to advertise with them, your book goes in a once-only email and appears on their website. That’s it. Simple.

booktastik

The problem is that they are pricey — a few months ago I advertised my Fantasy book, which was on sale for $1.99. That cost me $270, and since then the cost has risen to $330 — figures that not many self-published authors can afford (and fantasy is a cheaper genre than, say, mystery or romance), especially if you’re just starting out. To add to that, the last three times I’ve applied, I’ve missed out, and it’s also been impossible for most of my friends to get approved because Bookbub is always booked out.

How annoying! I’d finally found something that worked, but now that avenue seemed to be closed too. Trying not to get depressed at times like that is hard, so I was having a rant to another author friend about my frustrations (ranting to other author friends who understand is a great way to keep your sanity). During that conversation I said something that set me on the course towards Booktastik: “It’s just not fair. If you want anything done, you have to do it yourself. I’m going start my own company so us indie authors have somewhere to advertise!” And so the journey to creating Booktastik began.

I knew that if I was going to do this, I had to do it better and offer more than what was currently out there. I contacted a web designing friend of mine and told her what I wanted — a friendly, welcoming site that didn’t just deliver ebook deals, but had other relevant stuff like vetted book reviews and a blog. I pictured Booktastik becoming a community, rather than solely a middleman. I also knew that authors didn’t just need a place to advertise a book that was on sale or free, but we often wanted to get the word out about our new release or competitions and giveaways, so I added those categories, which have been very popular with the subscribers.

I know no one really wants to know the nitty-gritty of what it takes, but we spent months designing the site and getting it functional (with a few nightmares along the way), although if it was easy, I guess everyone would do it. We’re spending money on advertising to get subscribers who authors can’t normally reach — readers who are outside the social media sphere of Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, and I’m happy to say that after just one month we are getting over 500 visits a day (and growing), and we’re already selling books for our advertising authors.

And that’s our story so far. We’ve got exciting plans for stage two of Booktastik, but that will have to wait a while. But right now, I’d like to extend an invitation to you all to come and check out www.booktastik.com. There’s lots to see and read, and I hope you love our little animal icons (there’s one for each genre) as much as I do. See you there!

 Follow Booktastik on Twitter

 Like Booktastik on Facebook

-1ABOUT DIONNE LISTER

An avid reader of many genres, including fantasy, for as long as she can remember, Dionne also loves writing and has attempted to emulate such greats as David Eddings and Raymond Feist – with … interesting results. Dionne has studied creative writing at Southern Cross University, works as an editor, runs Booktastik, and counts cats and panthers as her favourite animals and dragons as her favourite flying creature (notice ‘flying’ not ‘mythical’). Dionne writes young adult fantasy, women’s fiction and thriller/suspense. In 2013 iTunes Australia named her one of ‘ten emerging fantasy authors you must read.’ You can find out more about Dionne and her work at www.dionnelisterwriter.com.

 

Chat with Dionne Lister here at Lisette’s Writers’ Chateau

Doris

Who would you turn to if your love life, or life in general was a mess? Jemma’s not sure, but she’s lucky that Doris is looking out for her. Who’s Doris? Doris is Jemma’s vagina, and she’s determined to help Jemma put her life on track, but is the job too much for one vagina to handle?

Meet Doris, Jemma and their friends in this hilarious romance/chick lit. Here’s what some readers had to say:

A delightful, funny, and heart-warming read!

…a charming book, fast-paced and funny, with a very brave concept.

 

Close Call: A Doris & Jemma Vadgeventure

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A Winning e-Strategy for Authors

 

A Guest Post

by Deborah Nam-Krane

As writers our primary job is to write, and every credible marketing expert I have spoken to says that content is much more important than any Search Engine Optimization tweaking we can do. But self-publishing is just like any other new job or new business—networking is important if we want to find new opportunities.

There are three places we all must be, and surprisingly those have been constant for about three years (an eternity in web-years): a Twitter account, a Facebook page and a blog. As far as I’m concerned, all other platforms are gravy. But simply setting up those accounts isn’t enough. You have to tweet on Twitter, update your status on Facebook and write posts on your blog.

And then you’re done?

No. Because you can write the most brilliant content the internet has ever seen, but if you’re not interacting with anyone else, the chances are small that anyone is going to find it.

