Posts Tagged ‘Goodreads’

On the 30th of this month, I will enter the realm of picture book authors. Frog’s Winter Walk is finally finished and it’s beautiful!

My favorite 3-year-old holding my latest book

My favorite 3-year-old holding my latest book

Kinda nervous, I’ll be honest. The publisher is very small, so it’s important that I do most – ok, all! – of the marketing and do it well. I’ve put together a marketing plan. It’s a well-researched plan and I intend to put it to the test starting August 20th.

My Pre-Release Marketing looks like this:

1. Set up a Goodreads giveaway. I’ve heard good and bad about Goodreads in reference to small and independent publishers, but I haven’t experienced it. I did a giveaway with Gateways and Unforgettable Roads. The number of people that signed up was significant. I haven’t received a review from any of the four people who received a copy, but I’m not giving up on that yet.

Why Goodreads Giveaways might work:
1) The giveaways put your name out there, but mostly people will see your book cover. Being a visual people, that’s important.

2) I sent copies of my books to Missouri, Kentucky, California and Vermont. That’s four places I will not be able to visit any time soon, but my book can.

Why Goodreads might bite:
1) People sign up for free stuff and never do anything with it. Although the folks at Goodreads remind the winners that a review on the book is of great benefit to the author, that Goodread-deed is often overlooked.

2) Depending on how many books you give away, the cost can add up. If you choose to go this route, remember to keep track of your expenses for tax deductions.

Action plan with Goodreads:
Register the book a few days before the giveaway will start. It will take a day or two to set up the give away, email the IT guy to add the cover, and any other issues that can arise.

2. Contact my Alma Mater – Grand Valley State University

As luck would have it, both the illustrator, Sarah Aman, and I graduated from GVSU. Their Alumni Magazine might be interested in doing a story about two grads who were fortunate enough to work together on this picture book.

Action Plan: What businesses, colleges, or organizations share a common theme with your work? Write something for that publication. Contact their publications department with a story idea. Have pictures to go along with it, just in case.

3. Start Planning the Launch Party

The launch party brings together family, friends, and potential readers (and future fans) to celebrate the accomplishment. A reading, an art demo, frog-shaped cookies…you know, kid-friendly.

Because Frog’s Winter Walk features animals as main characters, the launch party should be for children and should include animals. What better location than the local zoo? Again, a blessing, as Sarah works at a local zoo.

Action Plan: Look for locations for a launch party that include features from your book. Local museum, grocery store, local park…a place where you can offer an increase in attendance and they can offer a great location.

4. Typical Social Media Promotions…

Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus…did I miss one? 🙂 I’ve posted a few ‘here it comes’ posts with pictures and links to my website. I’ve also promoted other authors’ works as well as sending links to excellent blog posts. Social Media, as the name implies, is social. It’s not all about you. It’s as the saying goes: Give much, receive much.

Action Plan: Reblog, ReTweet, RePost. Practice crafting enticing titles on Twitter.

5. Tweek My Website

A website is not finished when you click ‘Publish’. That’s the beauty of it! We can change our website as our writing changes. Update your Author Biography. Keep it snappy and fun. Remember, this is the Internet – don’t share too much! Share your writing life and keep everything else private.

Common tabs for Author Websites: Biography, Books, Speaking Schedule, Awards, Press (Think Press Kit with downloadable pictures, ultra short biographies, and your area of expertise.) Somewhere in your website, include a link to your publisher, to purchase your book, to your Facebook page, to follow on Twitter…you get the picture…

Action Plan: Google your favorite (living) authors and browse their websites. What do you like? What turned you off? Make notes and imitate the masters. If I may be so bold as to suggest my website, you can see if I’ve taken my own advise 🙂 www.BooksByJessica.com (Notice that I capitalized the first letter of each word within my website. That allows potential website guests to easily read and understand your website name.)

Action Plan 2: For the tabs on your website, tap into your creativity by using different titles. Don’t confuse or mislead guests, but allow your personality to shine through.

