The Brutal Truth: Keeping it Real

    I have a degree in marketing. If you’ve followed my blog long enough you know that I am overly enthusiastic about sales, marketing and design–oh, and writing! When it comes to writing I am a panster, but when … Continue reading

Boston or Bust?

That would be a big giant:

BUST

I took a few weeks to let the issues that occurred be addressed by the BBF staff before deciding to sit down and write this. Then once they’d “resolved” the issues I took a few more weeks to stew over that. I’m going to be honest and open here, as I always try to be. I’m going to try to be factual as well…Here goes…

So what happened? I was extremely excited when I learned the 5th Annual Boston Book Festival was offering this:

New in 2013! Individual authors and independent literary presses can take out a table along “Indie Alley.” This newly created, author-exclusive exhibitor area is situated in front of the John Hancock Tower at the intersection of St. James Avenue and Clarendon Street. The Boston Magazine even spoke about it…

The independent author and self-published book industries are booming at the moment, and organizers of the annual Boston Book Festival recognize that

So to cater to the demand, for the first time ever, they are offering up space to those who have worked tirelessly to get their name out without the help of a major publishing company to back them up.

“That market is exploding right now. I think one of our goals [at the festival] is to always spark the interest and creativity of aspiring authors, and to have attendees be able to see people who are out there [self-publishing], and getting voices out there, which can be inspirational for them,” said Norah Piehl, deputy director of the Boston Book Festival. “It provides a voice for people at the festival that may not otherwise be heard.”

(Read the Entire Article by clicking on Boston Magazine above).

The key thing here that happened was–we weren’t heard. I really should have known better, as I am from Mass. In fact I was only a twenty minutes from Boston growing up. The thing is, I’m not really all that familiar with Boston. I didn’t realize the place they were putting us was NO WHERE near the event on Copley Square. We were abandoned in a corner; one that no one would even pass through to get to the main event. What do I mean by abandoned? There was absolutely NO signage indicating where we were, and the map…our tiny, miniscule dot was laughable. Many authors had fans and/or family members that came specifically for Indie Alley–and they couldn’t even find it! The event was to last from 10PM to 5PM, and promised to send some of the 25,000 people that attend annually our way. Great in theory! There sure was a huge mass of people on Copley Square–there was live music, booths with books and major published authors, oh and TONS of people…a BLOCK away from us. The attention and traffic to those areas was obvious, and then the other obvious thing was the MASSIVE amount of space that we could have been in. No, I’m not talking about the lawn of Copley Square–it was obvious that was not to be trodden on, and I’ve got no issue with that. I’m talking about the space around the lawn to the right that was empty! The space that to the front and left was filled with those major published authors. In the end I sold some books, one to a fan of another author who I just happened to be talking to when the fan came, and another two to two other authors at the fair. The bill for this day…well, between what I paid for the table, to drive on the Mass Pike, the time spent driving (3 hours total), the time I spent freezing my butt off  and the cost of marketing materials and paperbacks. Well, I’m in a big fat red zone. The BBF pointed out that was a risk we took, because they couldn’t guarantee attendance. The fact is, the BBF gave us plastic tables, with .50 cent plastic table clothes and a sticker with our name on it and an area where no traffic would go through. By 2:00 half of the authors had left in a huff, and by 2:30 I’d left, too. I was sullen, but at the same point, it was a risk. I understand that–I only wished we hadn’t been thrown off in a corner–or that there was SOME sort of signage indicating the hole in the wall that we were in compared to the main event. I didn’t want a refund. I’d just wanted my voice to be heard–a struggle that is evident in being an Indie author; one that the event organizers claimed they understood. They’re attention to the main event (which we should have been included in and it was always alluded to that we would be) and claimed ignorance of us indicated they didn’t understand. So, I decided to write a letter:

I’m not sure if you would be the person to speak about this, but the event really didn’t go the way that I thought it would. I was very disappointed with the set up, as there was no signage indicating where we were, and we were a block away from the actual Festival. Honestly, it really was like being in an alley, but it wasn’t even in direct walking distance of the festival. It truly felt as though we were an after thought. I was excited for the chance to be a part of a major book festival, and was disappointed that we were put off in a corner where no one would, or did, find us. It was even more frustrating to see the plethora of people gathering at the actual festival, and the mass of empty space in which we could have been–actually a part of the festival. I’ve had more exposure at local high school craft fairs, of which I paid much much less to be at. I do thank the organization for attempting to invite independent authors to the event, but in the end it felt like we were being scorned. I appreciate you taking this into consideration for your future events. I’d love to be a part of the Festival next year, but only if cost and the location are considered and changed.

Looking at it now, it does seem a bit harsh, but it was truthful. I did feel scorned and put in a corner. In fact this kept playing in my mind:

I certainly don’t want to sound like a cry baby in this situation. I took the risk. I paid the money, and I realized it really didn’t work. C’est la vie. I was surprised by the BBF’s answer:

Dear Indie Alley Exhibitors,

Many of you have reached out to us after the last week following your time at the Boston Book Festival.  We are disheartened that so many authors had a bad experience at this year’s BBF. Our intention with setting up Indie Alley was to offer independent authors a chance to exhibit at our event and we are sorry that Indie Alley did not draw the audience we had hoped it would. 

To address some of the issues you have raised, you should know first of all that the space that we used for Indie Alley is the only one the city of Boston would allow us to use.  Our request to close Trinity Place to traffic was denied and the grass at Copley Square is off-limits.  In terms of foot traffic, we had planned to have an entire day of poetry readings in the Blue Glass Café in the John Hancock building, which would have brought several hundreds of festival-goers through your exhibitor area.  We were notified less than a month before the BBF that the building’s power would be off for HVAC repairs and that we would have to relocate the poetry.  This was unforeseen.

Indie Alley was an experiment, and apparently one that failed.  We regret that failure and in future years will return to our policy of not offering individual authors exhibitor space.  This is a shame, but we have no other choice given the poor attendance this year.

While we are as disappointed as you are that Indie Alley was not a success, we did invest both time and money in setting it up.  This was a risk that you as exhibitors and we as the event planners took jointly and while your contract states that there are no refunds, in light of the poor attendance we would like to offer to refund each of you half of your fee.  To request a refund, please download the attached document, sign and either fax or mail it back to us, attention <name removed for privacy>.

Please know that we have learned from this year’s experience how better to serve our community in the future, and we hope you are able to attend and enjoy the BBF in future years.

We got a list of excuses, but no explanation for why they didn’t decide to move us to the large area NOT on the lawn, or to the huge sidewalk area that was still in viewing of the main event. No explanation for why there was NO SIGNAGE indicating where we were. No explanation for why we WERE A TINY dot on a map. We got a refund, and an invitation to attend in future years BUT NOT AS EXHIBITORS. This was the part that upset me the most. In future years <we> will return to our policy of not offering individual authors exhibitor space.

WHAT? Really? That was the part that had me sitting rereading the letter over and over again in disbelief. Shunned. Scorned. Abandon. Definitely not understood. This year didn’t work, we can all admit that–but why can’t we work to make this better? I’m sure that many of the authors, including myself, would be willing to meet via conference call with event organizers to talk about how future years could be better organized. I’m a project manager–I do marketing plans–there’s a failure component in both. You fail, you look at why and you revise your plan! You do not abandon it!

So, yet again, New England is left without a Festival or Conference to celebrate Indie authors and what they contribute to the literary world. BBF could have filled that hole, and after one poor attempt they gave up. I don’t plan on giving up, but at this point there isn’t much I can do in the way of Festivals. So, plan on coming out to the bookstores that I do my release signings at, and the high schools I do craft fairs at…I’ll be there with a great novel and a smile!

10 Books all for $.99 Each!

fall in love sale

Each one of the great novels showcased in the sale is from an independent author and features romance from a tidbit to a whole dollop. So go ahead, fall in love with reading this fall by picking up any of these titles from October 1-7th.

Love Exactly by Cassandra Giovanni

Love ExactlyEmma Walker was a writer who’d lost herself to someone else’s anger–who had given up on ever feeling like herself again.
Evan Levesque was a rock-god–the one all the woman wanted, but he’d never gotten used to the loneliness between the stage and real life.
With just one cup of coffee they’ll begin a journey of self-discovery at each others sides, but can Emma handle Evan’s fame while dealing with her own demons? Emma’s checkered personal past, a bad relationship that haunts the edges of her memories, threatens to make everything implode on them when Evan takes matters into his own hands.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words…they’ll destroy my soul–Can Emma handle being put back together and facing who she’s become because of it?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo

Casted by Sonya Loveday

CastedJade had spent the majority of her life running from the Triad. The Triad, are a powerful group, who would stop at nothing to obtain Jade and the missing spell book for leader, Lorenzo’s, nefarious plans. And now that she has absorbed the highly coveted magic contained inside the missing book, there is nowhere left for her to hide.
With the help of her friends, Jade steps out from the shadows and learns how to fight back. But no one is prepared for Elinor-the woman bound inside of the book that’s trapped in Jade’s mind. Now she not only needs to protect herself from the Triad, but from what’s hiding inside her mind as well.
Jade never expected the answer to it all would revolve around love.
Edge is dark, mysterious, and a sworn member of the Triad. He also hides a secret past that threatens the thin line he walks between good and evil. Lives are at stake when Jade and Edge’s two worlds collide. Can Jade learn to trust him when he says he is her pre-ordained and vows to do everything he can to protect her? But more importantly, can she trust herself and the woman in her mind?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

 Waterfalls Down by Danielle Rohr

Water Falls DownWhat have they done to me here, to cause me to be unable to see beyond my cage?