If you’ve been on Twitter for any amount of time, you’ve run into at least one person who tweets several times per hour about how great his or her product or book is. “My book is so awesome!” “Check out my five-star review!” “Look at how great I am!” I always cringe when I see this, because it’s exactly the wrong approach and doesn’t convince anyone of anything except that you really want to sell something—and that can just come off as desperate if you and I don’t already have a relationship.

A better approach on Twitter? Find people with similar interests and start reading what they have to say. Don’t jump in with a reply or to start a conversation until you can say something relevant to something they’ve put out there. I guarantee, that person will be much more receptive to your thoughtful, personalized approach than they would to your advertising blast.

Facebook has been compared to the mall on more than one occasion, and not in a flattering way. It’s bad enough that they sting us with advertisements and selectively decide what we can see; don’t make it worse by trying to turn your page into a billboard. Don’t just post links to your book or blog; talk about what you’ve been doing that day (as it relates to your writing); share news and information that might be relevant to your fans; and finally, share information for other people. Even better? Comment on other people’s pages and have a genuine conversation.

Finally, your blog. This is where the c-word (that would be content, in case you’re wondering) is most important, if only because it’s easier for people to skate through your blog archives than it is your Twitter and Facebook accounts. But even on blogs, it’s not enough to write great content: you need to interact. Want people to comment on your blog? Then start commenting on theirs, and not simply, “wow, great post!” but something that shows you read and were paying attention.  But please, I beg you, don’t comment with something along the lines of “How are you doing?” I talked about exactly this on my blog, “http://myblogisbetterthanyours.com/ImTheMostImportantThingOnTheInternet.” Because in addition to irritating everyone else who reads the comments, you’re also not going to convince anyone that you are all that and a slice of toast.

Want to take it to the next level? Then start thinking like a small business person again and figure out what your value proposition is. In other words, what do you have that most other people on the internet don’t, and why should anyone care about your opinion? How can you be useful to the people you’re trying to talk to? Do you have a collection of helpful writing prompts? Have you been following a certain aspect of publishing? Do you have a collection of articles on editing or formatting? Tips on how to break through writer’s block? Then share them—and your thoughts on them. Do it consistently and people will start to think of you as a trusted resource that they’ll be on the lookout for—and eventually may seek out.

In some ways, social media is a lot like real networking: be polite, pleasant and useful, and people will want to be around you. And the more people are around you, the more likely they are to offer you help, whether it’s being hosted on their blogs, sharing information about your work (the best advertising is still word of mouth) or letting you know about opportunities to publish. And if you should happen to make some genuine friends? The possibilities are endless.

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Deborah Nam-Krane was born in New York, raised in Cambridge and educated in Boston. Her series The New Pioneers debuted in March of 2013 with the release of her first book,  The Smartest Girl in the Room. The sequel The Family You Choose will be released in late September.

 

SmartestGirl

Nineteen-year-old Emily wants her college diploma fast, and she’s going to get it. But when the perfect night with perfect Mitch leads her to a broken heart, Emily is blind to her vulnerability. When the person she cares about the most is hurt as a result, Emily’s ambition gives way to more than a little ruthlessness. She’s going to use her smarts to take care of herself and protect the people she loves, and everyone else had better stay out of her way. But shouldn’t the smartest girl everyone knows realize that the ones she’d cross the line for would do the same for her?

 

FamilyUChoose

Miranda Harel has been in love with her guardian, Alex Sheldon, since she was five years old, and Michael Abbot has despised them both for just as long. When Miranda finds out why she wants both men out of her life for good and questions everything she believed about where and who she came from. Finding out the truth will break her heart. Without family or true love, will her friends be enough?

CONNECT WITH DEBORAH

Please join her mail list to find out first about new releases and connect with Deborah on any of the following sites:

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STAY OUT OF YOUR CHARACTER’S HEADS

A Guest Blog

by M. S. Kaye

Fight Princess blog tour September 2nd – 9th: on an adventure to meet fun bloggers and readers!

Staying out of the characters’ heads is the most momentously important thing I’ve learned about how to “show, not tell.”

Obviously, sometimes offering a morsel of a character’s thoughts is instrumental in helping the reader understand, but it should be limited to one morsel. If you have to write a paragraph of explanation, you need to find a better way to show the information in action or dialogue.

Or simply cut the information—oftentimes, leaving something unsaid is more powerful. Ask yourself if the information is invaluable, if it truly impacts the story. If it’s not essential, CUT IT.

