Thursday, December 5, 2013

What Color Are You Under Your Skin?

"Buy this book, buy this book, buythisbooook!"
I’ve been a writer for a long time.  A long, long time.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have quite a diverse career, writing in several mediums.  I’ve even been lucky enough to have been nominated for some prestigious awards.  During my time as a writer I’ve observed one thing that remains consistent.  Whether you’re Robert Beck writing about Iceberg Slim, Charles Dickens writing about Tiny Tim, or Shonda Rhimes writing about Olivia Pope—character is developed from the inside out.  While a character’s social situation has an impact on how the character sees the world, their skin color does not.

I kept this in mind when I decided to become a young adult paranormal author.  Like most African American readers, I am widely read.  I don’t just read black literature.  As a boy I grew up reading James Bond and Dr. Fu Manchu.  As a young man I read The Lord of The Rings.  The adventure in these books moved me, influenced me.  I knew whenever I wrote professionally I wanted to entertain readers the same way the novels of my youth entertained me.

When I conceived my first YA novel, NeverSlow Dance With A Zombie, I envisioned the main character, Margot Jean Johnson, as black.  This was in the mid-2000s when ebooks were a little more than a thought.  Major book stores were where most books were sold.  I realized as a black author, if I made Margot black, my book would be relegated to the black book section.  Nothing wrong with the black book section.  I’ve spent many afternoons browsing there, and purchased some damn good books there.  But I wanted my book to appeal to a larger audience; I wanted my book to be in the general population of the store.  So when I described Margot in the book, I never mentioned race or skin color.  In my mind Margot was black, but I wanted each person who read the book to see Margot through their own eyes, judge her through their own experiences.

It didn’t matter what color Margot’s skin was.  While she was laugh out loud funny, she was also a self-centered user who needed to be brought down a peg.  She was flawed, and that’s what interested me most. When my editor at Tor asked (trying to play the innocent), “what color is Margot?”  My response was: “What color do you think she is?”  My ploy worked.  The book was slated for the YA section and wound up being minor hit, selling 70,000 copies in pre-orders, and going on to become a Scholastic Book Club selection, which helped sell many more copies. It’s still sold at Scholastic Book Fairs.  It also wound up being nominated for both a Cybils and an American Library Association Award.  In my mind I did the right thing, allowing reader’s imaginations to decide how they saw Margot.

I got a great vindicating treat when young actress, Keke Palmer, read the book and said if they ever made a movie, she wanted to play Margot.  How thrilling was that?  A star like Keke saw herself as Margot.  I even stalked her (I’m not too proud) and persuaded her to make a video about the book for me.  That video is here:

Since Never Slow Dance With A Zombie, I’ve gone on to write four more books, two of them (Boyfriend From Hell & Earth Angel) have become ebook Best Sellers.  I now write white characters, black characters, Asian characters and in my latest series, Hollyweird, I write about a young biracial girl.  I made Kris biracial because I wanted to write the feelings of an ethnic outsider, a girl who doesn’t feel a sense of belonging to any race.  This allowed me to covertly make a statement about race.  Kris is an ethnic outsider until a boy comes along and sees Kris as Kris… He’s a dead boy, but that’s a story for another post.  My point here is Kris’s skin color doesn’t matter.  She’s an outsider, and how she deals with her world as an outsider is what shapes her and makes her interesting.  So, authors, I ask you, what color are your characters under their skin?  It’s the only place that matters.

By the way, I’m no longer concerned about being relegated to the black section of the book store.  My books are now all on the internet where there is no black section.  On the internet, my books are accepted as books. How refreshing.


This post originally appeared as a guest post In DiversePages.

Monday, November 25, 2013

What's So Good About Goodbye?

My publisher with an original BFFH Arc in 2011

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.

Well if leavin’ causes grievin'
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

Guest Post: Ashley Hill Author of The Harvesters

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:


When she finds her boyfriend shackled to a white metal table Ashley feared for the worse.