Three teenagers committed and locked away in a mental institution act on impulse, and manage to escape. Without a plan, money, ore even identification Lynn, Chelsea, and Garret must find their way in a very big, and very predatory world. After a great deal of travel and agony, they find paradise in the form of Yosemite National Park. Battling the elements of nature, as well as mental illness leaves these three broken, and defeated. Will they find the solution that can save them, or will they fight against the current until they grow weak, and become just another statistic?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

Mere Enchantment by Alicia Rivoli

Mere EnchantmentA World Like No Other…

When a newly formed group of friends finds themselves fighting for survival, little did they know that was just the beginning.

When Chloe, Megan, Jason and Zach are forced to take cover in a nearby cave from a violent storm they find their new friend Preston there as well. Zach guides the group through the cave but as they go deeper strange things begin to happen and they find themselves separated in a magical kingdom surrounded by unusual people and wizards. Things get even more dangerous as they travel the kingdom in search of the city of Mere and each other.

As their journey unfolds, Preston discovers that the bedtime stories he was told as a child are true and that his rightful place in time must be realized. The kingdom itself has gone under attack as Jacan, a traitor to the crown, forces his armies through the magical borders.

Looking back Preston should have recognized that it was all real. He should have seen the signs. But how could he have known? After all, Jacan was just a villain in a story that took place in a far off mystical land. How could he have imagined that the stories that his father told him as a child were true?

How could any of them have known that their destinies were already written, and that to discover who they really are would take courage that they never realized they had?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Smashwords

American Girl on Saturn By Nikki Godwin

American Girl on SaturnThe summer after graduation is supposed to be that first real taste of freedom – but not for eighteen-year-old Chloe Branson. Just as that breeze of freedom is making its way into her galaxy, her secret-service-agent dad drops a meteor-sized bomb of bad news on her and her sisters. An attempt has been made on the lives of Canadian boyband, Spaceships Around Saturn, during their USA tour, and the guys have to go into hiding ASAP. The only problem? In the midst of the crisis and media frenzy, their dad volunteered to hide the guys…in their house.

Six-year-old Emery is as ecstatic as any self-proclaimed Saturnite would be, but Chloe and her seventeen-year-old sister Aralie watch their summer plans crash and burn like a falling star. The SAS guys aren’t happy with the situation, either. Bad boy Jules picks fights with Aralie about everything from his Twitter followers to his laundry, and heart-throb Benji can’t escape Emery’s fangirlisms for more than three minutes.

But after the super-cute Milo kisses Chloe during a game of hide-and-seek, she finally understands what Emery means when she talks about SAS being “out of this world.” If this is what Saturn feels like, Chloe doesn’t want to come back to Earth.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Smashwords

First I Love You by Genevieve Dewey

First I Love YouOne part Godfather, two parts Emma and a dash of Casablanca mixed together, “First, I Love You” isn’t a detective novel, a gangster novel, a mystery, a romance or a family saga. It’s a little of all of the above.

Imagine being a detective with a mobster for a father, or a mobster with a straight arrow, good cop for a son. This is a relationship that is tricky on its best day. Add in some well-meaning meddling from a mob princess sister, an arrogant DEA agent, and gangsters running a human trafficking ring and you have a recipe for a book that refuses to follow the rules. Told from the perspective and point of view of each the six main characters this is the first novel in a trilogy about love, loyalty, revenge and redemption.

Omaha Detective Tommy Gates has kept his gangster father at arm’s length his whole life. Mickey Downey has spent the better part of the last two decades trying to find ways to get back the son he lost through Witness Protection. Now Tommy has taken an opportunity to work on a Federal Human Trafficking Joint Task Force in Chicago where his father lives. Tommy’s sister Kiki and his mother Mary see this as an opportunity to build a relationship between the two. Tommy’s new DEA partner James Hoffman sees it as an opportunity to gain leverage over Mickey Downey. Tommy’s other partner, FBI Agent Ginny Sommers wants to keep Tommy’s family as far from the case as possible. When Kiki and James join forces, sparks fly and it sets fire to a maelstrom of unexpected consequences for everyone involved.

Amazon

A Construct of Angels by Andrew Toynbee

A Construct of AngelsAfter accidentally triggering the spontaneous resurrection of a dead student, an ordinarily routine day for York-based paramedic Sara Finn erupts into a series of events that propel her on a terrifying journey, promising to forever change her pragmatic opinions of life and death.

Still haunted by her domineering and abusive stepfather and driven by a life-long search for her missing younger brother, Sara finds herself caught in the crossfire between warring forces, powerful beyond human comprehension, that threaten to plunge civilisation into hellish chaos and eternal darkness.

This, the first in the ‘Angels of York’ series, follows Sara’s increasingly dangerous adventures during the six days that lead up to the September Equinox, a time of increasing darkness. As the population of York is plunged into panic, overwhelming the emergency services, Sara finds her loyalties torn between her newfound companion, now incarcerated within York’s largest mental institution, and her sworn medical duties.

Should she lend any credence to his insistence that his purpose on Earth is to prevent an imminent catastrophe? Or that it is being orchestrated from within the city itself?

As her nights are filled with terrifying dreams and she is once again confronted by the memories of her abusive childhood, Sara is forced to accept that only one avenue remains open to her – to put her own life to one side in order to help prevent the rapidly approaching doomsday.

Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Deer in the Headlights by Staci Hart

Deer in the Headlights

Sweary, Sexy 18+ Romance

How do the Greek gods kill time? Because they’re always bored. It’s an unavoidable downside of being alive for thousands of years. So, they play games. Games with human players. Remember Shakespeare? Yeah, that was Apollo. Bonnie and Clyde? Aphrodite vs Ares.

It’s Aphrodite’s turn once again in the rounds of competitions, and she’ll defend her domain: Love. She hasn’t lost a competition on her turf in over three millennia, and she’s not about to start now. Apollo is her first competitor, and he’s on a mission to win. If he wins, he’ll get a token; a favor that Aphrodite must fulfill. And with that favor, he’ll finally get the one woman he’s never been able to have.

Aphrodite and Apollo will choose their human players, and if Aphrodite can’t get them together before the clock runs out, Apollo will get his way. And she couldn’t have that.

Lex and Dean are perfect for each other. They just don’t know it yet.

Dean is a perpetual bachelor, and a man-whore. A brooding, gorgeous, rock star man-whore. Lex always has a boyfriend, but she’s never let anyone in enough to let herself go. Not really. Not ever. Aphrodite has her work cut out for her, but if she can’t make it work, no one can.

But she has more at stake than just Lex and Dean. Apollo killed her mortal love, and that beef has been dragging on for thousands of years. Ares, the douchebag, is forever trying to start a fight, and get Aphrodite into bed. And Persephone, her best friend, is the one person she can confide in, laugh with, and always count on for a healthy helping of bacon when she’s having a bad day.

Follow the gods as they fight, laugh, cry, lose love, and gain power. Making a mess with humans has never been so fun.

 Snake in the Grass by Staci Hart

Snake in the GrassIt’s Round Two of high stakes Love Connection on Olympus, and this time, everything has changed. For Aphrodite, at least.

Ares is on deck, and Aphrodite is nervous. As much as she loves to hook up with him, she doesn’t trust him as far as she could throw him, which isn’t very far. He’s a big dude. They haven’t been together in a very long time, but she can’t resist him. She never could. Even when every part of her screamed that he was a liar.

Ares has a plan to keep Aphrodite, for good this time. He wants to win the game, but he’ll hold back to get what he wants. He’s sitting on a chance that he’s been waiting thousands of years for, and he’ll do what he has to do to convince her to stay forever.

The only thing that could stop him is the secret that he’s been keeping from her for eons. If she finds out, it will destroy everything.

Kat and Dillon have been through a lot, and everything has been to protect their younger siblings. They have sacrificed everything to make sure their brother and sister are safe. The players are tough and loyal. Fierce and determined. But they become each other’s weakness, even though they fight it, and even though it means danger for Kat and her sister.

If Aphrodite can get the players over their egos and issues long enough to see that they’re meant for each other, the competition will be a piece of cake. One that she’ll eat a la mode, right in front of Ares, if she beats him.

Amazon ~ Smashwords

 What the Heart Wants by Staci Hart

What the Heart WantsIt’s 1984, and Tanaka Katsu is paving his way in the Yakuza. His marriage to Yuki was a business deal, and one that he has paid for with his happiness.

Aphrodite can’t stand that he’s so miserable, and Hera, the goddess of marriage and monogamy, has a strong hold on Yuki, who will do whatever it takes to get what she believes is hers. Aphrodite won’t sit by and watch Katsu’s life slip away with no chance at love, so when he takes a trip to Vegas, she’ll introduce him to his match.