And even better: keeping to only morsels of thoughts can be intriguing. People think in segments naturally, so choose to offer intriguing bits, just enough to pique the reader’s curiosity, without explaining too much. This is what keeps readers flipping pages. See the below opening to Fight Princess:

“What if I told you I loved you?” Floyd the bartender asked as he rested his elbows on the ring-stained mahogany.

Celisse was standing across the bar from him. “You love sex, Floyd.”

“There’s a difference?” Floyd grinned.

Celisse rolled her eyes. She really didn’t know if there was a difference. “Blackberry—” she started.

“Whiskey,” Floyd finished. He stood straight and poured her usual shot.

In these five paragraphs, only one sentence expresses a thought. She really didn’t know if there was a difference. Now you know something about Celisse’s love life, something powerful and interesting—and only that one sentence hinted to it. Also, notice the sentence does not go on, does not continue with that evil word “because.” I would say “because” is as dirty as a four-letter word, but four-letter words are generally more impactful. It is almost always better to cut the sentence short. “Because” takes away the intrigue. Let the reader wonder, leave them feeling curious.

And speaking of “show, not tell,” what else do you learn about Celisse? She can brush a man off with ease, and without being a bitch. That shows the kind of person she is. It also shows she’s likely attractive. We find out she’s discriminating, not slutty. And, of course, her usual shot is whiskey: she’s a tough-ass. All of this was conveyed without diving into the character’s thoughts.

Notice the overlapping of information. We hear so much today about multitasking—people are used to several things going on at once, and they can be impatient if not much is happening. If you have information you want to convey, try to find a way to give the information while other necessary events are going on.

If you choose to show strong details, your writing will be impactful and addicting. Hearing soliloquies about a character’s childhood, and how she feels about herself, and how she adores the guy down the hall is not impactful. If your character is gazing out a window THINKING, cut the scene, decide if the information is necessary, and if it is, find a way to show it.

Read my latest book to see how my method works…

FightPrincess

Fight Princess – Published by Liquid Silver Books

Things aren’t what they seem. Don’t get involved.

Celisse is too headstrong to listen. Her best friend’s boyfriend is dead, and she does not heed Cullen’s warning, slipped to her in a note as he’s being arrested for the murder.

Cullen tries to keep Celisse out of danger and also tries to avoid her, both unsuccessfully. He can’t deny his feelings for her anymore, but he knows if she ever discovered the truth about his past, she’d surely hate him.

While struggling with her intense feelings for Cullen, Celisse uses her skills as an ex-prosecutor to investigate, all while continuing to fight for Ogden, the organizer of an underground fight ring. She eventually realizes things are connected—the ring, Ogden, Cullen, the murder, and herself. She races to uncover the truth before she’s arrested or becomes the next victim—or perhaps, the next culprit.

EXCERPT

Through the peephole she saw Cullen staring her down, as if he could see through the door. “I know you’re in there, Celisse. Your car’s outside.”

Celisse grumbled under her breath. Then she spoke loud enough for him to hear. “How do you know where I live?”

“It’s not that hard to get a person’s address—as you damn well know.”

Crap. How did he know? “What are you talking about?”

“You made it downtown so quickly because you were already in my apartment.” His jaw flexed as he continued to glare at the door. She was almost impressed he was able to maintain that intense, pissed-off posture and expression when she saw in his eyes that he was barely hanging on through the exhaustion. Like riding a bike, if he stopped, he would probably fall down.

She turned the bolt and opened the door. “How would I have gotten in your apartment—and why would I want to?”

“You flashed a beautiful smile at Alfie. Don’t tell me you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.”

Celisse hesitated. Hearing him say that… She wasn’t sure how to react.

He pushed the door open a bit further and slid past her into the apartment. She didn’t think to stop him until he was already past her. She turned and looked at him standing in the middle of her little living room, like a storm cloud in her usually calm and cloudless space. This small, cheap apartment was the first place she had ever lived where she felt completely comfortable.

She realized he was looking at her, not at her eyes. She crossed her arms over her chest. “What do you want?”

His jaw tightened again, and he met her eyes like lightning flashing across the sky. “Don’t ask me why in the hell you’d want to be in my apartment.”

It took her a second to realize he was answering her previous question.

“What did you think you’d find?” he asked.

“Certainly not stacks of hundred-dollar bills.”

“It’s none of your goddamn concern how much money I have and why. Stay out of my business.”

