Monday, January 26, 2015

Marketing Monday: WordSwag – a Fun Way to Promote Your Book!


I totally missed getting up a post last week because of illness (darn you, flu-whatever-virus-sickened-me!) Because I'm still somewhat under the weather, I reached out to some friends and said, "Hey peeps, can you help a girl out and share some of your awesome book marketing tips?" 

More than one answered my call, and today's post comes from the very talented Jeffe Kennedy, an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, which released beginning January 2, 2014. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year

I shared all of that to let you know Jeffe knows her stuff, and we're very fortunate to have her here today! Take it away, Jeffe...
***

WordSwag – a Fun Way to Promote Your Book!
by Jeffe Kennedy

For my recent book release, Under His Touch, a contemporary erotic romance, I started using the WordSwag app to market the book. My lovely friend, the fabulous Megan Mulry, turned me onto using it.

You can see in this image, WordSwag is combining a quote from the book with an image. I use the app on my iPad mini (I think it cost $2.99). This is very handy because I can open the Word document of my book in DropBox, search for and copy a quote, then paste it directly into WordSwag. I’ve found it’s better to remove any special characters, because they tend to muck things up. Also, there’s a toggle for “Auto Line Breaks.” Counterintuitively (to me, at least), it works much better if that’s on.

For the image, you can take one yourself, right with the device camera, which is nice because you know you’re good on rights for it. They also have standard templates that are fair use built right in. If you use the search bar, it accesses FAR more images than show in the auto library. You can also access your camera roll from there.

While you can modify the text style on the screen where you “Double Tap to Add Text,” I prefer to do it on the page that shows both the text and image together. There are tons of styles and it’s pretty fun to try a bunch and see what works best for that particular quote and image. Setting up something for book promo – fun??? EXACTLY!

Then you can go right from there and share on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest or via text and email.

It’s a fun, eye-catching alternative to the “Buy My Book” thing we all face. It’s interesting to experiment with what quotes work best, too, for capturing attention. They have to be ones that work well out of context and create interest in knowing more. I’m still working on that part.

If anyone has suggestions or thoughts on that, let us know!

***
Previous Marketing Monday posts:

Marketing Monday: Creating short links and other Twitter stuff

Monday, January 12, 2015

Marketing Monday: Creating short links and other Twitter stuff


There's so much to discuss when it comes to book marketing that it's actually hard to pick a subject to cover each week. I mean, holy molasses, does it ever stop? Nope. Anyway. I was running out of time to get this post up, so I decided to pick a fairly basic task, something every author really needs to know how to do, and a reasonably simple thing you need to promote your books on social media. I'm talking about creating short links telling people where to purchase your books. For example, here's a sample tweet I recently put up on my Twitter account.



You'll notice (hopefully) the blue-highlighted link at the end that starts with smarturl.it. That is a short link to the real URL link http://www.amazon.com/Spirited-Away-Book-Angela-Campbell-ebook/dp/B00ME1M9AW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407149121&sr=1-1&keywords=spirited+away+angela&tag=smarturl-20. Long, right? On social media with character limitations, that can be a problem. Actually, twitter will automatically shorten your link for you, but I prefer to do it on my own. Why? Because I'm a control freak? Well, yeah, I am, kind of, but that's not why. There are pros to using a service such as smart url. I'll explain more below.

Now, there are a variety of services that allow you to create your own links. Which one you use is entirely up to you, and you might want to try each one to find the one you like most. I tend to use either smarturl.it and bitly.com. Here are what seem to be the three most common services used by authors:
To create a short URL, highlight and copy the URL of your book link — be it from your website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or whatever — and then go to any of these websites. You'll see a field where you can paste your original link. Click on create a short link, and boom. There's your short URL. Pretty intuitive and simple.

Now, I prefer Smarturl because it allows you to input various links into the same short URL, creating a universal link. Universal link? Huh? What the what? For example, when Gerard Depardieu in France clicks on the link, he will go to Amazon France while if Benedict Cumberbatch, in the UK, clicks on the same url, he will be taken to your book's page at Amazon UK. This is a feature neither bitly nor tinyurl offer, to my knowledge. Yes, it means some extra work, but in the end, it's worth it because it allows you to reach readers in different countries. You're making it easier for them to buy your book, because if Benedict Cumberbatch in the UK clicks on your link to Amazon US, he can't buy the book and would have to go to the Amazon UK site and search for it, and we both know Benedict Cumberbatch has better things to do with his time, right? Also, if Benedict Cumberbatch clicks on your link, massive high five, because that's just cool. Anyway.



