Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IWSG - ASK PZM: December 2013

It's that wonderful time again, the first Wednesday in the month, Insecure Writer's Support Group day, compliments of our very own fierce and noble Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavannaugh. If you think this group sounds like a good place and you'd like to join, click here


Do please check out Alex's post today. He's got an announcement to make AND some niffy surprises. 




It's a simple process: 

"Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post." 

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

IWSG co-hosts this month are: Julie Flanders, Heather Gardner, Kim Van Sickler and  Elsie is Writing!



Now that the INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT GROUP Website is a reality, please help us spread the word.  



ASK PZM: December 2013

Q:  The internet is constantly changing, so what worked yesterday is old news today. How does that affect marketing?

This is an excellent question because it is something that everyone who uses online marketing, not just authors, has to continually consider.
Who remembers MySpace?  If any authors are currently participating on this site (which still exists, because I just checked), these authors are probably not optimizing their book marketing outreach.
There are always new relationship sites coming online that could be helpful for reaching our target reading audiences.  But we can’t be everywhere at once, especially if we also want time to write our books.
This means that we need to keep a pulse on what new site is taking off and which new site is probably not going to be worth our time investment.
 

For example, I think that Pinterest can be a good site for authors because it does not take a lot of time to participate and keywords can help people find Pinterest boards and pins.  On the other hand, I’m not sure that being active on Pinterest helps sell books. But what is good about Pinterest is that if, for example, your blog posts with photos have the “Pin it” share option, it is easy for people to share.
Besides free online marketing options changing all the time, paid advertising options also change.  For example, Facebook now has very detailed paid advertising options and Twitter is increasing its focus on paid tweets.

Numerous experts give free webinars on these subjects (think Mari Smith for Facebook) and, if you can listen to some webinars live or on replay, the investment in your time can be worthwhile.  Plus certain paid webinars may also be worth your time and money.
You do not have to be an expert about all the major social media marketing opportunities.  But it does make sense to keep up with major changes that can help you promote your books.

Q:  How should an author encourage readers to read their book and write a review if they loved it?
 
One way of doing this is to ask for a review if a reader loved your book.  You can put a link at the end of an ebook or physical book that goes directly to the review page of your book on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever you want to send readers to write reviews.
Yes, the link will not be clickable in a physical book or on some ereaders.  But if you use a shortened URL such as bit.ly for the long permalink to the review page, readers should be able to easily type the shortened URL into their browser windows.

Q: What about marketing ideas related to holidays?
 
Definitely utilize holidays that relate to your books. For example, in connection with Veterans Day I tweeted the Kindle link to my ebook SOLOMON’S JUSTICE: A PTSD SHORT STORY.
Of course, tweeting in connection with holidays is a simple marketing step.  Use your imagination to come up with other ways to attract attention.
Perhaps you have a mystery novel that includes a recipe for holiday cookies.  Maybe an online kitchen utensil site would be interested in selling your book with a shoutout for the recipe and the kitchen utensils needed for the recipe.
     
Obviously these kinds of cross-promotions need to be planned months ahead of time.  Now would be a good time to plan for Thanksgiving in 2014.


When considering cross-promotional opportunities, remember that the starting point is what can you do for the other person.  The second consideration is what the other person can do for you.


TWEET #1 - How does the changing internet affect marketing? (click to tweet) 

TWEET #2 - How to encourage readers to write a review. (click to tweet)

TWEET #3 - Need some marketing ideas related to holidays? (click to tweet)  

 

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books, and she blogs on book-related topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com   

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ask PZM: November 2013 - IWSG



It's that wonderful time again, the first Wednesday in the month, Insecure Writer's Support Group day, compliments of our very own fierce and noble Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavennaugh. If you think this group sounds like a good place and you'd like to join, click here.



It's a simple process: 
 

"Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post." 

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

IWSG co-Hosts this month are CD Coffelt, Tina Downey, Isis Rushdan, and Michelle Wallace!

Please stop by and thank them for their time and effort. CD, Tina, Isis, and Michelle! You guys rock!

 


ASK PZM: November 2013

 

 




1. What do you think is the most misunderstood facet of the book marketing industry?

Book marketing takes a long-term commitment (basically forever) by the author regardless whether traditionally published or self-published and this means continually working on book marketing, even if a few minutes each day.

This also means being open to new book marketing opportunities.  An author cannot be content with only offline activities (book signings, book fairs) – instead an author must also embrace new online activities.
 