“No.”

“Excuse me?”

“My best friend’s boyfriend was murdered, and then the accused slips me a note that says things aren’t what they seem. What did you think I was going to do?”

He paused, and the glare in his expression that had about blinded her a few seconds ago dulled to the glower of the moon in a clouded sky. He turned and looked around her apartment—her TV stand with a couple movies on top, the potted plant next to the sliding glass doors, her one pathetic attempt at gardening, and then over to the bookshelf where he started reading titles.

She stood next to him. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Does it annoy you?” He took a book from the shelf and flipped through its pages. “Someone going through your things, invading your privacy?”

Celisse snatched the book out of his hand, before he realized what it was.

“Are you pissed yet?” he asked.

“I wonder how it would look to the court if the police were called on you the same day you posted bail.”

He took a step toward her, and she backed up with her hands in guard position.

He stopped, and his voice was inside out from what it had been. “I would never hurt you.”

“You were arrested for murder today.”

His expression sobered, like fog pulling across a jagged cliff face. “I’m sorry. I never meant to scare you.” He walked across her living room, out the door, and down the stairs.

MSKaye

M. S. Kaye has won several writing awards and has been published in literary journals. She is a 4th-degree black belt and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo. A transplant from Ohio, she resides in Jacksonville, FL with her husband, Corey, where she does her best not to melt in the sun.

CONTACT M.S. KAYE

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KOOMKEY: A Community of Givers Paying It Forward

 

by Joseph Lacko

Even the most carefully outlined project can surprise us with unexpected turns and unforeseen adventures. It is the nature of creativity.

When I created Koomkey, the only method of sending unsolicited cash to people through Twitter, I experienced a few of these surprises.

If you’re new to the concept, Koomkey enables you to send what we call, “Kashkeys” to other people, in values between 25 cents to 10 dollars, without creating any sort of new account. Think of it as a virtual tip jar sitting on your worktable.

When Twitter followers appreciate the efforts you make in social media, or admire your offline creative outpouring, a quick “Kashkey” of encouragement can be sent your way.

Throughout development, I told myself: “I know what I see as the usefulness of this tool, but I will always be ready for the different ways social media users ultimately take it.”

When we launched Koomkey July 1, 2013, the Twitter users who’d tweeted, “How do I turn my social media efforts into cash?” didn’t respond. In fact, some of them blocked me.

My wife, Rebecca, began her own venture, offering “latte & muffin” cash to her favorite authors. And there was my surprise; the first niche to latch on to the power of Koomkey’s usefulness was the writing community. Now I have befriended more wordsmiths than I ever imagined I might.

It makes sense. The intention of Koomkey is to empower social media users to instantly support others on a reasonable scale. This fits perfectly into the intimate world of writers networking and building an author platform.

KoomKey

More useful than merely clicking, “Like,” a humble thanks in the form of 25 cents can quickly add up. Anyone who sells a product in units—books, for instance—understands how quickly small numbers can snowball. Kashkeys are real income earned simply by maintaining your current online platform through social media.

If just 10% of your Twitter followers sent you a quarter, or maybe a dollar this month, and every month, how would it benefit you?

I’ve discovered the unexpected joy of joining others in giving heartfelt $10 Kashkeys to an author who found herself in a sudden bind. Together, we helped a stranger in need, and now count her among our friends. I have personally found the writing community the most receptive to random acts of generosity.

It stems from one of the key principles that went into the creation of the service: allowing people to simply be themselves and get financially rewarded for it.

Relationships are the cornerstone of social media. Readers love to interact with writers. In our first month of operation, two book fans, strangers in different countries, connected with their favorite author on Twitter using Koomkey. An exchange of Kashkeys was sent between them, and this small gesture was so appreciated, the fans teamed up to support the author’s Blog Tour of her latest book release. Their enthusiasm and partnership amazed me, and I was happy to donate Kashkey prizes for contests offered throughout the author’s tour.

What has been created in Koomkey is a simple way to cheer on a hard working writer, artist, charity, comic, blogger–whoever inspires us. Koomkey users have sent donations to favorite charities, students struggling to make ends meet, and educational programs in need of funding. Other Koomkey users notice these donations and join in giving—to both the worthy cause, and the original giver. I look forward to the time when a 25-cent Kashkey is as common as a retweet.