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

Use The "Landing Page" To Pitch Your Book Pt3

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

Use The "Landing Page" To Pitch Your Book Pt2

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.

notice the 'buy button' below each book
call to action

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  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

Review Contest Winner Lindsay Weber

Here's Lindsay sporting the very stylish "I survived a Boyfriend From Hell" tee she won along with other cool swag in the Review Contest.

 Congratulations again, Lindsay.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Use The "Landing Page" To Pitch Your Book Pt1

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:

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.


Friday, September 6, 2013

The Review Contest Winner

My Review Contest started mid July and ended this past Monday.  All summer long frans and fans submitted their reviews in hopes of winning The Awesome Swag Bag.  I'm a bit old fashioned, so instead of using Rafflecopter to choose the winner of The Review Contest, I decided to hold my drawing the old fashioned way.  I wrote the names of each entry (some of you had as many as 8) on little slips of paper and placed the slips in my very handy hat.  Then I enlisted the aid of my good friend G's son, umm... err... Spider Man, to draw the name of the winner.

Spidey was up for the challenge

He dug deeeep

and selected the perfect person to win the prize

"Here Daddy" 
Yes, Spider Man always consults his father when making life altering decisions.

And the winner is.....

Yay! Congratulations! 
Thank you all for playing.  I'm so glad I had so many entries.  Let's all give a round of applause to Lindsay Weber who beat out over 50 of you.  And while we're at it, let's thank Spider Man D for his excellent assistance. 
There are never any losers in E's world.  The final book in The Falling Angels Saga, Falling, will be out this winter, just in time for the holidays.  And trust me, it's a winner.  Until then, look out for another excerpt from the new book, the cover reveal, and if I find the time, maybe even a little something special for Halloween.  And for those of you who still aren't fans of The Falling Angels Saga, here's the first 4 chapters of book #1 Boyfriend From Hell--FREE--to whet your appetites: SAMPLE.  Enjoy your fall ya'll.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Guest Post: Annabelle Blume on Consistent Characters

Hey frans, I've got a special treat for you, and I do mean special.  My friend, author, Annabelle Blume's up-coming novel, Melted Tears (Due out on September 9th) is on blog tour (Sept 2-20th), and today's stop is here with us at E's Blog.  I met Annabelle when she became a fan of The Falling Angels Saga, and ultimately a fran, like a lot of you.  I had no idea she had aspirations to become an author until I happened to see a tweet about her first novel, Frozen Heart.  I got my hands on Frozen Heart when it first came out and I have to tell you, I love, LOVE, LOVED it!  An amazing dystopian romantic adventure with some sizzling sex scenes.  I was so happy for Annabelle and jealous (in a good way) that her very first book could be so damn good.  You can find her first novel, the prequel to Melted Tears, here: FROZEN HEART

Flash forward to this past spring when Annabelle asked me to write a blurb for the sequel.  You know I said Yes! I loved the first one so much, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the new one, and let me tell you I was not disappointed.  AND if you look at the front cover--Huzzah! A blurb by yours truly.  DO NOT make my first blurb ever go to waste.  Support this book!

But enough about my needs...

Today Annabelle is sharing a guest post about creating consistent characters.  It's a good lesson for some of us and a great reminder for others.  But before her post, here's a little bit about the woman herself.

                      About Annabelle Blume


Annabelle is a Science Fiction and Urban Fantasy Romance author, that is, when she's not checking homework or begrudgingly cooking dinner. Wife, mother, and creator of alternate worlds, Annabelle has a penchant for that which is outside the norm.

Her Sociology degree has given her the ability to construct worlds that exist only in her head and translate them passionately to the page. The time spent studying individuals, interpersonal relationships, and particularly, women, within the constraints of our society led to Annabelle's unabashed ability to talk about sex as it fits into our modern lives.

