Thursday, December 5, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
When I was a kid my brother had a record (yes, there were records back then, 45s, in fact) by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles with the above title. *Singing* What's so good about goodbye, all it does is make you cry. Today that song has new meaning for me.
Last week I turned in the final draft of the final book in The Falling Angles Saga. And with it, I said goodbye to Megan, Guy, Maudrina and Aunt Jaz. I've never written a series before so I never knew the feeling of finishing one. From what I've read, some writers can't wait to get on with their lives, while others have a tear in their eye. For me it was a little of both. I'm happy to finish the series. More than a handful of fans have written me asking about the last book. For those who've hung around for the entire series, I want it to be a satisfying experience. I'm happy to give this final book to them. I'm also excited about what's next. I've been doing notes on a new book in the horror genre for several months now. I'm looking forward to this new and exciting challenge, and once again working with my horror writing alter ego Sal Conte (Read: A Few Words From Sal Conte)
But another part of me will miss this series. I really loved writing Megan and Guy. I call these my growing up novels because I could see my writing improving, getting sharper as the series went on. I started writing Boyfriend From Hell in 2008, just after I'd made my first young adult book sale with Never Slow Dance With A Zombie Tor/teen). I've been with these characters for more than five years. I've had a wonderful time with them. I will definitely miss them.
It took me so long to write the second half of the last book, partly, I believe, because it was hard letting go. During the writing of the book (Falling) I thought of all sorts of spinoffs and ways to keep the series alive. However, now that a week has passed, I'm ready to move on. I may revisit one or more of the characters later, but for now, it's goodbye.
Those of you who've been waiting for the final book, I'm sorry it's taken so long. It was originally due out this month. I won't have an official pub date until some time next month, But I believe February is a fair guess. I've poured my all into this book. I hope you think it does the series justice.
So that's this author's take on ending a series. Saying goodbye is difficult, but moving on is exciting. And you know what they say about one door closing. I'm ready.
And to part will break your heart
Tell me what’s so good about it
I could've done without it
What's so good about goodbye
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Frans, I've found another fresh, young voice to share with you. Ashley Hill is the nineteen year-old author of The Harvesters, an NA horror/thriller. As you know, guest posts on E's Blog are rare, but Ashley is a friend and I really wanted to help get her career moving in the right direction. Here's a little about Ashley's debut, The Harvesters:
On a small trip of dropping off a package for Jason’s father, the young couple never thought they would be running for their lives. Running away from supposedly friends whom in turned to be a family of harvesters.
Human harvesters and they are looking for something specific. And Ashley just might be the perfect match for that something.
Sound like fun? And now, here's Ashley:
Homeschooling for High School was the best thing
My Mom gave me the chance to do homeschooling for High School and I took her up on it. It was the best thing for me. I finished school a year earlier than all my classmates, got a 3.4 GPA, and I found my passion in life. This then led me to pick the school I wanted to go to. Which led me to the love of my life (I met him a semester later). Now, if I went to my town's public school I know for a fact none of those things up there would have happened. I would be just as lost as my friend is now. I would have also gone to the school up north just like everyone in my town does instead of going to the school in the south, where I met the most wonderful people a girl can ask for. I'm more confident than before, I go out without makeup even though I see flaws, all because of these amazing people that have come into my life. They are a blessing for this girl who wants to get out of her shell. It's crazy to think just one little decision can change so much in your life, for better or worse. This was for better and I've never been happier in my life than I am now. I'm self-published because of this one independent decision I made years ago.
I enjoyed Ashley's post because it's so real. It's not just about selling her book. I feel I got to know a piece of Ashley through her post. Thanks for stopping by and sharing a little bit of yourself with us, Ashley. The Harvesters is available now. It's a quick read as it's not a full length novel. I read it about a year ago when it first came out. Click on the title to find this thrilling ebook at Amazon. Don't be shy now. Let's continue to support our fellow indie authors, especially one with as honest a voice as Ashley.
You can follow Ashley on her blog Paranormal Sisters or on Twitter
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
In Part One of this series I explained what a landing page was and how it could be an important tool in your marketing arsenal. In Part Two I showed you how to create your own landing pages in under an hour, and I gave you a few tips to increase its efficacy. Now that you all have landing pages complete with awesome book covers and sparkling, effective copy, I'm going to give you some pointers on how to turn your pitch into book sales--which is why we're all here.
I've written a number of posts about giving books away for free, the first of which you can find here: FREE Your Ticket to Big Sales. I'm not going to rehash what's in the post. You can click on the link and read it for yourself. Instead, I'm going to point you to one of America's top retailers as proof of how effective free can be.
Walk into any Costco any time of any day and you'll see customers roaming the aisles grazing on freebies. I'm sure you've grazed on a few Costco freebies as well. Ask yourself this: if freebies didn't sell product, would Costco continue to give them away? Of course not. Freebies are a successful marketing tool for Costco, used to get customers to try new stuff. So, if one of American's top retailers is using this method, you should be, too.