Signing up is as easy as logging in at www.koomkey.com with your Twitter handle and password. Claiming your cash is a matter of one click. You can use your funds received to send Kashkeys to others, or direct the money to your bank. It’s your choice.

If you have only a quarter or two to spare, try it. I challenge you to brighten someone’s day using Koomkey.

CONNECT WITH JOSEPH AND REBECCA

Koomkey

Joseph on Twitter

Rebecca on Twitter

How It Works

Why send someone cash for no apparent reason? (by Joseph Lacko)

Connecting, Writing, and Paying It Forward with Koomey (by Rebecca Lacko)

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WHEN YOU ASSUME… part 2 in the series EDITING: MORE THAN I BEFORE E.

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“When you assume, you make an ASS of U and ME”

By Laura Daly

When you’re editing, whether it’s your own work or someone else’s, you may find there are common problems in the writing that boil down to this: assumptions being made about what readers know.

Readers don’t know what you know. They don’t have plot outlines in front of them, detailed character sketches and descriptions of scenes. With a nonfiction book, other than an index and a table of contents, they may not understand fully what the scope of your book is. They don’t know what’s coming up, what’s happened before page 1, what’s possibly going to happen in the epilogue. If they’re reading a nonfiction book—a biochemistry textbook, for instance—they don’t know that a term that comes up in chapter 2 is going to be fully defined in chapter 6, so they don’t have to worry that in chapter 2 they’re totally lost in the language. Whether you’re dealing with a work of fiction or nonfiction, you owe it to your readers to set up scenes, set up information, fill them in on what you know.

Readers, for instance, won’t know what something looks like until you describe it, which doesn’t mean you have to go into minute detail, but you do have to establish the details so that THEY MAKE SENSE. They won’t know, for instance, why the protagonist, Joe Blow (Who’s he?), got in the car (What car? Where? How? Why?) and drove to Slobville (From where?) to visit a sick friend, Thelma (Who?), who lives on the block near the abandoned factory that has the big ready-to-crumble smokestack that … Where were we? And it’s not because you’re the omniscient narrator and know all, and therefore they couldn’t possibly know what you know. I mean they don’t have the facts, Jack.

{Yeah, I know, creative writers in Iowa are waving minimalism banners right now. But, see, minimalism, or the lack of details, has to have a point. And not providing details—information, definitions, description, context—can be really annoying to readers when there isn’t a point to the writing and when the lack of details is because of a writer’s (fill in the blank) sloppiness/laziness/ignorance.)

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Readers don’t know about your characters, for example, their backgrounds and traits. And by characters, I’m not just thinking of fictional characters. For me, living, breathing people in works of history are characters who, even if they’re well known, need to have details established—personality traits, say, or events in early life that can be seen as influencing the person’s later decisions. A common approach taken in historical biographies these days is to assume that readers are already fully familiar with a figure’s general life facts, so there’s no need for the writer to review them. I understand that not every biography should be a multivolume work, but I wonder how helpful it is to not set facts within a context, to instead assume that readers know that context and can make their own connections.

I’ve come across this same problem in memoirs. Now, in a memoir, the reason why details aren’t given may be because the subject doesn’t want to spill the beans on everything or doesn’t quite remember the events or wants to gloss over details that are, oh, embarrassing. But a memoir should feel honest to readers, and that means details should be connected and built on, and readers’ familiarity shouldn’t be assumed. A guy can’t be describing with relish his bachelorhood and sexual exploits with numerous womenfolk in various parts of the country while on the road with his band, say, then throw in, “By the way, I got married.” To whom? When? More importantly, why? Then the wife doesn’t show up again until five chapters later, when wife number 2 comes on the scene after the divorce. Say what?

Set up details early so that later details have a context, have meaning.

This assumption problem reminds me of a pithy rebuke by Felix Unger in an episode of “The Odd Couple”:

“When you assume, you make an ASS of U and ME.”

(A friend of mine recently groused that he never agreed with Unger’s dictum: “The first part makes sense. But how does what U do make ME look bad? It’s on U.”)

Whether we agree with what Mr. Unger says or not, we can all agree that making assumptions can be very bad in writing. Don’t do it.

Oh, and don’t be an ass.

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Laura Daly, a freelance editor, writer, and proofreader based in Maywood, NJ, has worked on fiction and nonfiction trade books, textbooks, trade magazines, and journals. She can be reached at laurajdaly@earthlink.net.