Kim never thought she’d be in the situation like the one that’s coming her way, but what the heart wants is a powerful thing, and one that’s impossible to walk away from.

Amazon ~ Smashwords

Sales Saturday: Go Team!

As an Indie author marketing can be hard, and no matter what you do it can feel like you are working against an impenetrable wall of thousands of other Indie books, some of which, where put out there by people who just decided to hit the magical “publish” button. It’s frustrating to see a book you’ve read and know is riddled with errors surpass yours. Even more frustrating to watch some of the things that hit the shelves by major publishers. I know that sounds arrogant, but there’s a little green eyed monster inside of us all, isn’t there? The thing to NOT do is sit there and just think about those “ideas” you have in your head. The thing TO do is to keep pushing forward and think of more things to do to put your novel out there. Keep emailing bloggers, Facebookers, and tweeters, most of all keep writing and formulating bigger and better marketing plans. A marketing plan is the key to a proper roll-out of a novel, and while it will never guarantee you become the next Jessica Sorenson, Colleen Hoover or Jennifer Armentrout, it puts you ahead of the game because it allows you to measure what you’ve done and what you can do better. For more about marketing plans click any of these articles:

Marketing Plan: Part 1

Marketing Plan: Part 2

Marketing Plan: Part 3

Marketing plans can evolve, and very often times do, due to the element of “measuring failures and successes”. As I looked at falling numbers of sales for Love Exactly I realized that I needed to find a unique way to increase numbers on a novel when it was reaching the end of it’s cycle. (We’ll talk about the book life cycle another time). I currently run an independent author support group on Goodreads called the FBI (Fabulous, Bold, Indies), and after interacting with many other authors that are also struggling in the Indie world I took a step back and looked at the group and it’s reasoning.

I began the support group because of the slush of author groups that I’d seen that were only a means of promoting one’s novel. This is great–we need that, but we also need other support–somewhere we can talk about the difficulties of marketing, writing, editing and the publishing world.

Then I thought–why not utilize both of these things to test the theory of “The Power of the Team”. I’ve been a supervisor for some six plus years (which doesn’t sound impressive, I know, but I’m also only 24), and I know the power of working as a team–and the effects of a floundering team. As authors we are independent vehicles; every single one of us is working against the other–pushing, shoving and sometimes kicking, one another aside to get a piece of the “sales” pie. I stepped back and looked at my sales career. At my day job I’ve had to be a strong team player, but I was also a strong independent seller. I’ve learned through my career that both of those things CAN indeed go together. So, why can’t they go together in the publishing world? I think they can, and to prove that I’ve teamed up with a handful of other great (struggling) authors to put on a “Fall in Love with Reading $.99 Sale”. Each one of the great novels showcased is from an independent author and features romance from a tidbit to a whole dollop, so go ahead, fall in love with reading this fall by picking up any of these titles from October 1-7th.

fall in love saleLove Exactly by Cassandra Giovanni

Love ExactlyEmma Walker was a writer who’d lost herself to someone else’s anger–who had given up on ever feeling like herself again.
Evan Levesque was a rock-god–the one all the woman wanted, but he’d never gotten used to the loneliness between the stage and real life.
With just one cup of coffee they’ll begin a journey of self-discovery at each others sides, but can Emma handle Evan’s fame while dealing with her own demons? Emma’s checkered personal past, a bad relationship that haunts the edges of her memories, threatens to make everything implode on them when Evan takes matters into his own hands.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words…they’ll destroy my soul–Can Emma handle being put back together and facing who she’s become because of it?

 

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo

Casted by Sonya Loveday

CastedJade had spent the majority of her life running from the Triad. The Triad, are a powerful group, who would stop at nothing to obtain Jade and the missing spell book for leader, Lorenzo’s, nefarious plans. And now that she has absorbed the highly coveted magic contained inside the missing book, there is nowhere left for her to hide.
With the help of her friends, Jade steps out from the shadows and learns how to fight back. But no one is prepared for Elinor-the woman bound inside of the book that’s trapped in Jade’s mind. Now she not only needs to protect herself from the Triad, but from what’s hiding inside her mind as well.
Jade never expected the answer to it all would revolve around love.
Edge is dark, mysterious, and a sworn member of the Triad. He also hides a secret past that threatens the thin line he walks between good and evil. Lives are at stake when Jade and Edge’s two worlds collide. Can Jade learn to trust him when he says he is her pre-ordained and vows to do everything he can to protect her? But more importantly, can she trust herself and the woman in her mind?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

 Waterfalls Down by Danielle Rohr

Water Falls DownWhat have they done to me here, to cause me to be unable to see beyond my cage?

Three teenagers committed and locked away in a mental institution act on impulse, and manage to escape. Without a plan, money, ore even identification Lynn, Chelsea, and Garret must find their way in a very big, and very predatory world. After a great deal of travel and agony, they find paradise in the form of Yosemite National Park. Battling the elements of nature, as well as mental illness leaves these three broken, and defeated. Will they find the solution that can save them, or will they fight against the current until they grow weak, and become just another statistic?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

Mere Enchantment by Alicia Rivoli

Mere EnchantmentA World Like No Other…

When a newly formed group of friends finds themselves fighting for survival, little did they know that was just the beginning.

When Chloe, Megan, Jason and Zach are forced to take cover in a nearby cave from a violent storm they find their new friend Preston there as well. Zach guides the group through the cave but as they go deeper strange things begin to happen and they find themselves separated in a magical kingdom surrounded by unusual people and wizards. Things get even more dangerous as they travel the kingdom in search of the city of Mere and each other.

As their journey unfolds, Preston discovers that the bedtime stories he was told as a child are true and that his rightful place in time must be realized. The kingdom itself has gone under attack as Jacan, a traitor to the crown, forces his armies through the magical borders.

Looking back Preston should have recognized that it was all real. He should have seen the signs. But how could he have known? After all, Jacan was just a villain in a story that took place in a far off mystical land. How could he have imagined that the stories that his father told him as a child were true?

How could any of them have known that their destinies were already written, and that to discover who they really are would take courage that they never realized they had?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Smashwords

American Girl on Saturn By Nikki Godwin

American Girl on SaturnThe summer after graduation is supposed to be that first real taste of freedom – but not for eighteen-year-old Chloe Branson. Just as that breeze of freedom is making its way into her galaxy, her secret-service-agent dad drops a meteor-sized bomb of bad news on her and her sisters. An attempt has been made on the lives of Canadian boyband, Spaceships Around Saturn, during their USA tour, and the guys have to go into hiding ASAP. The only problem? In the midst of the crisis and media frenzy, their dad volunteered to hide the guys…in their house.

Six-year-old Emery is as ecstatic as any self-proclaimed Saturnite would be, but Chloe and her seventeen-year-old sister Aralie watch their summer plans crash and burn like a falling star. The SAS guys aren’t happy with the situation, either. Bad boy Jules picks fights with Aralie about everything from his Twitter followers to his laundry, and heart-throb Benji can’t escape Emery’s fangirlisms for more than three minutes.

But after the super-cute Milo kisses Chloe during a game of hide-and-seek, she finally understands what Emery means when she talks about SAS being “out of this world.” If this is what Saturn feels like, Chloe doesn’t want to come back to Earth.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Smashwords

First I Love You by Genevieve Dewey

First I Love YouOne part Godfather, two parts Emma and a dash of Casablanca mixed together, “First, I Love You” isn’t a detective novel, a gangster novel, a mystery, a romance or a family saga. It’s a little of all of the above.

Imagine being a detective with a mobster for a father, or a mobster with a straight arrow, good cop for a son. This is a relationship that is tricky on its best day. Add in some well-meaning meddling from a mob princess sister, an arrogant DEA agent, and gangsters running a human trafficking ring and you have a recipe for a book that refuses to follow the rules. Told from the perspective and point of view of each the six main characters this is the first novel in a trilogy about love, loyalty, revenge and redemption.

Omaha Detective Tommy Gates has kept his gangster father at arm’s length his whole life. Mickey Downey has spent the better part of the last two decades trying to find ways to get back the son he lost through Witness Protection. Now Tommy has taken an opportunity to work on a Federal Human Trafficking Joint Task Force in Chicago where his father lives. Tommy’s sister Kiki and his mother Mary see this as an opportunity to build a relationship between the two. Tommy’s new DEA partner James Hoffman sees it as an opportunity to gain leverage over Mickey Downey. Tommy’s other partner, FBI Agent Ginny Sommers wants to keep Tommy’s family as far from the case as possible. When Kiki and James join forces, sparks fly and it sets fire to a maelstrom of unexpected consequences for everyone involved.

Amazon

A Construct of Angels by Andrew Toynbee

A Construct of AngelsAfter accidentally triggering the spontaneous resurrection of a dead student, an ordinarily routine day for York-based paramedic Sara Finn erupts into a series of events that propel her on a terrifying journey, promising to forever change her pragmatic opinions of life and death.

Still haunted by her domineering and abusive stepfather and driven by a life-long search for her missing younger brother, Sara finds herself caught in the crossfire between warring forces, powerful beyond human comprehension, that threaten to plunge civilisation into hellish chaos and eternal darkness.