Some of us aren't like author Michael R. Hicks with three books we can give away for free. If you go to my landing page you'll see I don't give a book away at all. Instead, I give away 4 chapters of my novel Boyfriend From Hell, the first in my The Falling Angels Saga. If readers download my chapters and like them, some will purchase the entire book. Many of those who like the book will go on to read the series. You see how this works?
By the way, the free download on my landing page is longer than the one available on my Amazon page. One caution: if you're planning to join Amazon's KDP Select program, they have limits on how much of your book you can give away for free to qualify. Please checkout their guidelines before giving away a large chunk of your book. If you don't want to give a way a piece of your book on your landing page, give away a short story, or a novella--any writing sample that will show off your skills and make readers want to purchase your book. Giving away something for free is the most effective way you can monetize your landing page.
Now that your landing page is ready to monetize, where do you find customers?
Anyone who has read me in the past knows I feel Twitter is your most effective marketing tool and it's FREE. To use Twitter effectively requires some work. If you don't have a tweet deck (like Hootsuite--also free) get one, because you'll want to schedule tweets touting your landing page so that they're sprinkled throughout the day. Statistics have shown me that my tweet: No Clockwork, One Angel and a Demon from hell. Here's why The Falling Angels Saga is your next INCREDIBLE READ gets a number of clicks each time I use it.
Alter your message so you're not saying the same thing all the time. Start by looking at other tweeters tweets. When you find something you feel is catchy and has a pitch similar to what you're going for, adapt it to suit your pitch. This isn't cheating. All marketers copy success. You should, too. Come up with several messages to tweet throughout the day. Also, take some time to prospect for new Twitter followers, new readers to pitch your book to. There are lots of books and blog posts on how to find new Twitter followers. Google the words Twitter Followers. Ignore the ads on buying followers. They don't work. Start by reading the posts on attracting new followers. And once you've identified new followers, you'll need to look at their profiles to qualify them as possible candidates for your book. Lot of work? You bet, but it can be very rewarding.
You can also try Blogads and Google Adwords to find prospects for your landing pages. Personally, I haven't had much success with either, but I'm still experimenting with them. But Blogads and Adwords costs money, and I believe if you do a little marketing work you can vastly increase your book sales for FREE. The key here is it can never be on autopilot. Some work is required. But if you do the work, you'll reap the rewards. That's how it is in life, isn't it?
One final thing, I chose "Incredible Reads" because it's more eye catching than just putting my book title up there:Want to find your next incredible read, go to INCREDIBLE READS. That was the idea.
Okay, that's it. Now go forth and create a landing page, have fun doing it, make some money, and please write me any time. And if you decide to purchase one of my books, that would be AWESOME.
Author, Michael R. Hicks (whom I've mentioned several times here) has a wonderful book The Path to Self-Publishing Success that's definitely worth a read. Anyone who wants to make money off their writing efforts should check it out as well.
Friday, October 4, 2013
In Part 1 of this series I explained that the landing page is an effective tool authors can use to pitch their books. It allows you more time and space to make a solid pitch than say, Twitter. One of the important keys to a landing page is what is known as a 'call to action.' While Twitter may no longer be a good forum to scream 'buy my book,' the landing page is. The purpose of the landing page is to call readers to action, either to purchase your book, or if you have a series you might consider using the page to offer the first book for free.
Author Michael R. Hicks has some very effective landing pages offering free downloads. In fact, he is one of the first successful authors I noticed who employed a landing page.
The screenshot above doesn't do him justice, but in it he's offering readers the chance to try three of his novels for free. In his own words: There aren’t any catches or gotchas, you don’t have to fork over your email address or anything else. Just click on the link for the format you want and grab ‘em.
Michael's is a straight forward, no nonsense pitch. That's one of the things I like about using a landing page. It allows you the time to make an honest pitch on why a reader should try your book. Has your book won any awards? Brag about them on your landing page. If you have 1500 reviews or just 15 reviews, use what you've got to persuade readers why they should click on your offer. There's a lot more you can learn from author, Hicks by clicking around his website GO HERE. And while you're there, please take the time to download one of his amazing books.
Ready to build a landing page? Let's get started. One of the things I'm going to tell you right now is that your books must have an eye-catching book cover. A large part of the pitch is visual, and you'll need a great cover to make that work. For my landing page I chose a Blogspot or Blogger blog template. A Wordpress template is better for a number of reasons, but for those of us who aren't savvy in doing things on the internet (me, me, me), blogger is easier to navigate, and I built the rudimentary form of my page in less than an hour. And if I can do it.. you know how it goes.