I recommend registering for a free account with manage.smarturl.it before you start, so that all of your links will be saved and accessible for later use or adjustment. SmartUrl also keeps track of how many times your short link is clicked on, which can be helpful. Actually, bitty will also show you the number of clicks, and tiny url might, too — I'm not sure on that one. Point is, create an account to see analytics.

Once you have your account created, click on CREATE smartURL. You'll see a field for "default URL" link, which is where you should put your primary link. For me, since I'm in the United States, my primary link would default to Amazon US's link for my book. The primary link is entirely your decision. 

Next, you'll see a field for "Country Destinations." This is where extra work is required. If your book is listed on Amazon UK, but you're in the US, you'll have to go to the Amazon UK website, copy and paste the link for your book, and then paste it into this field, along with the name of the country. Amazon has websites specific to many countries — Amazon.ca is Amazon Canada, Amazon.fr is Amazon France, Amazon.de is Amazon Germany, Amazon.es is Amazon Spain, Amazon.co.uk is Amazon UK, and Amazon.com is Amazon US. I recommend visiting each, and if your book is available for purchase on any of them, adding it to your Smarturl for that book. A complete list of all of the Amazon websites can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=487250.

Remember how I mentioned analytics earlier?

It's a good idea to review your tweet analytics whenever you get a chance. It can help determine if your tweets are worded in a way that is driving people to learn more about your books. With that in mind, I recommend anyone using Twitter take advantage of Twitter analytics, too. Simply go to https://analytics.twitter.com. It's free! You can see how many people have clicked on your links, etc.

I hope you find this information helpful. Still have questions? Recommendations on other shortening services? Let me know in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading.


PREVIOUS POSTS:

Marketing Monday: Some tips on gifting books to readers

What new authors need to know, but no one usually tells them

Monday, January 5, 2015

Marketing Monday: Some tips on gifting books to readers


Happy Monday! I know. No such thing.


Still, as I said in my last post, I've decided to dedicate this day on my blog to sharing some marketing tips for authors selling books. Some I've learned, usually the hard way, or I'll invite my friends to share tricks they've learned. In case you missed it, my blog post titled "What new authors need to know but no one ever tells them" is one of the most popular posts I've ever written. I figure this either means lots of aspiring and new authors found the information really helpful or those pesky Internet bots really like that title. Either way, eh, why not? Please do keep in mind that the following tips are based on my own experiences and always subject to change over time.

For my inaugural post, I thought I'd share some tips on getting your books to readers. You've written a book. High-five yourself! But how do you get it into the hand of readers? Word-of-mouth is a powerful way to sell books, so you might want to gift copies of your books to readers in advance of or soon after its release to spur hype. Lots of authors will gift copies to readers via contests. Awesome, right? But, uh, how do they do it, you might be wondering. Obviously, if you have a paperback, you can simply pop it into the post and off it goes, but ebooks are a whole other ballgame.

If you're being published by someone other than yourself, it's a good idea to check your contract to see if your publisher has placed any limitations on the number of ebooks you can legally gift to others. Not all publishers include a limit, but many do.

And, here's some technical mumbo jumbo to consider. There are a number of ways to gift copies of your ebooks to readers, but you should really think twice before simply emailing a copy to anyone. Unfortunately book piracy is a thing, and it's a bad, bad thing for your sales. Don't be surprised if you email a copy of your ebook to someone and then find it on Pirate Bay a month later. DRM (Digital Rights Management) is encoded on most ebooks by publishers and book retailers to make it difficult to share ebooks with others. But unfortunately, even ebooks purchased from sites such as Amazon can be redistributed by people who figure out how to break the DRM coding on it. And if you receive an advance ebook copy from your editor or publisher prior to its release, it's probably not encoded with a DRM yet.

First, you'll need final, approved copies of your ebooks to send. Generally, your editor or publisher will send these to you months before your publication date so that you can contact potential reviewers and, yes, give away to readers through contests. There are generally three formats you can or will receive: PDF, epub, and Mobi. It's important to note that not all ereaders can read the same format. If you're gifting a copy of your ebook to a reader, be sure to ask which type of device they have. That will determine your next step. Kindles accept only Mobi and PDF files. Nooks and Kobos accept only epub and PDF files.