This, the first in the ‘Angels of York’ series, follows Sara’s increasingly dangerous adventures during the six days that lead up to the September Equinox, a time of increasing darkness. As the population of York is plunged into panic, overwhelming the emergency services, Sara finds her loyalties torn between her newfound companion, now incarcerated within York’s largest mental institution, and her sworn medical duties.

Should she lend any credence to his insistence that his purpose on Earth is to prevent an imminent catastrophe? Or that it is being orchestrated from within the city itself?

As her nights are filled with terrifying dreams and she is once again confronted by the memories of her abusive childhood, Sara is forced to accept that only one avenue remains open to her – to put her own life to one side in order to help prevent the rapidly approaching doomsday.

Amazon ~ Amazon UK

Deer in the Headlights by Staci Hart

Deer in the Headlights

Sweary, Sexy 18+ Romance

How do the Greek gods kill time? Because they’re always bored. It’s an unavoidable downside of being alive for thousands of years. So, they play games. Games with human players. Remember Shakespeare? Yeah, that was Apollo. Bonnie and Clyde? Aphrodite vs Ares.

It’s Aphrodite’s turn once again in the rounds of competitions, and she’ll defend her domain: Love. She hasn’t lost a competition on her turf in over three millennia, and she’s not about to start now. Apollo is her first competitor, and he’s on a mission to win. If he wins, he’ll get a token; a favor that Aphrodite must fulfill. And with that favor, he’ll finally get the one woman he’s never been able to have.

Aphrodite and Apollo will choose their human players, and if Aphrodite can’t get them together before the clock runs out, Apollo will get his way. And she couldn’t have that.

Lex and Dean are perfect for each other. They just don’t know it yet.

Dean is a perpetual bachelor, and a man-whore. A brooding, gorgeous, rock star man-whore. Lex always has a boyfriend, but she’s never let anyone in enough to let herself go. Not really. Not ever. Aphrodite has her work cut out for her, but if she can’t make it work, no one can.

But she has more at stake than just Lex and Dean. Apollo killed her mortal love, and that beef has been dragging on for thousands of years. Ares, the douchebag, is forever trying to start a fight, and get Aphrodite into bed. And Persephone, her best friend, is the one person she can confide in, laugh with, and always count on for a healthy helping of bacon when she’s having a bad day.

Follow the gods as they fight, laugh, cry, lose love, and gain power. Making a mess with humans has never been so fun.

 Snake in the Grass by Staci Hart

Snake in the GrassIt’s Round Two of high stakes Love Connection on Olympus, and this time, everything has changed. For Aphrodite, at least.

Ares is on deck, and Aphrodite is nervous. As much as she loves to hook up with him, she doesn’t trust him as far as she could throw him, which isn’t very far. He’s a big dude. They haven’t been together in a very long time, but she can’t resist him. She never could. Even when every part of her screamed that he was a liar.

Ares has a plan to keep Aphrodite, for good this time. He wants to win the game, but he’ll hold back to get what he wants. He’s sitting on a chance that he’s been waiting thousands of years for, and he’ll do what he has to do to convince her to stay forever.

The only thing that could stop him is the secret that he’s been keeping from her for eons. If she finds out, it will destroy everything.

Kat and Dillon have been through a lot, and everything has been to protect their younger siblings. They have sacrificed everything to make sure their brother and sister are safe. The players are tough and loyal. Fierce and determined. But they become each other’s weakness, even though they fight it, and even though it means danger for Kat and her sister.

If Aphrodite can get the players over their egos and issues long enough to see that they’re meant for each other, the competition will be a piece of cake. One that she’ll eat a la mode, right in front of Ares, if she beats him.

Amazon ~ Smashwords

 What the Heart Wants by Staci Hart

What the Heart WantsIt’s 1984, and Tanaka Katsu is paving his way in the Yakuza. His marriage to Yuki was a business deal, and one that he has paid for with his happiness.

Aphrodite can’t stand that he’s so miserable, and Hera, the goddess of marriage and monogamy, has a strong hold on Yuki, who will do whatever it takes to get what she believes is hers. Aphrodite won’t sit by and watch Katsu’s life slip away with no chance at love, so when he takes a trip to Vegas, she’ll introduce him to his match.

Kim never thought she’d be in the situation like the one that’s coming her way, but what the heart wants is a powerful thing, and one that’s impossible to walk away from.

Amazon ~ Smashwords

Work in Progress:Marketing the Tour

Right now the manuscript just came back from my Beta readers hands. She found some great typos, and pointed out some minor changes that need to be made. It’s still in the hands of my amazing editor, Whyte Rose Violet & Scribes, but should be back by the week’s end. While I wait to hear back I’ve been working on marketing the blog tour, as well as the full paperback cover. There will be a release day blitz hosted by Girls Heart Books on June 20th, and then two weeks of tours for the books. The first week, June 24-30 will also be hosted by Girls Heart Books. The second week, July 1-7 has been managed by me. It’s a huge task to take on, but I’m really happy with the way things are shaping up. Here is the schedule (just waiting to hear back from one of my author fabulous bloggers, Babblings of a Bookaholic), along with tour button.

blog tour button

 

Blog Tour Dates and Stops:

July 1:

·         Sara–http://enthralledbybooks.blogspot.com/

Excerpt and Playlist

·         Danielle–http://denaliskies.wordpress.com/

Guest Post—Steamy Vs. Beautiful Sex Scenes

·         Amy–http://www.the-book-diaries.blogspot.com/

Review and Favorites Excerpt

 

July 2:

·         Maggie—http://maggiethom.com/

(Possible) Review and Interview

·         Tiffany–http://tiffanylovesbooks.wordpress.com/

Dream Cast

·         My Guilty Obsession—http://myguiltyobsession.blogspot.com/

Review and My Favorite Excerpt (guest post/excerpt combo—my fav and why)

 

July 3:

·         Julie–http://chapterbreak.wordpress.com/

Guest Post—Pros and Cons of being Self-Published

·         Dee–http://www.thebookwranglers.com/

Review and Interview

·         Faith–http://sweetreez.wordpress.com/

Faith’s choice playlist and dreamcast

 

July 4:

·         Nitzan-Katia Schwarz–http://drugscalledbooks.blogspot.co.il/

Guest Post—10 things I never thought I’d tell you

·         Rebekkah—http://themusingwriter.blogspot.com/?

Character Interview—Evan

·         Kimberely—http://kimberleyjones17.blogspot.com/

Guest Post—Making Sparks Fly

·         Krystal–http://enchantingreads7.blogspot.com/

Review and Evan’s Tattoo’s Guest Post 

 

July 5:

·         Tanya–http://abookparadise.blogspot.co.uk/

Guest Post-How I fell in love with writing again

·         Martha–http://theshortone08.blogspot.com/

Review

·         Mary Sue–http://marysuehobika.wordpress.com/

Interview

 

July 6:

·         Nicole–http://bookaddictedaa.blogspot.com/

Character Top 10—Evan’s for writing music

·         Vanessa– http://www.boekiesbookreviews.com/

·         Mandy–http://twimom101bookblog.blogspot.com/

Guest Post—YA Vs. NA

·         Jessica Tornese–http://jessicatornese.com/

Guest Post—Writing Rituals (where I write)

 

July 7:

·         Krista–http://breatheinbooks.blogspot.com/

Review and favorites excerpt

·         Kirsty–http://kvlovesbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

Character Interview–Emma

·         Christine–http://www.shebookblogs.com/

Review, Excerpt and playlist

Other exciting things happening will be the huge giveaway scavenger hunt. Each of the tour stops will have a bold term, which will earn an extra entry into the giveaway. What’s in the giveaway? Lots of great stuff, of course! There will be more to come on that later. New authors out there, blog tours are a huge part of a successful marketing plan. One thing to be clear is that they aren’t about increasing, but about increasing sales as well as exposure. This is about branding your style as an author and connecting with your readers. This is why giveaways are a great thing to have, the scavenger hunt is an even better way to get the readers involved on each stop. This is great marketing because each stop has something unique to offer, you solidify the want for the novel, and it also creates great marketing for the actual blogger who has assisted you by participating. One thing to keep in mind is the fact that blog tours are a lot of work, first there is the finding of bloggers, the organizing of the dates and the events. The events–that’s the biggest amount of work. There are a lot of posts to write, lists, character biographies and interviews. It’s ALL worth it, because honestly, just like writing a book, it’s amazing fun! I can’t wait for you to see the different posts on the tours!

As for the paperback cover–I’m having some trouble choosing the back cover photograph. Here are the choices. What do you think? It will be set to the lower right corner and will fade into the black background of the cover, and in case you are wondering, yes that is me.

back1 back2

Marketing Plan Creation (Part 3): Select Promotion Channels

Marketing Plan Part 3:

Select Promotion Channels

This week we will continue with Part Three of how to create your book marketing plan. We will be focusing on the process of selecting the channels by which you will promote your novel. In this segment we will not only talk about whom you choose to sell through, but also websites where you can promote your novels. First, let’s review some of the distribution channels that you have.