And authors should not abandon their older books when promoting new books.  In fact, here is a personal example of utilizing new opportunities for book marketing as well as promoting older books with newer books:

I have just adapted the screenplay “Hot Potato” that I wrote with my husband (and which is in the book FOUR COMEDY SCREENPLAYS on Amazon) into a novella on Kindle.  (See http://amzn.to/16gMBaS )  



Why did I do this?  Because I wanted to share this story I really like in an easily accessible format  – and because this ebook is one more opportunity to promote all my other books and ebooks on Amazon.

How?  Because I have links at the end of the novella for all my other books.  Thus each ebook on Kindle is a marketing opportunity for all my other ebooks.




2. Do you think because of the negativity surrounding book reviews that their value is diminishing?


No, I do not think the value of book reviews is diminishing.  Regardless of how much, for example, Amazon search algorithms take the number of reviews into account, reviews can be useful for multiple purposes.

One such purpose is that there are sites that will not list your free or bargain books unless you have a certain number of reviews and often with a certain star ranking. 

Another example is that you may want to use quotes from reviews for promotional purposes.

And regardless of the controversy over reviews, I suspect many people look at the number of reviews a book has as part of the decision as to whether to purchase a book.  If there are no reviews, I suspect potential readers may ask themselves:  Has anyone even read this book?

In other words, we authors have to keep up our efforts to get reviews for all books.


   




3. Are the fees to have your book submitted for a book award worth the expenditure?

I think this is a personal decision depending on your marketing budget.  Even if your book wins an award, will that award translate into sales?

The answer to this may partially depend on how you “advertise” that book award.  And does that award mean anything to your target readers?


Personally, unless you have a large marketing budget, I think it comes down to whether the money required to submit your book to award competitions could be better spent on promotional opportunities that are directed towards your target readers. 



4. Most authors seem to market their books primarily to other authors; what's the effectiveness of such efforts?

I am not sure that fellow authors are the best target market for buying our books.  After all, we are writing our books for readers who aren’t necessarily authors, so shouldn’t we be marketing to those readers who like our genre? 

In addition, many authors are so busy writing and promoting their books that these authors may not have as much time to read books (or the budget to buy books) as readers who aren’t authors.


Then there is the issue of not reading certain books while writing your own in the same genre.

For example, I am writing a dystopian thriller, THE MOTHER SIEGE, on Wattpad chapter by chapter (see http://budurl.com/MSintro).   While I have read dystopian novels, I am purposely not reading very successful ones now because I am concerned that I might unwittingly mimic too closely the work of other authors.




And, of course, we want readers to suggest our books to their friends as well as to book clubs, so we should be promoting our books to these potential influencers.

TWEET #1 - What's the most misunderstood facet of the book marketing industry? (click to tweet)

TWEET #2 - Is the value of book reviews diminishing? (click to tweet)

TWEET #3 - Should we register and pay a fee for as many book awards as we can? (click to tweet)



Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books on Amazon.  Her fiction books on Amazon can be found at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller and her nonfiction books at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller

She is also a digital marketer who blogs on book topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and you can download a free copy of her YA short story PINKY SWEAR at http://www.phylliszimblermiller.com/keep-in-touch/


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Buzz Deal on Dead Witness



SPECIAL ends November 16, 2013


Dead Witness
by Joylene Nowell Butler
Mystery Thriller

Retail $5.95
NOW ONLY $1.99
Valerie McCormick is a wife and mother from small town Canada. While visiting Seattle, she becomes the only witness to the brutal seaside murder of two FBI agents. When she flees to the nearest police station to report the crime, she becomes caught up in a web of international intrigue and danger. Suddenly, she and her family are in the sights of ruthless criminals bent on preventing her from testifying against the murderer. Even with FBI protection, Valerie is not safe. Whisked away from her family and all that is familiar to her, Valerie fights back against the well-intentioned FBI to ultimately take control over her life with every ounce of fury a mother can possess.
 





SMASHWORDS USE Coupon Code: VS33C


TWEET #1  Mystery Thriller DEAD WITNESS on sale until November 16 $1.99  (click to Tweet)

TWEET #2  On Sale until Nov 16th, Mystery Thriller DEAD WITNESS, $1.99 (click to Tweet)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

FNN Interviews the author of WOTAN'S DILEMMA

Today, a third-degree mishap for your reading pleasure. 
 

Faux News Network presents a special report from our cultural reporter Marcia Hammerhead. Today, Marcia will interview an author who has just released a new book.
 


Marcia Hammerhead:  Today, I'm interviewing a virtually unknown writer named Hank Quense whose latest book is Wotan's Dilemma.  Mr Quense, I must warn you that I love literary works such as Milton's Paradise Lost and Melville's Moby Dick plus artistic masterpieces like Ravel and Respighi symphonies and most operas.  I also despise genre fiction and I'm afraid the very title of your book smacks of some horrid little genre story.  Am I correct in my analysis?