It’s Only Logical: part 1 in the series EDITING: MORE THAN I BEFORE E.

 


It’s Only Logical: part 1 in the series EDITING: MORE THAN I BEFORE E
by Laura Daly

Tomorrow is the last day of Words Matter Week, so it seems appropriate to start a blog entry on editing and writing. My friend Lisette had suggested a while ago that because I’ve been a freelance editor since 1984, I might have some knowledge, tidbits, tricks of the trade, or advice to give on the subject. I believe my initial reaction to her was “Huh?” because, from my perspective, I’m still learning how to be an editor. The longer I work at it, the more I realize how much I don’t know, how much there is for me to learn. But she persisted, and I can never say no to Ms. Brodey, so, what the heck, I’ll give it a shot and put out some ideas and offer some suggestions and probably some two-bit opinions that I hope may be helpful.

Where to begin: Well, I think I’ll start with internal logic and why it’s a very good thing to watch for in any writing. Now, I’m not using the term in the strict Introduction to Aristotelian Logic sense. I mean it in the sense of maintaining coherency and consistency. So, for example, when writing a work of fiction, that means paying attention to the details: the descriptions of characters, their backgrounds, their traits (character A is X, Y, and Z); the main developments in the plot and their relations to each other (plot point B happens because of points C and D, which are foreshadowed by point E); the time, both within the actual boundaries of the plot and before and after the storyline (plot point F occurs at X location on the story’s timeline); the locations—where events in the narrative take place, where characters are from or are going, that kind of thing (character G came from place H and currently is in place I and will wind up in place J); and the influences on the storyline, or why things occur (plot point K happens because of L, M, and N). (Being a J school grad, I resorted, if you noticed, to calling on the 5Ws: the who, what, when, where, and why of the story.)

CandleGlassBook

Writers have different ways of keeping track of these details. Many do up copious lists, outlines, and descriptions, per character or chapter or major developments in the plot. Some do character sketches that may include details that never make their way into the story but that act as biographies for characters and help to keep traits, descriptions, and so on, clear. For a story covering a particular period of time, whether 24 hours or 3 months or 200 years, a timeline showing the plot points is helpful. Not all of these recorded details may wind up in the final story, but they help a writer stay true to the characters and the plot.

Editors can keep track, for instance, of descriptions of characters: Susie, 24, blonde, lives in Aberdeen, Maryland, hates crab, came from Dubuque; Butch, 39, wears flannel shirts, speaks with a drawl, once worked as a carny; plot point O takes place on planet Zoltar, which is two light-years from Boldorf—whatever details the author provides. With an involved storyline, editors may want to keep some notes or rely on the very helpful find feature in Word. Also, quick fact checking is very important and useful (even though publishers these days don’t seem to bother having fact checkers on staff). I’ve been asked to submit lists of characters, with descriptions, along with place names, as part of style sheets. As a matter of course for works of nonfiction, I keep lists of place names and proper names, along with a basic timeline, when needed. I also do fact checks, which are speeded up thanks to online sources. (A discussion on finding reliable sources might be good for another blog entry down the road.)

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More importantly, things have to make sense within the context of the work. They have to be logical, even if a story itself is not meant to be realistic. So, for instance, a character who is in his late 20s in a story, which takes place now, can’t have been the set designer for a movie from 1985; that would mean he would have to be at least in his 50s, unless he was a child genius set designer, in which case he could be in his 40s. (This kind of discrepancy actually came up in a recent project.) A villain who is creeping up the stairs to a second-floor bedroom can’t suddenly be downstairs in the basement burying a body unless a gap in time is acknowledged in the story. An Edwardian gentleman can’t recite “In Flanders Fields.” You get the idea.

So, the lesson today is be consistent, be coherent, be logical. Oh, and don’t forget: words matter.

If you’ve come across odd internal logic problems in anything you’ve read recently or want to share some ideas on how you maintain internal logic in your own writing or editing, join the discussion.

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Laura Daly, a freelance editor, writer, and proofreader based in Maywood, NJ, has worked on fiction and nonfiction trade books, textbooks, trade magazines, and journals. She can be reached at laurajdaly@earthlink.net.

PROMOTIONAL TIPS FOR AUTHORS: Reaching Out to Readers, by Jaidis Shaw

I’m extremely honored to have author and publicist Jaidis Shaw to present the first guest blog at Lisette’s Writers’ Chateau. Jaidis is not only multi-talented at all that she does, but she is one of the nicest, most professional, and most competent professionals that I have dealt with in the writing world.