Action Plan 3: If you have more ideas, please share! This list is by no means a complete list 🙂


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When I made the decision to become a writer, I will admit I had a very sunny image in my mind…

[wavy-dream lines have just obscured your vision]

There I am, sitting in my cozy (and clean!) house, poised daintily at my desk with my fingers flying over the keyboard of my laptop. I have a steaming cup of coffee on my left, a completed manuscript at my right, and quiet children at their own little desks busily working on their homeschooling. The ideas are just pouring onto the screen. The agent is calling again asking when the next manuscript will be ready. I have a book signing that evening and dinner is bubbling in the crock pot.

[Snapped awake by the jarring reality called…wait for it…Marketing!]

Oh, the dreams of fools. My house is clean-ish right now because I’ve not been writing. The coffee cup is on my left, but it’s cold and every time I take a sip I cringe.

My new coffee cup featuring illustrations from my 'soon to be released' children's book: Frog's Winter Walk

My new coffee cup featuring illustrations from my ‘soon to be released’ children’s book: Frog’s Winter Walk

There is a book – complete, printed and published – on my right and for that I’m celebrating! But that is also the beast I’m facing. Can you believe that people aren’t just lining up to read my latest release?

I know, humble pie served on a sparkling platter.

Not only must I write and manage my own household, I must now educate myself on the fine craft of using an ever-changing Internet to advertise my book.

If you are finding yourself in the same boat, here is a sampling of what I’ve learned:

1. Goodreads. They have a great forum for authors. I signed up as an author and now have an author page on Goodreads. I’ve also enrolled Unforgettable Roads for the Goodreads Giveaway. Once the giveaway is approved, I have to put the HTML code on my website. I don’t know how to do that, but I will learn. The Giveaway starts Thursday and my website host is down. Oh, happy technical difficulties!

2. Seeking Reviews. I made a list of people I’ve met via LinkedIn, Facebook, and past jobs and volunteer positions I’ve held. I sent each a paperback copy of the book with a kind request to read and review it. I hope that half of these people have time to read and review it. Perhaps I will gain some speaking engagements from it as well. I’ve discovered that people really do want to help the authors they know, but feel intimidated by ‘writing’ a review for a writer. It takes gentle assurance to ask for 1-2 sentences. Many feel that they should write a full book report.

If you are also an author and feel inclined to purchase Unforgettable Roads and leave a review, I will certainly do the same for your published work!

3. Media Pitch. This has been the most time consuming for me. The idea sounds simple – send a press release to local newspapers. Why it’s not simple: 1) I have to write the press release; 2) I have to find the names and contact information for the reporters who manage book reviews; 3) the newspaper websites are geared to sharing news, not their reporters; 4) no two newspaper websites are alike.

I finally do have five newspaper to pitch a press release to, but it has taken me four days to put this list together. (If you know more about how to streamline this process, I’m all ears!)

4. Press Kit. On my website I added a page for reporters to go to for my bio and pictures of me and my book. For this, I used high-resolution pictures and a fun, snappy biography.

5. Local Bookstores. This is next on my to-do list – visiting local stores with copies of my books. Despite my search of how to approach bookstores, I’ve found nothing definitive. Here’s my plan: I will check websites first to learn as much as possible before I make that first call. I am planning on calling each bookstore first and asking who I should speak to and scheduling a time for me to come in and meet them. With sell sheets in hand and copies of Unforgettable Roads that I will take with me to bookstores, I will speak to the person at each store who does the purchasing and leave a copy with them. My clothing will be professional, my attitude as confident as I can manage, my kids at home 🙂

With current trends of self-publishing and the smaller publishing houses with great eyes for talent and small budgets, learning to Market your own books is a necessity. I’m learning as I go and sharing what I learn so others can find ideas and encouragement. Below are a few links that I’ve found extremely helpful.

Ideas for Twitter from Author Media.

Making Your Book Launch Stand Out

How to Publicize and Promote Your Book

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Writing Gateways was my step into writing fiction for young adults. It was the book that I started over three times, wrote over a decade while I had three children and published it after adopting my fourth child. This work is one of my children, a labor of love, a maturing entity. I enrolled my first book, Gateways, in the Amazon KDP program a year ago. I did so under the hopes that the royalty payment would be larger and my book could be shared among readers enrolled in the Prime Program. Now I’m trying the 99 cent route.

Yes, it’s painful to see all my work: writing, editing, cover design… go for $0.99, but it’s never been about the money.

Do I feel lessened by the lower price? NO! I’m hopeful the lower price will encourage more people to read it (and leave feedback on Amazon.com and Goodreads.com).