Hank Quense: Yes, you are to a certain extent.  Wotan's Dilemma is a blend of scifi and fantasy, but it's not horrid.
MH: Oh dear.  Two trashy genres in one book?  This could be even worse that I first imagined.  And I'll decide if it's horrid or not.  Can you gives a brief synopsis of this wretched story.
HQ: Wotan's Dilemma is a retelling of an ancient story known as the Rhinegold Myth.  Basically, I used the storyline the opera composer, Richard Wagner, used for his Ring Cycle of operas, reset it in the future instead of the Dark Ages, changed the fantasy creatures to aliens and transformed the morbid tale into comedy.  Other than that it's pretty much the original myth. 
 

MH: I can't believe your chutzpah!  You dare to change a classic masterpiece into genre claptrap.  You should be flogged.  The Ring Cycle is a classic and my favorite series of operas and yet you desecrated it?
HQ: Well, not exactly. I didn't rewrite the music, I only changed the storyline.  Especially the ending.  Wagner composed great music, but his story-telling skills left much to be desired.  I had to change the ending, because Wagner's doesn't make sense. 


MH: I am shocked.  Shocked, that you haven't been denounced by opera lovers everywhere.  How dare you change the ending the of the world's greatest set of operas?
HQ: It had to be done, Martha.  I also made Brunnhilde the main character and gave her a quest: to understand and experience mortal love. 
 

MH: It's Marcia.  How can Brunnhilde be on a quest when she dies in the last scene? 
HQ: She doesn't die in my story.  She lives to go on with her quest.
 

MH: Obviously, your genre drivel must be withdrawn from publication and all copies destroyed before it damages Wagner's reputation.
HQ: I see no reason to un-publish it, Mary.
 

MH: It's Marcia, not Martha or Mary. You must un-publish the book. The Ring Cycle has no humor in it. It isn't meant to be a comedy.  It isn't meant to be scifi.  It's meant to be a turgid piece of horror, bloodlust and godly vengeance filled with great music.  It can brook no mockery such as your novel.
 HQ: Have you read my book, Martina?
 
MH: My name is Marcia.  Of course I haven't read it.  I told you earlier, I despise genre fiction.
HQ: If you haven't read it, how do you know I didn't improve Wagner's story?
 

MH: It's impossible to improve on perfection.  Since this interview has degenerated into quibbles, my readers will learn nothing of importance and it may actually insult their intelligence.  This interview is over.
HQ: Thanks for interviewing me, Madeline.
~ ~ ~
Faux News Network: despite Ms Hammerhead's prejudice, FNN is thrilled that the author agreed to be interviewed and insulted.  To learn more about Wotan's Dilemma click on the title.
 

TWEET #1 - FNN's revealing yet weird interview with Hank Quense. (click to tweet)  
TWEET #2 - Shocking revelation about whacking author Hank Quense. (click to tweet
TWEET #3 - Delightful and crazy author Hank Quense interviewed. (click to tweet)  
 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ask PZM: October 2013





Q. What are the advantages of being your own publisher if you buy back the rights to your book? Do you buy all your books back? How do you distribute the book without the help of the publisher?

While I am not an expert on these questions nor am I a lawyer, I do have experience having rights reverted to me from a traditional publisher.  So let’s explore these questions together.

There are many elements of the above questions:
If your books are not in ebook format and the publisher has no plans to put your books in ebook format, I would say definitely get back the rights to all your books and put these in ebook format.


If your ebooks are controlled by the publisher and you cannot add links for each new book inside your other ebooks or decide yourself on enrolling in Amazon’s KDP Select, etc., you might want to get back the rights.
(I got back the rights to a self-published ebook when I learned I had lost the ability to make changes in the ebook.  This was because my ebook was uploaded to the ebook converter’s KDP account instead of my own account.)
 If your paperback books are no longer available except as used books, I would say that you should get back the rights to all your books in this case also.  If the publisher still offers some of your books as new, then you might want to keep those books with the publisher until this is no longer true.

If your publisher is not doing a good job of marketing but you are marketing your own books, it may not be necessary to get back the rights.  You simply go on marketing your own books.
In terms of distribution – you can republish your paperback books basically for free via Amazon’s CreateSpace (I recommend this site because, besides using it myself, new books are listed on Amazon almost immediately) and choose the expanded distribution for a very minimal amount.  
I did this for my Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION (originally published in 1992 and co-authored with Rabbi Karen L. Fox) when the rights reverted to us.  This way we could make the book available on Amazon as new rather than having an Amazon listing that only used books were available. 
Obviously if your publisher has your books in major retail outlets (such as actual book stores) and your books are selling through these outlets, you may not want to get your rights back.  This is because on your own you are probably less likely to get retail outlets to carry your books.
  