Annabelle's official author page
You can find her on Twitter: Twitter@AnnebelleBlume  and stay up-to-date via her Facebook Author Page



I believe creating consistent characters is one of the hardest things about writing. And fewer writers are successful at it than you think. I see it all the time, even in blockbuster movies and my favorite TV shows; a character saying something completely out of line with their typical thought processes or jumping ahead in their character arc without any solid footing to support their transformation. I’ll never forget when I saw a character on my favorite show, Supernatural, leave a woman possessed by the strongest demon they’d ever seen completely unattended. I mean come ON! These guys have been fighting monsters for their whole lives and they’re going to make a bonehead mistake like that? I think not.

So how do you avoid this in your own writing? First, you have to push yourself. Don’t ever allow yourself to write a character doing or saying something just because it’s convenient to the plot. If your character has to play dumb, or mean, or weak when they usually aren’t, then your plot isn’t supporting this element. Go back and try again.

Next, you must, and I mean MUST, have a critique partner who is honest with you. When I was writing Melted Tears, I had a tendency to allow Cressenda to dwell on her fear that Beckett might leave her in the West Fallen work camp. My critique partner, Amy, kicked my butt! It was totally out of character for Cressenda to be mopey and self defeating and with Amy’s help I got Cressie straightened out and back to her bad ass self.

Lastly, if you have a scene or introduction of a plot element that you’re unsure of, read it out loud. If you’re lucky, your computer may have a function that will read your writing back to you, but if not  lock yourself away (car, bathroom, closet, wherever) and read that puppy with all the passion and fervor you imagined when you wrote it. If it doesn’t flow you’ll know you’ve got to clean it up.

Yes, it’s hard work, likely inconvenient, and a pain in your neck – literally and figuratively – but your work will reach new levels of professionalism when you push yourself to do better and be better.
A terrific lesson for us all.  Now go forth and support this fabulous author. 

Here's your chance to win a FREE ecopy of Annabelle's sizzling second novel, Melted Tears.  Just click here: GIVEAWAY.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Demonosity Added To E's Review Contest Prize Pack

Hey Everyone,

I just added an ecopy of my pal, Amanda Ashby's, new YA Paranormal Demonosity to the review contest prize package, thus making the AWESOME prize package even AWESOMER!

There's only one week left to enter The Review Contest.  If you've read any of my books and have reviewed them on Amazon or Goodreads you qualify.  If you've read one of my books but haven't yet posted a review, you have 7 days to do it.  The more of my books you've read and reviewed, the more entries you can have. This is my way of rewarding my fans and frans so please, please participate.  Costs you nothing but an email... and those are free.

If you'd like to know more about the contest, or to get a look at the AWESOME prize package, click here: THE REVIEW CONTEST.  If you'd like to know more about Amanda Ashby's exciting new novel, click here: DEMONOSITY.

Seven days to go, folks.  Don't wait.  Enter now!  Peace.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Song For My Father

The 1965 Jazz classic, Song For My Father, was written by pianist Horace Silver as an homage to his father.  Silver’s father had a great affect on the man he became.  Like Horace Silver, I owe my father a great deal.  Actually, I owe him everything.  Aside from implanting me inside my mother, the man inadvertently started my writing career.  No, he didn’t inspire me to become a writer; instead, his inspiration came as a challenge to me when I was nine or ten years old.

My story begins with a library card

My local library in the Bronx, New York allowed kids to have their own library cards when they reached their 10th birthday.  For me, having my very own library card was a big deal—a very big deal.  It wasn’t at all about books for me at that point in time; it was about independence.  That library card catapulted me into the ranks of the Big Kids, for I no longer had to go to the library tailing behind my mother. 