You have options when it comes to gifting ebooks to readers:

  1. Purchase the ebook from a retailer such as Amazon and have it delivered directly to your recipient. 
  2. Email the ebook to your recipient.
  3. Send the ebook directly to the recipient's device yourself.

There are pros and cons to each.

Purchasing the ebook from a retailer is an easy option, as it guarantees the ebook will be delivered with DRM coding and decreases the risk of piracy. However, it obviously costs you money, and Amazon, in particular, might prevent the recipient from posting a rating or review of the book because it will associate your account with the gifted ebook and assume the recipient is a biased friend. One possible workaround is to gift the ebook from an Amazon account NOT associated with your Amazon Author profile (which you really should have). But you'll still be out of pocket for the cost of the book.

Emailing the book to your recipient is easy, but you run a serious risk of piracy. Enough said.

Sending the ebook directly to the recipient's device is also easy, costs you nothing out of pocket, and decreases the risk of piracy (although a really tech-savvy person would still be able to pirate it, you're making it harder for them).

So I recommend the third choice, and here's how to do it.

For a Kindle, you'll have to ask the recipient for their Kindle email address. They can find this by logging into their Amazon account and selecting “Manage Your Content and Devices.” Click on “Settings” and scroll down to find their Kindle’s email address.

You'll need a copy of your book in Mobi format. Your publisher should be able to send it to you in that format, but if they don't, I recommend you download a free program called Caibre. It will convert epubs into Mobi or PDF files. You can also send directly from Calibre, or you can open your email, insert the recipient's Kindle address into the send to field, attach your Mobi file, and hit send. And you're done.

So what if your recipient has a Nook or Kobo?

Unfortunately, neither of those seem to yet have a "send to" feature like the Kindle, but there are workarounds if your recipient is willing. For example, Nook owners can install the Kindle app on their device. Simply follow the directions above once they've installed the app.

Kobo owners can acquire the epub files using the app Grab My Books.





I know. You're probably thinking this sounds really complicated and way too hard and why can't you just write books and leave this stuff to the Promo Fairies. I hate to break it to you, but YOU are the Promo Fairies.

Trust me. It's easier than it sounds, and once you do it a couple of times, it'll be a piece of cake.

So there's a lot of information. Questions? Need clarification? Hit me up in the comments below.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Setting goals for the new year

First of all, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and is entering the new year with many blessings.

I wanted to do a post before the end of the year thanking everyone who has purchased a copy of any of my books. I do donate part of my author royalties to my local animal shelter, and I wanted to give an update on that, since I know I've been amiss in doing so and some of you might be wondering if I've kept true to my promise. I don't have an exact figure because I suck at accounting and bookkeeping and all the financial things, but after attempting to come up with a figure this past weekend, I estimate I have donated approximately $800 to Greenville County Animal Care so far. That includes all of the pet food, pet supplies and other donations including money I've used to sponsor animals on the euthanasia list. A huge thank you also to my couponing, sales savvy best friend who helped me gather twice the donations I would have done otherwise, and for being my delivery person in getting them to the shelter more often than not. And, from the bottom of my heart, thank YOU for taking a chance on my books. I know there are a lot of great reads to choose from, but I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to use what I love to give back to a cause I believe in. I like to think that together we've saved a few lives this year. Let's help save some more in 2015, okay?

*High fives!!* 


Looking ahead ...

I really try not to do resolutions because I think they're a bunch of rubbish, but since I've been struggling to stay motivated lately, I thought, "Eh. Why not?" But rather than making resolutions I know myself well enough to know I'll never keep — lose weight (bahahahaha), get in shape (BAHAHAHAHA), etc. — I'm keeping these resolutions strictly geared to my writing. And I'm only making two of them, so that should be easy to keep, right? Gulp.

No. 1 – Marketing Mondays for Writers

I suck at book promotion. Really, I do. But so do most writers, I think. So I thought I'd start a feature here on my blog where, each Monday, I share some promotion tips I've learned that kind of, sort of do work for me, and I might invite some of my more successful author friends to share advice, too. Why? Because I've lost track of how many times on forums, in writer's groups, and in chats I've seen new writers (and even experienced ones) ask for help because they are completely clueless about selling their books. And I'm all about paying it forward and even though I suspect I know as much about book marketing as my cat Dusti, maybe I know more than that poor lady bawling over her keyboard in Fill in the Generic Location because she doesn't even know where to start. And the fact that my post for new writers is one of the highest-trafficked posts on my blog EVER, I think there's a need for it. We'll see.