On the other hand, if there is only one copy of your book in retail outlets and that copy does not sell because no one can find it on the shelves, then perhaps distribution through a traditional publisher does not have that much to offer you.
The problem is that there is no crystal ball – you cannot know for sure what is the right thing to do about getting your rights back.  And the publishing landscape changes so quickly that there are very few “for sure” landmarks. 
 
The one thing you can be sure of is that you are more passionate about your books than a publisher.  
If having the rights to your own books means you can have the books available as new on online book sites and have ebooks available, then seriously consider this option.
P.S.  And if you sign a contract with a traditional publisher, make sure that contract includes a specific time when the rights revert to you (and which rights revert).
 

Q:  Have there been changes on Wattpad for publishing works-in-progress?
Yes, there have been some important changes.  You can read my blog post about this at http://budurl.com/Wattpadchanges



Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books and the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com  She blogs on author and book topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com   


TWEET  #1 "Buy back the rights of your book"  (click to Tweet)
TWEET #2  "What if You market Your book"  (click to Tweet)
TWEET #3  "Get the rights back for your book"  (click to Tweet)

TWEET #4  "Are you more passionate about your book than your publisher?"  (click to Tweet)

If you have a question for Ask PZM in November, contact Joylene at cluculzwriter at yahoo dot com and she'll pass it along to Phyllis. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

IWSG: OWN WORST ENEMY




It's that wonderful time again, the first Wednesday in the month, Insecure Writer's Support Group day, compliments of our very own fierce and noble Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavennaugh. If you think this group sounds like a good place and you'd like to join, click here.



It's a simple process: 
 

"Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post." 

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG 

IWSG co-hosts this month are Julie Luek, Rachna Chabria, Beverly Fox, and Ilima Todd

Please stop by and thank them for their time and effort. Yay, Julie, Rachna, Beverly, and Ilima! You guys rock!


News:

I'm excited and thrilled to announce we've created a new website for Insecure Writers Support Group. Lots of wonderful things are going to arise from this site, co-created by my fellow admins, in no particular order: 

Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Lynda R. Young 
Joy L. Campbell
Michelle Wallace
Susan Gourley/Kelley
L. Diane Wolfe
and me - Joylene Nowell Butler


We have a Facebook page HERE

 
Our own special banner!


(drumroll, please) Check out the link for our INSECURE WRITERS SUPPORT GROUP's very own website!

 





Now for my post...



 Eden Robinson, Giller Prize nominee
Laura Robinson, award winning journalist
Daniela Elza, poet

I attended the Rural Writers in Residence retreat this past weekend in Smithers. During a poetry workshop given by Daniela Elza we had 5 minutes to answer the question: Why do I write?

After spending most of the time staring at the blank page, I finally wrote: Why do I write? I wish I could add something poetic and profound but in truth I write for the same reason I move, wake, breathe. I do all these so I can write. And I write so that tomorrow I may wake breathing. 


Daniela then asked us, "What haunts you?"  

Five minutes later I had written: One particular eagle flies by our window en-route to and from ... I have no idea. The first time we made eye contact it was a fluke. Or maybe not? I was standing at the upstairs window in the right spot at the right moment. His eyes met mine. Maybe he saw me as a predator? I don't think so. For three seconds our eyes locked and at once I sensed a familiarity, the belief that someone I knew was looking back at me. Since then when the leaves fall and the bare branches provide a clear line of sight, I wait for the eagle to glide past so that I may ask again and again, "Dad, is that you?"



In retrospect, my answers don't surprise me. I'm lost if I don't write. And if I can't write, I'm doomed; like a child grieving for parents who can no longer keep the monsters at bay.

What does surprise me is I thought I had my fears under control. I joined IWSG to help others overcome theirs. Yet, I attend a retreat and--through no fault of anyone's--suddenly my insecurities return with a vengeance. I was like a twisted pretzel, inspired by those around me yet thwarted by a sense of inadequacy. Who are you, Joylene, to be here among these gifted writers?

Since returning home I've been kinder to myself and my inner child. But having reared its ugly head, this feeling of ineptness has woke the monsters I was so certain were gone, and I'm left feeling wounded. Not a sensation I wanted to remember. Especially since I am a grownup. A writer. I have two published novels. A publisher. An award ... .

I'd forgotten how easily it is to be my own worst enemy. 




* Please return Sunday, October 6th when Phyllis in her column ASK PZM answers the following questions:

Q. What are the advantages of being your own publisher if you buy back the rights to your book? Do you buy all your books back? How do you distribute the book without the help of the publisher?

Q:  Have there been changes on Wattpad for publishing works-in-progress?