My card came in the mail on a summer day.  As soon as I opened the envelope I began planning my first trip to the library without my mother.  I corralled my best friend who was six months younger than me.  “Wanna go to the library with me?” I asked, flashing my new card as if I’d just received my driver’s license.   
That day I took out the maximum six books.  When I walked home with all my books cradled in my arms, I felt my load of books screaming to my friends and neighbors “E. Van Lowe is no longer a baby.  Big Kid over here.”
I kept the books for the obligatory two weeks, took them back and got six more.  This went on for several months until one day my father (who was off work that day) stopped me as I was leaving the apartment.  “You didn’t read those books,” he said.

“Yes, I did.”
“No.  I’ve been watching you.  You may have thumbed through one or two, but you didn’t read any of them.”  And then he made the challenge.  “This time, why don’t you take out only two books and read them.”
You can imagine how upset I was.  I got a special feeling carrying those six books home every two weeks.  Those six books made me feel like a man. What kind of message would two books send to my friends and neighbors?  “Look at that.  E’s a weakling.  He can only carry two books.”  Pathetic.  Fortunately for me, I was a dutiful kid and did what my father suggested—I only took out two books. 
When I got home I did something else he suggested—I  read one of them.  I mean, I actually read it.  It was a kid’s book, no doubt about it, and I remember it had its share of pictures in it, but I found the story in the book mesmerizing.  I read it cover-to-cover.  A first. I enjoyed it so much, I read it again.  Who knew reading could be so much fun?

This is the actual book

The book was entitled Horse On A Houseboat.   I don’t remember the title of the second book I took out that day, don’t remember if I ever finished it.  What I still remember to this day, however, is that Horse On A Houseboat started my love affair with books.  It wasn’t much later I decided I not only wanted to read books, I wanted to write them as well.
This post is my song for my father.  “Hey, Dad, I couldn’t have had the wonderful life I have without your little challenge.”  Look at me.  Today I am an author with five published books as E. Van Lowe and two more as Sal Conte.  Sometime in November the final book in The Falling Angels Saga, Falling, will be available for sale.  It’s no Horse On A Houseboat, but who knows, maybe some young person will pick it up one day and it will begin their love affair with books.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

E's Review Contest

Hey frans, I'd been searching for a contest that would be easy for everyone to enter. I wanted something that was fun and yet took as little effort as possible. Let's face it, it's summer, and our time should be spent having summer fun.

That's when I came up with a really neat idea--a review contest. So... You're all invited to participate in E's Review Contest. Here's how it works. If you've ever posted a review of any of my books on Amazon, Amazon UK, B&N or Goodreads, all you need to do is send a link of the review to me at under the subject 'Review Contest' and you're entered. Please, only place one review link per email. Each email will count as an entry. The object is to have as many entries as possible to increase your chances of winning.

If you've read all 5 of my books, you can have up to 15 entries (you cannot post on both Amazon US and UK sites). The more entries, the greater chance you have of winning. If you've read my books but haven't posted a single review (shame on you), now's the time to post reviews and win some awesome swag for your efforts. The contest runs from The 4th of July until Labor Day, September 2nd 2013. And if you haven't read me yet, hang on. There's something for you, too. The Grand Prize is an awesome Swag Bag similar to the one I gave away at LitFest Pasadena. Here's what this one will contain:

An "I Survived A Boyfriend From Hell" women's fitted tee in a size of your choice because let's face it, who hasn't survived a boyfriend or girlfriend from hell.

A Never Slow Dance With A Zombie giant coffee mug for that last cup of coffee before World War Z comes crashing down on you.

Publisher White Whisker Book's most recent release, the well-reviewed romantic thriller, Blood Drama, for you end of summer read.

I'm also including a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card along with other surprise goodies I won't yet mention.  Like I said earlier, this is an AWESOME swag bag.  If we have more the 100 entries I'll give away a consolation prize of one item from the swag bag (gift card included) to the second place contestant.  We'll hold the drawing on or around the 3rd of September doing it the old fashioned way--with a member of the White Whisker team drawing entries from a hat.  I will photograph the ceremony and post it right here along with the name of the winner/winners.