E-book Distribution Channels

As the expansion of the e-book continues and threatens to eliminate the printed novel, there will be more and more channels to keep track of. I’ve chosen to have my novels available on three for varying reasons. I’ve seen some authors that have their novel on around ten different websites. This seems a bit exhaustive to me, yes you can reach different types of readers, but as long as one of the websites that your book is on is working from an epub file, you should be good to go. The one channel that I would like to be on but that I can’t afford is the iBook store. This store, for those with iPhones, requires that each novel has it’s own e-book ISBN. The irony of this is, there is no such thing as an e-book ISBN, nor is there a real requirement for your e-book to have a different ISBN for it’s electronic format and it’s paperback formant. Unfortunately, ISBN’s cost around $165.00 each, and compared to the profits available, this just doesn’t make any sense for me. Those that have the IPhone can download any number of applications that would allow them to either buy the Kindle version, or one of the many Epub versions of my novels available. Onto some of the specifics of each channel available that I utilize:

Amazon Kindle

  • Royalties: 70% for all books priced $2.99 and above; 35% for all books priced $2.98 and below. You cannot sell your book for less than $.99, though.
  • Hidden Fees: Yes, there are hidden fees. They are disclosed on the KDP pricing page, but why they are there is beyond me. There is a delivery fee that is built into the 70% royalty pricing that is based on megabytes used to transfer the file to the purchaser. The thing that strikes me odd about this is the fact that no matter if you are choosing the 35% or the 70% royalty option, it still takes the same amount of megabytes to transfer the file. It’s a sales technique where we make something seem better than it is, then we build something in that depletes your profit.
  • File Type: .Mobi
  • Available on: All Kindle devices and devices with the Kindle Application. The reason you need the Kindle application is because of the .Mobi file–you can’t read this on anything but a Kindle.
  • Price Match: They state that they do price match, but not to Smashwords. As far as I can tell, from my own experience, they don’t price match to anyone EXCEPT Barnes and Noble. One of my novels was free for a full month on Kobo and Google Play–Amazon never price matched it. If you want them to price match, you do need to be in the 35% royalty option, but if they don’t do it at all–it doesn’t really matter.
  • Countries Available:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Andorra
    • Austria
    • Belgium
    • Canada
    • France
    • Great Britain
    • Guernsey
    • Germany
    • Italy
    • Isle of Man
    • Jersey
    • Lichtenstein
    • Luxembourg
    • Monaco
    • San Marino
    • Switzerland
    • Spain
    • United States
    • Vatican City

Barnes and Noble: Pubit!/Nook Press

  • Royalties: 65% for books priced $2.99-$9.99; 40% for books priced $2.98-$.99, and also for books $10.00-$199.99 (who would ever pay nearly two hundred bucks for an e-book, though?). As with Amazon you cannot price your book lower than $.99.
  • Hidden Fees:None
  • File Type:Epub
  • Available on: Nook and all other epub accepting tablets and e-readers (AKA everything but Kindle).
  • Price Match: From what I’ve read they have the right to price match, but for the most part I haven’t seen that they do.
  • Countries Available: United States and the UK, but in their pricing statements it says that they can sell your e-book in any country in which they or their affiliates reside. I’m sure that they will be expanding what countries that they reach.

Google Play

  • Royalties: (I couldn’t figure this out on the Google Play website because it’s so poorly maintained. I had to Google it…wow) 54%
  • Hidden Fees: Ha, if there were some, you wouldn’t be able to find them. I couldn’t even find the royalties on their website…
  • File Type: .Epub
  • Available On: All devices with the ability to download the Google Play application.
  • Price Match: Oh, yes…and they have the right to lower your price to a “competitive” price that is lower than others in the market place. This is great coupled with Amazon’s price matching policy because technically through their policies they could go at war with each other until your book was listed for FREE on both.
  • Countries Available: Japan, US, South Korea, Brazil, India, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, France, Russia, Spain, and Germany.

Kobo

  • Royalties: 70% for all books $2.99-$12.99; 45% for all books priced under $2.98-$.01. Yes! You can price under $.99–you can even price your book for FREE without falling into the monopoly trap that Amazon offers with KDP.
  • Hidden Fees:None
  • File Type: .Epub
  • Available: On all devices that take an .Epub file without the requirement for an application. This flows with their “ready freely” policy.
  • Price Match: Yes, price matching will occur on the price in the same country that the lower price is found at.
  • Countries Available: 200+ countries, including, but not limited to:
     
     
    Canada
     
    United States
     
    United Kingdom
     
    Australia
     
    New Zealand
     
    Austria
     
    Belgium
     
    Bulgaria
     
    Cyprus
     
    Czech Republic
     
    Denmark
     
    Estonia
     
    Finland
     
    France
     
    Germany
     
    Greece
     
    Hungary
     
    Italy
     
    Latvia
     
    Lithuania
     
    Luxembourg
     
    Malta
     
    Netherlands
     
    Poland
     
    Portugal
  •  
    Romania
     
    Slovakia
     
    Slovenia
     
    Spain
     
    Sweden
     
    Singapore
     
    Hong Kong

iBookStore

Based on my research you get 70% royalties

Smashwords

Upwards of 35% royalties, depending on the channels you choose.

Paperback Distribution Channels

It’s true that many still love the feeling of good ole’ print, but it’s not always needed. It really is a personal preference whether or not you choose to be available in print–many indie authors are no longer given this choice with their small publishers. This is because many small publishers are choosing to forgo print all together. Lucky me, I don’t have to forgo anything because I am self-published. That being said you can’t really lose if you choose to have a paperback available–depending on the channel by which you choose to make it available and the choices that you choose. There are two major choices out in the industry now, and I will give you my research on the two.

CreateSpace (an Amazon Subsidiary)

The great thing about CreateSpace is the fact that it’s completely free to use. There is a learning curve, and there is much time that has to be devoted to the formatting of the novel so that it will print correctly. If you want a paperback available you will have to be willing to spend at least 6 hours the first time you try to format your book in between covers and interior, along with reviewing proofs, etc.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad. I myself have my word files set up to be formatted for paperback, then I reformat them for e-book. The reason I do this is simple: e-book formatting is far easier than paperback formatting.

  • Costs: The costs associated with CreateSpace and minimal and are based on preferences. Your book is available to be listed on Amazon for free. When a customer orders the paperback from Amazon you don’t have to pay for anything–you just take your cut of the profits. Thus, this really is a win-win situation. The cost for the actual book if you should choose to purchase paperbacks for your own resale are reasonable to me.  There is a wholesale option, but you have to order a massive amount of books for that discount to occur. Your cost to purchase books to sell yourself depends on the options that you choose–page color, book size, amount of pages of your novel, etc. All of my books cost me less than $5.00 a piece. The shipping is fairly reasonable as well– $3.00 for the first book and $.50 extra for each book thereafter. Paperbacks are a great marketing tool for giveaways and getting your name out there at local schools and libraries. Plus, they are just so nifty!
  • Royalties: The calculation method for royalties isn’t as easy to understand for paperbacks as it is for e-books, the reason being is that there are actual tangible costs involved. It’s written as this: your price-CreateSpace share=your royalty. CreateSpace share is: sales channel percentage + fixed charged + per page charge. So in other words, it’s easier to just use their royalty calculator here.
  • Other Fee’ed options: Expanded Distribution (Ingram prints) where you pay $25 per book (and any time you update the book) and you get “expanded” distribution where your book can be available on other websites (but not their physical stores) i.e. Barnes and Noble, and is available to schools and libraries. That is how they pitch it. My way of looking at it is this: If a school/library wants my book they can buy it directly from me because I have it formatted with an LCCN. I have my paperback available on my website via paypal. With the expanded distribution, because there is another person taking a cut too, the royalties are very minimal–think cents. It’s highly unlikely that you will ever make the $25 back, unless you get as big as say Jessica Sorenson. At that point the $25 will be nothing. They also provide “marketing” services along with promotional printing services at obscene prices.
  • Price Match: Not applicable because they are the ones printing your book.
  • Countries Available: United States and Europe (UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and France)–this is nice. I’ve actually had a person on Europe buy my book. I thought it was my best friend–but it wasn’t. So cool!!!

Lightning Source

I don’t use Lightning Source, so I have fairly little information on it. I will fill you in on my research, but I find that first-hand experience is the best tell of how beneficial something is to an individual. Lightning Source is the primary source of print books for smaller independent presses. It works the same as CreateSpace in the way that it’s a Print On  Demand (POD) service. What’s nice is the fact that they also have hardcovers available, which CreateSpace does not. It also appears that they use Ingram as well for their distribution options.

  • Cost: $12.00/year/book, but unlike Amazon this fee is based on the fact that they merely distribute to others. They don’t have a store that they operate–they send your files to those associated with Ingram–including Amazon. As with Amazon you pay nothing for the books to be printed for those that order them, only if you order them yourself. It appears that the costs to order them for yourself are much the same as Amazon, but you get far more print options (Covers, Binding, Hardback, Paperback and Color options). If you are thinking about Amazon’s expanded distribution–you might want skip CreateSpace and do Lightning Source. It really looks like you will get more bang for your buck–this is only if they pay for your ISBN. If you have to pay for this as well then you might as well stick with CreateSpace because the cost of the ISBN versus the cost of Expanded Distribution is quite different and leans towards Expanded Distribution.
  • Royalties: Lightning Source collects the wholesale book price, deducts the cost of the book and gives the remainder to the publisher (you). There are no royalties involved because they are a printing company.
  • Price Match: Not Applicable, they sell your book for your list price to those retailers that buy it.
  • Countries Available: They work with 30,000 retailers in 100+ countries.