You can read Jaidis’ complete bio at the end of her blog and enter to win a one-week book tour from Jaidis, which can be claimed any time from February to July, 2013. And now:

PROMOTIONAL TIPS FOR AUTHORS: Reaching Out to Readers,

by Jaidis Shaw

      You’ve poured sweat, grumbled in frustration, shed the tears, and ended with one heck of an awesome happy dance. I am, of course, talking about the moments leading up to seeing your hard work turned into a novel that is now published and available for the world to see. For debut authors, that one moment when you see your book cover on Amazon is forever seared into your brain. You are able to float on your euphoric high for days, sometimes even weeks. All of your friends and family have shown their support by purchasing a copy of your book. Then the inevitable happens. Your sales start declining, you haven’t seen a new review in days (no matter how often you refresh the page), your breathing becomes labored, and you’re positive that your heart is showing signs of cardiac arrest. A wave of self-doubt crashes over you and all of the positive comments you’ve received so far are overshadowed by the looming question: Why isn’t my book selling?

If you’re an author and are still trying to navigate the depths of the self-publishing world, you may be struggling with how to promote your book. Where do I start? Do I have to have an agent? Should I have tried finding a publisher to pick up my novel rather than self-publish? It is only natural to doubt our decisions, especially when we are feeling lost and confused. If you did go the self-publishing route, or even if you just want to do your part to promote your work, I’m here to tell you that promoting your book isn’t as daunting as it may appear. Maybe all you need is a little nudge in the right direction.

Most of the tips today say that the ultimate goal for authors is to sell books. Well I do agree that is a good goal to have, I disagree with it being the “ultimate” goal. The reason being is that I believe the most important goal for authors is to have people reading their books. After all, if nobody is reading your book, it isn’t going to keep selling. So what is a good place to start? For the sake of time, let us assume that you have already started making your mark on social media platforms by doing things like creating a Facebook Fan Page, joining Twitter, and having a blog or website. So, before the launch and release parties, before the book tours, it is important to reach out to bloggers and book reviewers.  I’ve put together a list of tips and topics that I believe are important to remember while reaching out to potential reviewers … and just remember … you want them to be “Reading” your book.

      Reviewers: If you are just now stepping into the book world, you may not be aware of how numerous book reviewers are these days. But with a simple search on sites like Goodreads, BookBlogs, or even Google, you will have a list of reviewers at your fingertips. If you happen to know a member of the reviewer community, another option is to reach out to them. Nine times out of ten, they will know of other bloggers that are open to receiving review requests. Several lists have been compiled of book blogs that serve as a wonderful starting point for gathering potential reviewers.

      Email: It is important to have an email that is set up properly. This should probably go without saying but it is one of the main issues that I see repeatedly. I feature between three to five authors a week on my blog and I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when I’m trying to find the author’s materials and have a hard time locating them because their email starts with something random like Bestselling_Author_1 or CrazyWriter4Books. Not only does having an email like that make more work for the blogger/reviewer but is less likely to be remembered. It is best to pick something straightforward and easy to memorize; more specifically your name. For example, my email is JaidisShaw@yahoo.com. Anyone who is looking to email me, feature me, etc simply has to begin typing my name and there it is.

Another issue I see authors guilty of is loading their email signatures down with tons of links and images. It is best to keep all graphics out of your signature. The main reason I think this is important is because the graphics tend to show up as attachments; I know that most times they do for me in Yahoo. When I am searching through for an interview for example, I am looking for the paperclip icon that indicates that email has an attachment and it wastes time having to go through the ones that only have graphics in the signature. Simply having your name, email, blog/website URL, and link to your Amazon Author Page is more than sufficient.

      Ask: If you are still a little hesitant on emailing a potential reviewer, or just want to test the waters first, simply ask if anyone would like to provide an honest review of your book. Send out a tweet, post a status update on Facebook, or even write a blog post about it. It really is as easy as saying “Would anyone be interested in receiving a free eBook copy of my book in exchange for an honest review?”  You will almost always have a few takers and people that will share your post to help spread the word.