So what are you waiting for?  If you've read and reviewed my books start sending links.  If you've read but haven't yet reviewed them, now's a good time to start.  And for those of you who haven't read me, here's a FREE sample of the first four chapters of my Best Selling novel, Boyfriend From Hell: FREE SAMPLE HERE.  If you enjoy it, buy the rest of the book and enter to win.  Have a great summer ya'll.  Peace.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Marketing vs Relationship Building

This morning I happened to read Chris Brogan's piece on  marketing versus what he called "owning relationships."  It got me thinking about my own marketing efforts for my novels, and I thought I'd share a few thoughts with you today.  First, if you'd like to read Chris Brogan's piece on the subject click here: Marketing VS Owning Relationships.

I live in a pretty upscale community, but that doesn't keep us from having our share of homeless men and women looking for handouts on the street.  Some mornings, I like to take a walk and grab a cup of coffee before I start my writing day.  The walking along with the caffeine gets my creative juices flowing, and by the time I get into my office I'm ready to go.  Urth Caffe, a terrific and very busy  breakfast place, is on my walking route, and most days, standing near the cafe, I see George.  I see several what I call "regulars" during my walks, but I only know one of them by name.  George.  George seems to know everyone who passes by.  When he sees me approaching his face lights up.  "Hi, E!  How's the tennis game."  George is chatty and has learned several tidbits about me. George never asks for money.  He never has his hand out.  His cup is on the ground nearby and invariably people put money in it.  I know I do.  That's because George seems genuinely interested in me.

Homeless people have less than a minute to market themselves to passersby.  Most of them do it with signs or pleas for help.  George does it by relationship building.  Recently George told me he found an apartment.  He's out in front of Urth Caffe fewer days, doing day labor other days.  I know most of us are rooting for the day George won't be out there at all.  That's because George didn't just market his wares to us, he built relationships.

Late last year I decided the future of my marketing efforts was not in getting 10,000 or more Twitter followers or 100,000 Facebook likes.  The future for me was in relationships.  That's when I decided to start The 25.   I felt that by building relationships with fans and staying in touch with them, I gave myself the best chance at selling more books.  You can learn more about The 25 by clicking on the link.  If you're a fan and you'd like to join my little club, follow the link to find out how.

If you're an author who is in this for the long haul, you need to think beyond KDP giveaways, tweets touting your latest work, and blog tours.  It's not that you shouldn't do these things, but the market is glutted with authors on Twitter and there are over 6,000 free ebooks being given away on any given day.  When you find a fan, you need to cultivate a relationship with them. 

I have a friend who was touting their high number of Twitter followers.  I told the friend they're not really followers if you can't motivate them to do something, they're just names on a list.  To be successful, we need true followers.  Here's the test.

My novel Heaven Sent was due to come out on December 12th 2012.  I wrote to the members of my, then fledgling, The 25 urging them not to buy the book on that day.  I had a KND ebook of the day promo coming a week later.  I asked them to all hold off and buy the day of the KND promo.  I told them why I needed their help.  Some of you reading this are my loyal followers so you know what happened.  Instantly, I received tweets and emails from my fans telling me they had my back.  On the morning of the promo several fans bought the book and then  tweeted "I just bought Heaven Sent by @Evanlowe  #twofive"  You have no idea how gratifying it was to see those tweets.  Later that evening Heaven Sent made its first appearance on an Amazon Best Seller list.  I saved the screen shot and sent it to all members of The 25 with a thank you.
Heaven Sent
The book wound up spending several days on Amazon's Best Seller lists, and has appeared again several times since.  The fans who bought Heaven Sent on the day I asked or during that week are my true followers.  I asked them to do this three days before Christmas and yet, because of my relationship building, my frans (friend + fan) took time out of their busy days to buy my book. 

The lesson here is simple: if you want to build a career in writing, you need to build it around true fans. They're not easy to come by, but they're worth the effort.  So take your marketing efforts to the next level and go beyond marketing with relationship building.