Just One Cup will be available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and paperback. Note that I’ve decided due to the lack of sales and general idiocy of it’s set up to not do Google Play. The set up was such a hassle that it’s not worth usage on any further titles. I will also be doing a paperback version of my novel via CreateSpace until I have more information on Lightning Source. From my current level of research I can see Lightning Source as being an excellent option, with the exception of one thing. It’s not clear whether or not they assign a free ISBN or if you have to pay to purchase one. CreateSpace gives you a free ISBN, to the tune of $125.00, thus if you have to purchase an ISBN for Lightning Source and are just looking for paperbacks, you might want to stick with CreateSpace. I must say that Lightning Sources options of matte or gloss finish covers, along with the option for hardbacks is a tempting one, and I hope in the future that CreateSpace expands its options to at least include matte or gloss finishes.

I recently did a write up that may be of interest to you if you’re looking at the four different e-book distribution channels that I have discussed. In the write-up I did an in-depth pro and cons of my experience with each of the four channels. You can check out the article Extending Your Reach here.

Where to Promote Your Novel

  • Goodreads: This is a great place to meet readers, network and to meet the precious bloggers. This is a website that you should take advantage of by making your presence known–not only by talking about your book, but by interacting with other readers and authors. I warn against using this site soley as a place to put SPAM about yourself. You should truly interact with readers and not only about your book. You should show that you want to have an active role in the reading community, not only as an author and businessperson, but as a person who loves the written word.

  • LibraryThing: I’m going to be honest with you, I no longer use this website. I have my own personal reasons for doing so, but it is a website that was recommended to me from reading around the internet. I don’t find it as user friendly as Goodreads, and I’ve had some bad experiences on there with other users. You might want to look into it, but I honestly wouldn’t recommend it as a place to promote your book or yourself. You might find yourself as shark bait, no matter how active you are.

  • Facebook: This used to be the bane of my existence, but I must admit that it’s been an essential and good marketing tool for getting word out there. I don’t suggest it for personal use, but as an author it’s a great place to put yourself and allow your readers to do the work for you. It’s a great word-of-mouth marketing tool that is easy for your readers to use to spread the word. I believe that is why it is so effective.

  • Blog: Create a blog, be honest on it, share things about yourself, writing and your readers–make it interesting, give people a reason to come back to your blog again and again. This means you should do more than just talk about how wonderful you are. You should interact with your readers, give your insights, share some (thin line here) personal information and give other authors a chance to shine on your blog.

  • Website: I use my website as pure promotion of my novels. There is nothing on there about anything else–that’s what my blog is for.

  • Twitter, Pintrest, LinkedIn and other social media:Experiment–see what works best for you and then rock it. Let us know how it works while you’re at it…Some one other than me might be just as inapt at social media, and I know I’d appreciate your thoughts on these other outlets. 😉

Marketing Plan Creation (Part 2): Market Segementation

Marketing Plan Part 2:
Market Segmentation

AKA Selecting Your Target Market

Marketing at a book expo at my Alma Mater.

Marketing at a book expo at my Alma Mater.

This week we are going to continue on with the second of the five part series on your book marketing plan. This week’s focus is on market segmentation or selecting your target market. Now, this may appear easy for a book. It’s simple because genres usually easily fit into a “target market”, unfortunately with all things book marketing related, it’s not really as easy as it sounds. The great part about this is the fact that your genre isn’t restrictive based on who you’ve written it for because there are a lot of, say, adults who love Young Adult literature; this expands your market share! Yes, that means more profits–we hope!

Selecting your target market means you need to consider whom you wrote your book for and what marketing strategies appeal to that particular target. You are taking a homogeneous market and dividing it up into more reasonable target areas. There are several simple ways that regular marketers concentrate on market segmentation:

  1. Geographic Segmentation: Your market will be divided up by the areas in which your clientele live such as states, countries, regions, etc.
  2. Demographic Segmentation: Your market will be divided up by socioeconomic factors such as age, sex,  education, income, occupation, etc.
  3. Psychographic Segmentation: Your market will be divided up by lifestyle, personalities, attitudes, values, interests, etc.
  4. Behavioral Segmentation: Your market will be divided up by the buying behaviors that a certain group exhibits consumption, usage, desired benefits, etc.

Now, how do each of these segments apply to you and your book marketing plan:

  1. Geographic Segmentation– I can tell you that this is something that I do not focus on. It is something that you should be aware of. You need to look at your publishing platforms and who they will help you reach. The publishing platforms that I use currently are Nook, Kindle, Kobo and Google Play. Each of these platforms is fighting for their market share and is able to reach different geographical areas. I can tell you from experience that Kobo hits the largest geographical range. I’ve had my books purchased in Estonia, Austria, and other countries that it amazed me I could reach. I say that you shouldn’t focus on this, is because you don’t have much control over what each of your chosen platforms hits. It either is going to be available in that country, or it isn’t. It’s not something I focus on because I want to reach as many people as possible. When I’m on Goodreads I except friends from every country–and I LOVE meeting people from new countries. I’ve never been to another country, so it’s stunning to me that I’ve met so many different people. I love the diversity of my readers and learning new things from them about their countries and cultures. This is an excellent opportunity for you to grow as not only an author, but as a human being. Please, take the opportunity and run with it–don’t limit your reach just to the US because you live there, or Canada because you live there. Broaden your horizons by geographically allowing any one and everyone to love your writing. I now have amazing readers and friends from Canada, the UK, and India to name a few.
  2. Demographic Segmentation This is where your genre will come into play. You will need to look at the ages that you are looking to generally attract. The reason I say generally is because you will want to attract others, and undoubtedly will (adults love Young Adult). One of the easiest ways to determine your genre and demographic age segmentation is by looking at the age of your characters. You will also want to look at the sex you want to attract to your novel (again generally) because the marketing strategy that you choose will be different for males over females and vice versa. Depending on the way your book is written you may also have to look at income and education, but this would be getting very specific. In marketing there are two different evils in segmentation: be too general and you won’t attract the clientele you are looking for; be too specific and you will attract limited customers, and you will miss other great opportunities.
  3. Psychographic Segmentation- You can also choose to focus on these factors. Your sub-genre will also play a large role in this. The different sub-genres often directly interact with a readers personality, attitudes and values. For example, you won’t want to target very proper people to read your erotic romance.
  4. Behavioral Segmentation- How this might affect you may seem a bit unclear, but buying behaviors of your market will affect you. This has to do with the availability of your novel, will it be an e-book or a paperback or both? Where will the book be available websites, brick and mortar or both? You will want to know the buying behavior of your target market to help you learn how to best advertise. You will also want to think about the profitability of each option.

Now, onto the example with my newest novel, Just One Cup:

I will use demographic, pyschographic and behavioral segmentation to obtain a select market of readers:

My demographic is New Adults in the age range of 17+. The market is mainly 17-35, but there will be others attracted. The novel is a Contemporary romance so I will be looking to attract a mostly female demographic, and as far as pyschographic, the sub-genre will attract those with a personality that has an interest in love stories, stories of rising above your past, and becoming a better person. The  buying behavior of those reading New Adults seems to be e-books, so the novel should be available on as many e-book platforms as possible. I do not want to miss out on the portion of the population that still craves the smell and feel of paper–so I will also have a paperback available. The paperback will also act as a good incentive for giveaways and promotions.

Now that we know our market segmentation we can concentrate on the ways that we will attract these important readers in Part 3.

The Book Marketing Essentials

Book marketing is a trial and error sort of business, but in my experience, most marketing is. You have to find what works for not only you, but for your target market–for your novel and your goals. The whole idea can be daunting, especially for those authors who claim hermacy is a huge benefit of being a writer. I’m not a hermit–I’m pretty sure all of you know that by now. Marketing is all about being bold, taking necessary risks, falling on your butt and getting back up again. It’s about determination and drive, and it’s anything but simple. There are some ‘essentials’ that I think can work for most every author, and that should/will be essential to every author if they wish to be successful. Yes, you need a marketing plan (PART 2 coming this Saturday), but we can be even more simple than that. A marketing plan can be overwhelming for a new author just entering the business, and while I implore that it’s very important–there are more basic things you should do. Just four simple steps:

  1. Readers come first- Yes, I know you write for yourself, but you’re staring at this page for a reason. You want to be successful! In the business world the client should always come first–word of mouth marketing is priceless in so many ways. Word of mouth is literally priceless, you don’t have to pay anything for it and not only that, it’s also the best, most profitable way that you can get your book out there. Why? I can sit here and tell you my book is amazing , it really is–I promise. Do you believe me? Yeah, I didn’t think so. The thing is the person who is the author will, of course, believe their novel is good–that’s why authors shouldn’t review their own novels. I’m going to be blunt, I see an author has reviewed their own novel and I roll my eyes. The reason word of mouth is the best is because consumers trust their friends, family, and even reviews more than they trust you. That they should, those opinions are more likely to be honest and unbiased. Your review of your novel cannot and will never be unbiased. Thus, your reader must come first. Happy readers tell their friends and family about you and promote you whenever they can. They paid to buy your book and they become your own promotion party (or lynch mob). Yes, you wrote the novel for yourself, but when you publish it you’re publishing it for your readers. You need to keep them in mind–especially on things like Goodreads, Facebook, your website and your blog. By interacting with your readers in a genuine way you show you care. This will make them far more apt to tell all their friends about you. It will become “I got to read this great book, and not only that–she/he is a great person!”. You can accomplish this by actively interacting on Goodreads, and when you are large enough starting Q&A groups where you interact with directly with the readers. No matter how big or small you are, your readers have the opportunity to take your career to new heights, so respect them and genuinely care about them. Go the extra mile.
  2. Sponsor Events– I can imagine that reading that probably made your head go into a tail spin. I don’t mean anything huge–I’m talking something like customer appreciation. It doesn’t need to be anything complex–it’s just going the extra mile to show you care. A great “event” is throwing a week long free promotion, or when you reach so many “likes” a signed paperback to a winner. You should find something that your readers enjoy and run with that. I’ve discovered that signed paperbacks are very popular, but to you they may be costly. Things that can be very cost effective are hand made swag items–I’ve used a variety of things, but I am very excited for the swag I’ve developed for my new novel, Just One Cup and the great part is, my readers are too. I’ve learned readers love swag.
  3. Don’t always talk about you– It is hard to read other books when you are trying to pound out a handful or more a year, but I cannot stress the importance of this. Read other authors, review them, support other authors and host them on your blog or website. This not only shows that you aren’t completely self-absorbed, it’s word of mouth for another author, and you show a bit of your personality with what you read. I would advise to not slander another author. It’s a tricky line when you are reading another person’s book, whether or not you know them. I often post updates of my thoughts on Goodreads–and I’ll be honest, they aren’t always shining. The thing I do make sure I do when I write a not so favorable review is to make sure it’s clear that it’s my opinion, and I’m not right. The worst thing you can do is write a review like you are God’s gift to reviewing, because then it looks like you as an author are a complete @$$.
  4. Collaboration and networking are goldYou can very effectively tie in  2 and 4 together. If you are networking with other bloggers, specifically book bloggers who are helping you, give them incentive to help you. No, I don’t mean a bribe–I mean something to thank them. What you will do is create strong relationships with bloggers who will tell more bloggers about you. It’s word of mouth again. Another thing is to make sure that when they ask you to do something, you do your best to do it for them. If someone wants to interview you, jump at it, someone wants a guest post, do it. I must advise that these things do take up a massive amount of time, but they are fully worth it. A great way to network is to check out Goodreads and meet bloggers there. I don’t mean you go on there and start spamming people. I mean you go there and interact to form genuine relationships with the bloggers. Then when you need their help, they will be more than happy to oblige. Collaborating with other authors is another key to the situation–host other authors on your blog. I’ve done this a few times–I find an author that I love, read their book, review it and then contact them for a guest post or interview. The great part is that they might return the favor–if they don’t it is still rewarding to know you helped another author. A word of caution I put here is trading reviews. I don’t do it. Why? It’s kind of like blackmail. You can’t give an honest opinion without fear of retribution on their review of your novel. Thus, when I am contacted by authors asking me to review their novels I kindly decline and instead tell them that if I read their synopsis and find it interesting I might pick up the novel on my own time, with my own money. I tell them that they can do the same for mine if they would like. I then offer to host them on my blog either way.

Oh, and never ever respond to someone’s review of your book, or tell your friend to respond to a review of your book that wasn’t fully to your liking. You might want to, but what you might do is alienate a potential reader of your other novels–a potential word of mouth promoter. Some negative publicity is always good anyways–not every reader will love your style, or all of your books, but they might love some of them. They might even  enjoy watching you grow as a writer, BUT if you respond to their thoughts you will never get that chance. You will line yourself up for some very bad promotion via word of mouth.

 

 

Marketing Plan Creation (Part 1): Defining Objectives

Marketing Plan Part 1:
Defining Objectives for Your Novel

Most of you know by now that my educational background is in marketing. Currently, I’ve just completed my marketing class that was specifically garnered to relationship marketing, which is very important in terms of developing a relationship in publishing with your reader. There are other more basic (not to say they aren’t complex, they are just more well known) marketing fundamentals that are also important in the publishing world. These fundamentals are especially crucial if you choose the route of indie or self-publishing. In the world of indie and self-publishing you will run much of your own publishing world–this is to say that you will need to be the one to develop your own marketing plan or strategy. The traditional marketing process of creating a marketing plan can easily be adapted to your novel, and I am going to do a five part series where we talk about the steps in your process. The first step in any solid marketing plan is to define the objectives.

Defining objectives means that you decide what you are going to promote, what your goals are, how profits will be measured, and finally how failures will be measured–yes, I just said failures. We won’t be sugar coating anything here. A good marketing plan is unbiased and truthful. You need these two things to ensure your own integrity and success.

1. What are we going to promote?

This may seem obvious–your book of course, but is it really that obvious? You have two roads to go down–promoting yourself and your book. Your book is a part of you, is it not? So, when you are promoting the book you should also be promoting yourself. You can do this through author interviews that focus on you just as much as they do the book. You can take an even more basic route–make these plans separate, as I do. Promoting myself is done via the same channels, but in slightly different ways. Promoting yourself doesn’t mean spamming (AKA painting yourself across the internet heedlessly, which looks much like bragging. It’s annoying. Don’t. Do. It.). What this means is adding value with your presence–let your readership get to know you on a professional writer level, with some personal stuff put in there. Be real, just not so real that people cock their heads and go, huh, and why are you telling me this? I’ll reference this in a different post where we discuss the difference between professionalism, coldness and sharing too much information at a later date. Keep tuned! For the sake of this post series I am going to use my newest novel, Just One Cup.

I am going to promote Just One Cup.

We need to know the product that we are promoting to do it properly. What is Just One Cup? It’s a New Adult Contemporary Romance Novella. Great, now that we know what we are promoting we can move onto the next step:

2. What are the goals of the promotion and the product?

We’ve talked about goals before in Sales Saturday: Setting Goals. Goals need to be specific, challenging and measurable.

  • What do we mean by specific? The goal needs to be see-through. It can’t be vague. The best goals are set with numbers, this makes them both specific and measurable.
  • What is a challenging goal? It’s one that’s still realistic, but stretches the limits. Goals need to be made to be achieved, if they are unrealistic they end up working adversely; instead of being enthused to continue, you end up burnt out, upset and off track.
  • What do we mean by measurable? Either you get there or you don’t, period. You reach 100 or you don’t. You break Kindle ranking at 50,000 or you don’t. Simple.

Goals for Just One Cup:

  • Release book in Spring 2013.
  • Organize cover reveal for April 30th, 2013.
  • Begin marketing the novel heavily 15 days before release. This will require advertisements to be running on at least 30 blogs.
  • Run a month long blog tour.
  • Reach 75 reviewing readers via sales channels, giveaways and R2R or ARR.
  • Sell 150 copies by the end of the year. To keep on goal we must sell approximately 22 novels per month, unlike before this goal will be separate from giveaways. This means this goal is very high because I don’t usually sell more than 10 novels a month–on a good month.
  • Break the 25,000 rank on Kindle e-book sales for three consecutive days.

3. How will profits be measured?

You will need to reach a number that is based off of your targeted reach, your price point and, for myself, that includes paperback and e-book sales. For me paperback sales that are done directly through myself and my website are the most profitable. You need to know your sales channels to correctly measure profits. You need to know your royalty numbers and what your own mark-ups will be for paperbacks. As an emerging indie or self-published author your goal may just be to break even. You must, though, as some point measure the profitability of your time and efforts that go not only into writing and editing, but also into marketing, promotion and material costs. If you break even forever you will not feel accomplished, you will get burnt out, and you won’t end up feeling successful. Please don’t misunderstand me–making a dollar is better than making nothing. A part of running a business is reaping rewards both material, monetary and emotional. Writing, publishing, marketing and promotion are draining activities. It’s not all fun and games, so if you never see a dime from all that effort you will end up stopping at some point. If you don’t–kudos to you, you’re amazing.