Thinking about buying it for your Kindle? Here’s the Book Trailer. Click here for a preview of the first couple chapters. And if you do feel compelled to read it, leave a review. They are the golden nuggets for authors like me who are getting our feet wet in this world of publishing 🙂

Happy Monday!



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Last week was supposed to be the week of writing bliss: a week-long writer’s conference on the shores of Lake Michigan. Not only would I have input from published authors, editors and agents on my work, there was a manuscript critique, a pitch tutoring session and 4 full days of classes. From a stay-at-home mom point-of-view that week away offered meals I didn’t make, dishes that magically cleaned themselves (house elves?), a bed to myself, and no noses or rear ends to wipe. Like I said: Bliss!

But times being what they are I couldn’t afford it. I prepared for two weeks, editing queries and pitches to agents until they gleamed (thus the lack of blog posts) all the while hoping the funding would come in time. It didn’t.

I try to find the humor in the cost of writing conferences. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of four. That’s a gentle excuse for: I have no paying job.

This is particularly painful when agents will only accept queries and submissions from authors they meet at conferences. [sigh]

If you have read any of my previous posts, you are already aware of my “take it in small pieces” concept. I write in the minutes between lessons, I speak scene ideas into my digital recorder while I walk or drive, and I listen to books-on-tape while I drive-cook-walk-bake to keep up with the newest releases. I even go to the extreme of writing bits of stories on post-it notes. (http://bit.ly/RSy2mc  to read the full post) and how I scrape together a few minutes a day of silence (http://bit.ly/QMF25F ).

So I’m taking my “small pieces” idea to a whole new level. The REDUCED writing conference. Now don’t get your pages in a bunch- not ‘reduced’ as in ‘low quality’ – Reduced as in:

wRiting Effort DoUbled by Concentrated Educational Details

Over the next several days, I’ll explore writing resources I’ve tried, ideas to find new places and times to write, tweeking scenes into ‘I can’t put this book down’ experiences. But first, we must write.

wRiting. First and foremost, a writer must write. Thousands of people want to write a book. Few do because success of this goal is only accomplished by actually writing. Writing requires time and time is something few are willing to sacrifice. Time away from friends, time early in the morning before the kids wake, time off Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Goodreads and Freshly Pressed Blogs. Time NOT watching the new fall TV season or football.

Instead, a writer must create business hours and show up for work. Invest $10 on a notebook and a really nice pen. Turn off the wireless internet and tap away at the keyboard. Don’t worry about writing beautifully, just write.

Write about what? Where do writers harvest ideas?

Write about the very first time you rode a bike by yourself. Your first kiss. Your first pet. Write about your friend/sister/brother/mother/father who died of cancer. Write about where you were on 9/11. What would you do if someone drove off with your kids? What is your bedtime ritual? Your favorite song and what memories does it evoke? Why do you always purchase black skirts? What t-shirt do you still have from college? What was your first reaction when a friend was pregnant and you were not?

Start writing. A story will emerge.

Bonus Tips: I’m always on the lookout for time alone to write. That makes me sound like some kind of recluse or hermit, but for writing successfully, I’ve come to realize that despite the steps I can take forward through my post-it notes and digital recordings of scenes, I do need several hours of uninterrupted time to let the magic happen. Here’s a few outside-the-box ideas (and if you have any new ideas, please share!):

1. Kick your family out. Harsh, but it works. My husband takes our kids to his parent’s house for the weekend and I stay home. This works because his family lives relatively close. If they didn’t I would look into a nearby hotel with a pool where they could go for at least one night. While they are out having fun, I’m home compiling my work, reading through notes for blog posts, scenes, outlines and edits.

2. House Sit. I haven’t actually tried this one, but the thought has occurred to me several times. If you need a place to get away but don’t have the money for a hotel, house sit for a friend. It’s a new location, a quiet and empty house – kinda like a hotel without room service, but after all the money you save not renting a room you might go out to eat. It’s a win-win.

3. Use your camper. I have parked the camper (ok, my husband parked it, set it up, and then left me there) at a campsite and used the quiet time to work. Our camper has a dining room table and electric hook-up, a refrigerator…and a microwave. It really is like a hotel.

Next time: Effort

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