      Details: You may be wondering what details to include in your initial email to reviewers. There are two parts to this one. The first part is to attach a media kit. These are a simple way to organize and keep track of all your important details. You can use a template for these so once you have the information gathered; all you have to do is attach it to your email request. Some details that should always appear in your media kit are the following: author photo and bio, book cover and synopsis, a short PG-13 excerpt (300 – 500 words), and links to where you and the book can be found (Amazon Author Page, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads).

The second part is what to include in the body of the email. After your personal opening and initial request, it is nice to provide them with the book’s details including synopsis, genre, total word count, publication date, publisher, giveaway details (discussed later) and any content warnings or age restrictions that the book may contain. You do not need to include your author bio and links (unless you want to) since they appear in the media kit. Your email should focus on the book and not you as an author because the reviewer isn’t judging you as a person, but your book.

Do not include the book you want reviewed! You may think that this helps the process move along faster when in actuality it halts the process and results in you sending out books that will likely never be read. Most unsolicited books may be downloaded for future use but if they didn’t agree to review it, you’ll be lucky to hear back from them. In fact, most blogs have a policy on unsolicited books that are received, a subject I’ll be covering in the next tip.

      Instructions: For the love of books, please follow the instructions for each individual blogger! Each reviewer has their own way of doing things: specific genres they like, what information they include in their reviews/posts, formats accepted for review, etc. With so many requests being received, they will almost always give priority to those who follow the instructions and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity because you didn’t take time to find out what they want/like.

      No Bulk Requests: I know that it may be tedious to email reviewers individually but it is a necessity. If you want a reviewer to take time out of their schedule to give your book an honest review, the least you can do it take an extra minute to personalize an email to them. Don’t open your email with a simple “Hey,” “Dear To Whom It May Concern,” or with the blog’s title. Show the blogger some courtesy and that you are reaching out to them as an individual. Don’t know their name? Simply visit the blog in question and look on the “About” page. Most have a name that they go by and if they do, use that. If absolutely no name can be found, then you may have to address them by their blog title (but only as a last resort).

      Giveaways: Everyone loves a great giveaway! Featured author posts or reviews posted on blogs almost always receive more traffic when there is a giveaway involved. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant: a copy of your book, swag, or electronic Amazon Gift Card for example. Simply let the reviewer/blogger know in your initial request that you are willing to offer a giveaway to their readers if they’d like. Other than bringing in more traffic, another great thing giveaways help with is bringing you new followers. Most of the time entries for the giveaway will be tasks like following you on Twitter or liking you on Facebook. If you’re offering a copy of your book, it will potentially translate into another review, which is always a good thing – whether it is good or bad.

So there you have it, my “Reading” tips to promoting your book. I hope they will help eliminate some of the confusion when it comes to getting your book into the hands of readers. I am currently in the process of making a series of Vlogs that will expand on the topics above and give some insight to other aspects of marketing your book. You may find yourself wondering why I am willing to share tips when I offer my promotional services through Juniper Grove Book Solutions. The answer is simple. I believe that all authors should have a basic idea of what to do to help them if they want to take matters into their own hands. Everyone doesn’t have the resources to hire help to have the work done for them. Or maybe you just don’t want to trust your novel in the hands of someone other than yourself. Whatever the case may be, you shouldn’t feel like there are no options available for you because with enough work and dedication, you can get your book out there to be enjoyed by readers.

If you have any questions, I am always available and happy to help so please feel free to send a note my way.

Jaidis Shaw currently resides in a small town located in South Carolina with her husband and a beautiful daughter. With a passion for reading, Jaidis can always be found surrounded by books and dreaming of new stories. She enjoys challenging herself by writing in different genres and currently has several projects in the works.

When not reading or writing, Jaidis maintains her blog Juniper Grove and helps promote her fellow authors. In addition to her free promotion services, she uses her experience in publicity to offer freelance author services through Juniper Grove Book Solutions.

Jaidis released her debut novel Destiny Awaits in April 2011. In addition to her novel, she currently has two short stories published with Wicked East Press. You can read her latest story ‘Blind Justice’ in the Wicked Bag of Suspense Tales anthology – now available on Kindle!

CONNECT WITH JAIDIS

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Blog

Kindlegraph

You Tube

TO WIN A ONE-WEEK BOOK TOUR FROM JAIDIS (to be claimed any time from February to July 2013), please leave a comment below. If you would just like to leave a comment (always appreciated) and don’t want to enter to win, just put #notentering at the end of your post! GOOD LUCK TO ALL! A winner will be selected on January 1, 2013.