Before you begin there's one more caveat. If you're not good at writing ad copy, surf around looking at ads and book pitches that you think deliver the kind of message you'd like, and COPY that pitch. Copy it, and then tailor it to your message. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Take the time to imitate successful authors like Michael R. Hicks. Your pitch is just as important as your visuals and your call to action. You need all three working together to have a successful landing page.
I had my book cover designer design a header that I wound up using for my landing page. The header makes my page look professional and not the DIY page that it is. If you're paying a graphic artist to design your covers, negotiate a header into the price so it doesn't cost you any more. My designer threw it in for free. My designer is Adara Rosalie. Here's a screenshot of my header. Notice that you can tell before you begin to read that I've written a series and not just one book. My pitch has begun visually.
Now that you've got a kick-ass book cover and have tinkered around with your copy, go to blogger, choose the perfect site name and begin. And if you're handy with Wordpress, by all means do it there. I chose Incrediblereads for my site name. I also bought the incrediblereads.com domain. I'll tell you why I made this choice in the next post.
Once you've gone through the blogger basics, it's time to choose a template. click on 'template' in the left hand sidebar. I chose an 'awesome' template. For color I chose black, but I must tell you, I've been told you should always choose a white background, but right now black works for me (my blog is white on black). I think it makes my colors pop better than white. After you've chosen your template, you can begin writing your copy into the landing page, just as if you were writing a blog post. At this time you should also begin to add all the goodies on the sidebars like I have on mine. You do this by clicking on 'layout' in the left hand sidebar menu just above template.
Getting my page to where it is today took a lot of trial and error working in the layout--much more than an hour. I'm no expert, so I can't even tell you how I did it. But blogger has incredible tutorials to walk you through getting your book covers where you want them and even how to have your series covers fade-in like they do on my landing page. One more thing, I disabled comments, followers and all things blog related that I knew I wouldn't use. You should do the same. Your page needs to look like a landing page and not a blog. The page you create is going to be the only post.
Play around with it, and don't hesitate to come back to this post and ask me any question you might have (even if it's a year later) about landing pages. I check my comments on all my posts regularly. Even if I can't answer it, I'll comment back. And finally, don't get frustrated. If something isn't working, put it aside and come back to it with fresh eyes. Just like you do with your writing.
In part three of the series I'm going to share with you why I think you should always offer something for free ,along with where to prospect for new readers to send to your kickass landing pages. Until then...
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Friday, September 27, 2013
Not too long ago I was among the legions of authors using Twitter to pitch my books. Review quotes from readers with a call to 'buy my book' were my method. But late last year I started getting away from this type of pitch. I changed because my tweets stopped being effective. On Super Bowl Sunday 2012 my tweets: Not watching the Super Bowl today? Have I got a HELL of a read for you garnered me enough sales to propel Boyfriend From Hell onto several Amazon top 100 lists for a few hours. Yet by September of that same year my blatant pitch tweets had become less and less effective. The main reason was, when I started tweeting 'buy my book' back in 2011 there were possibly thousands of authors doing this. By the end of last year there were 10s of thousands or more. My once very effective tweets had become Twitter clutter or worse--SPAM.
This is the first of three posts about changing up your strategy by using a landing page to attract new readers to your books. I'm going to begin by dealing with the question: what is a landing page?
Wikipedia states: Landing pages are often linked to from social media, email campaigns or search engine marketing campaigns in order to enhance the effectiveness of the advertisements.
A piece on CopyBlogger states: A landing page is any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action or result.
A good way for us to answer this question is to first establish what a landing page is not. A landing page can't be any page on your website. They're all pages on which one might "land," but for our purposes, a landing page is a page where you can send traffic so that you can make a broader, more impassioned pitch about your book or books.
I began reading about landing pages last January, and started experimenting with one of my own. I'm still experimenting, updating my page to make it more effective while trying to discover new ways to get readers to the page. The post I referenced earlier in Copyblogger states: Think of a golf course… a landing page is the putting green that you drive the ball (prospect) to. That's very well stated.
A landing page is a good idea for any author, but it's an even more effective tool if you're writing a book series or have a number of books available. Here's a screenshot of Ted Dekker's landing page, touting his up-coming novel while still making you aware of the rest of the series:
Here's a link to my own landing page. Remember, it's still a work in progress: http://incrediblereads.blogspot.com/
So, a landing page is a page where you send prospective readers in order to make a strong pitch for them to download your book. In a growing marketplace, your landing page can distinguish you from other authors. Think of it as a chance to tell a reader more about you and your book to help influence their buying decision.
In part 2 of this series I'm going to tell you how you can build your own landing page in less than an hour, and what should be included on that page. In part 3 we'll discuss how to use Twitter and other marketing tools to find prospects to send to your page. And while you're on my page, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it. Please leave a comment letting me know what you think of this piece and my landing page. Thanks.