Just One Cup is a novella length book, so the price point must take this into account. Thus, the price point will be $1.99 for the e-book. This will mean that no matter the sales channels I choose, the royalties will be set at 45%. That means I will make $.90 for each e-book sale. I would say 90% of my sales will end up being e-books. Our goal is 150, so if we do the math we stand to make at goal $121.50. The built in failure rate that I have is accomplishing only 75% of my goal. Thus, this puts us at 112 books, profit being $100.80. Unfortunately, at this point the length of Just One Cup is still in progress. This being said I don’t have any hard numbers for paperback sales, but when I go through Amazon I make 45%. If I sell them myself I make much more than that because I price at the same point as Amazon, except I collect all profits and Amazon gets nothing. It’s nice to say that, but then again paperback sales are almost non-existent and are better used as incentives to drive interest in the product during blog tours as giveaways. They do come in handy for book expos, though, and knowing your profit margin will help you greatly. If you will be selling in book stores, you really need to take the time to get your numbers for your paperbacks correctly. I didn’t do this for In Between Seasons, and because of this I lose money when I sell this novel through the bookstore. Bookstores work on consignment, typically 40-60. This means you make 40% of the price point. That doesn’t seem bad because at Amazon it’s 45%, right? NO, you have costs that are associated with selling at the bookstore that you don’t have when selling on Amazon. When Amazon takes their 45% cut it’s after printing costs. When you sell in a bookstore you front the cost of the book. Let’s use In Between Seasons as an example. The book is priced at $9.99, and it costs me about $5.00 to get it printed and at my door. The potential profit is then reduced by approximately 50%. Now figure what you will make from the sale at the bookstore, $3.99. It’s easy to see that I’ve lost money on this one. This is why when you look at the back of Walking in the Shadows the price tag is $14.99. In order to break even at the bookstore this is the price point I must get. If you look on Amazon it’s less on there, because I don’t have over head and consignment to pay, BUT getting it from me is even better because I sign it for you 😉

*Note: If you are going to take on the expenses of marketing materials such as swag, advertising, etc., you will need to reduce your profit by the amount spent. The way I take this into account is by keeping these costs at a minimum. I make all my own swag, so I don’t pay someone else for it, and I buy most materials at wholesaler prices. Being price savvy with marketing materials will help you a lot in the long run. Vistaprint is an amazing site for promotional items because they run a boat load of sales–purchase during sales and you will be golden and always search for a coupon!

3. How are we going to measure failures or losses?

This is were that built in failure rate comes in; most likely, not all goals will be accomplished. These goals are often monetary goals. What are you going to do when you fail? How will you rank failures, and how will you build them into your plan? In book sales, this is really a much easier process than say with loans (with loans this would be a maximum acceptable default rate–you keep money in your reserves to cover this). The reason that this is easier because it’s simple–do you feel your time was well spent for whatever profit you did make? Unless you never sell one book, you don’t lose a ton of money–time yes, but not money. This is the point where you need to step back and reassess what you are doing in the other areas of your marketing plan–specifically PART 3, Implementing the Plan. If you aren’t making your expected profits than you will need to reassess your implementation of your plan, you may also need to take another look at PART 2, Selecting a Target Market.

Failure rate would be on the goals of not reaching enough readers, and only meeting 50% sales target. At this point I need to look at my target market and what is not working in the implementation of the plan.

That’s it, you know your product, your goals for the product, how you will measure profits and failures. Part 1 is complete. Sit back and relax. You’ve done a great job, and you’re that much closer to success!

 

Sales Saturday: Setting Goals

Here piggy, piggy! Here piggy, piggy!

Oh, the irony is that piggy bank looks like it has a boat load of money beneath it, but IT doesn’t. By my banking eye calculations it has about $30.00 max underneath it because it’s all dollar bills. Luckily, I probably made about twice that this year in book sales since May…That is unless you minus all the stuff I gave away as far as e-books, etc. Then I would probably have a piggy bank like this:

Last year I set out on a whim to self-publish. I got In Between Seasons out there and then after lots of hard work and sweat and finding mentors and lynch mobs, literary snobs, and literary elitists, and the fans (I have 46 fans on GR, and you know what? I only know 2 of them personally!!!) I published Walking in the Shadows, a much cleaner and better demonstration of my writing style, voice, and what I hope is skill. I also started to develop my own advertising and marketing prowess with what people either loved or hated for covers, and advertisements. The thing about my covers is, it’s something new, YA covers DON’T look like that. They have girls in fluffy dresses, hot shirtless guys and pretty girls sobbing, and more than half the time they HAVE nothing to do with the book–absolutely NOTHING. I don’t want to be like everyone else. Will some of my covers have pretty girls in dresses on them? Yes, but I’ll have taken the pictures, or my husband because I don’t know many people other than myself to put in them. Will they have shirtless guys on them? No, sorry, you can’t see my husband shirtless. 😉

Though, I am having a dilemma with the cover with my current work in progress…although, I do have a option floating around in my mind deviously…I think, if I can pull it off, it’s going to be awesome!

After all that I decided that I thoroughly despised medical coding and switched my degree to marketing, which I love, and I always have. I should have listened to my heart and not the imaginary dollar signs that were thrown at me. That was something else I learned in writing and publishing as well. If someone has a book called “how to make $46,000 a month selling your e-book” run the other way, if there is a book called “edit yourself into print” burn it. Those were the mistakes I am willing to admit I made with InBS. I listened too much to sources like that and didn’t go with my gut. I also lacked any sort of planning. I walked blindly into the world of publishing, and to be honest, I’m still stumbling–dealing with my own failure in the face of those that say they’ve done less, but they’ve sold more. Maybe they just have more friends than me, who knows. I’m going to keep trying. This year I’m going to use my business management skills, though. I’m stepping in more knowledgeable and applying those skills I’ve learned elsewhere. Along the way I’ll continue to share them with you on Sales Saturday, but mind you, don’t step forward with the advice unless you believe in it and you feel good about it.

Goal Setting

In business goal setting is a very important skill to have, especially when you own and operate your own business. I’ve seen so many blind goals thrown at people–one’s that say we want you to do this, but we aren’t going to tell you how. I’ve pretty much been thrown on my face for most of my business life. I’ve had to teach myself things and establish my own goals, and have devastated the goals set by others, but never met my own goals. I’ve seen the other side as well where the goals established by others are unbelievable in the fact they are not able to be accomplished–they devastate the person’s confidence before they even try.  The goal setting theory states that people are motivated by goals that they accept and are specific, challenging but not too much so, and they receive feedback and reinforcement. Being a writer, the feedback portion can be challenging. Why? Often times the feedback isn’t all that great–AKA the lynch mob. Other times it’s amazing–AKA the fans. Good reviews can be just as useless as bad ones though. The people giving the feedback–besides your editor and if you use a publisher, your publisher, are most likely not trained to give feedback. It’s all over the place and it lacks guidance checkpoints. You have to set your own goals as a business person and a writer, and although you aren’t setting them for someone else the same basic concepts can still be beneficial. Goals should be:

  • Specific: This will help you know what you want to accomplish it and let you chart how you plan on accomplishing it. The goal must be something that will satisfy your needs in your business.
  • Challenging: Don’t take this overboard–make a goal that is challenging but realistic. You don’t want to make a goal to sell 3 books a month if you already sell 3, but you don’t want to make the goal of selling 1000 either.
  • Accepted: Now this is more towards setting goals for others because they must accept the goals and understand them, but you should also accept your own goals–this ties directly with making it challenging. If you set the goal of 1000 when you sell 3 currently you are burning yourself out before you even begin.
  • Feedback: There should be a way for you to track your progress now compared to your progress in the past. A simple way to do this is to create an excel spreadsheet of your sales and track them weekly. This can act as a motivator to get you going and a way to realize your own accomplishments. I would say that one goal to not set is reviews because like I said they lack guidance checkpoints. They can help you to see if one book is better than another, but then again it’s an opinion so you could have all four or five stars and then get a few two stars that will plummet your overall score, while you can get mostly three stars and have the same balance of a score as the novel with mostly four or five stars.

So now that you have read all that you are probably wondering what my goals are for this year. Here they are:

Book Related:

  • Distribute 400 books this year between giveaways and real sales. Last year I distributed 240 books between InBS and WITS.
  • Publish 3 novels. Last year I published 2. I have one set in stone to publish this month, and I would like to release one in the Summer and one in the Winter. Which ones they will be really depends on the development of what I am currently writing.
  • Reach 250 followers on my blog. I am at 139 now, and that was since May.
  • Have 4,000 views on my blog. This year I got 2,800 views since May.
  • Reach 100 fans on Goodreads.
  • Get some five stars, get some two stars, maybe some one stars: Stop reading every review and making myself feel like a bug pinned to a board. Reviews are important, but when they make you feel like less of a person, less of a writer, like an insect–it’s time to stop reading them. I’m also hoping I will get so many that I can’t read them all.
  • Design at least 10 book covers for myself and other authors.
  • Get better at writing and marketing my book.
  • Continue to post at least three times a week.
  • Maybe, just maybe, make some money doing this.
  • Have a successful book reading.
  • Inspire someone.

Personal:

I can’t share all of these because anyone can view my website 😉

  • Receive my Associates Degree in Marketing.
  • Look into getting my Bachelors Degree.
  • Continue to expand my photography company Gio Design Studios–post at least once a month on there.
  • Begin the process of converting the photography company into a publications marketing company (designing covers/back covers, advertisements, book trailers).
  • Start to actually save some money.
  • Be able to say that I’ve kept the weight off for two years.
  • Try not to let people asking me if I eat bug me. Tell people to shove their sandwiches in their own mouths.
  • Get my In Between Seasons tattoo.
  • Help my dog lose some weight, too.
  • Continue to work out three times a week.
  • Start taking my camera with my everywhere so that I stop feeling like I’ve missed that perfect shot.
  • Manage my time better.

What are your goals? Are they specific and challenging? Did this post help you at all?