No. 2 – Finish Connor's book

This one is to keep me in gear, guys. I'm still working on the fourth book in my psychic detectives series, but I'm also working on another project now that could be brilliant or a complete disaster. My lovely editor had asked me a while back to consider writing a novella from the points of view of Abbott and Costello and Charlie. I made no promises, but the idea intrigued me enough that I've decided to give it a try and see what happens. Fingers crossed.

That's it! Pretty simple, huh?

Again, I want to thank anyone who has taken the time to read this, buy any of my books, or write a review for any of my stories. I hope each and every one of you has a great New Year's Eve!

Mwah!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fun Friday Q&A with author Debbie Johnson!

Debbie Johnson
I love Christmas, and I love reading books with a Christmas theme this time of year. I mean, who doesn't, right? I'm super excited to have author Debbie Johnson on my blog today to discuss her new book, "Cold Feet at Christmas," which is not only now available from Harper Impulse but doing very well in the ranking on Amazon UK (we're talking No. 1 in romantic comedy right now, folks)! Go, Debbie!

Angela: Thanks for stopping by today, Debbie. Tell us about your new book.

Debbie: It starts with a very unromantic situation – our heroine, Leah, running away from her Christmas Eve wedding in Scotland, after finding her fiance playing ‘hide the sausage’ with her bridesmaid! Understandably taken aback by the situation, she drives off into the wilderness in the middle of a blizzard – ending up stranded in the middle of a very snowy nowhere! After staggering across a frozen field in nothing but her wedding dress and her Jimmy Choos, she spies an isolated stone cottage – inhabited by a man so divinely handsome she thinks she’s died of hypothermia and gone to heaven…

Angela: Why should readers pick up a copy?

Debbie: It’s pure escapism – funny, sweet, romantic, and moving, with lashings of super-hot sex! Plus, you know, Christmassy!

Angela: Sounds awesome. Where did you get the inspiration for this story?

Debbie: Walking the dog in a snowstorm, and realising how it obliterated the rest of my reality – I could have been anyone, anywhere. And then I added in the ‘what ifs…’

Angela: Let’s get to know you a little better: What’s your dream vacation destination?

Debbie: If I was with my kids, then Florida. If I was with a fellow grown-up, New York!

Angela: What book do you most recommend to others?

Debbie: This is impossible to answer! I love crime fiction, and always tell people to read James Lee Burke and John Connolly. But for romance, if I had to pick one, it’d be Nora Roberts and J.D Robb – and a they’re the same person, I get two for the price of one!

Angela: If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?

Debbie: Flying. I know it’s not that practical, or the most profitable, but I would just love to experience it. But ideally without an Iron Man suit or jet pack! I’d actually like retractable wings!

Angela: Thank you for stopping by, Debbie! Learn more about her and her books by visiting www.debbiejohnsonauthor.com. Better yet, buy "Cold Feet at Christmas" after reading the synopsis:

Running out on your wedding shouldn’t be this much fun! 
A remote Scottish castle on a snowy Christmas Eve. A handsome husband-to-be. A dress to die for. It should have been the happiest day of Leah Harvey’s life – but the fairytale wedding turns sour when she finds her fiancĂ© halfway up the bridesmaid’s skirt just hours before the ceremony! 
Fleeing the scene in a blizzard, Leah ends up stranded at the nearest cottage, where she collapses into the arms of its inhabitant – a man so handsome she thinks she must have died and gone to heaven! 
And when Rob Cavelli suddenly finds himself with an armful of soaking wet, freezing cold, and absolutely gorgeous bride on the run, he’s more than happy to welcome her into his snowbound cottage this Christmas…

Monday, November 24, 2014

Back to writing that 'hunky demon slayer/ghost talker dude'

I had to take a hiatus from writing this summer — that extended into fall — for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons were because I was so exhausted, too dang busy at the day job, and (hangs head in shame) I had lost my writing mojo.

It happens occasionally to the best of us. The idea of picking up where I’d left off on my next manuscript — or any new story — struck me with a combination of writer’s block and dread, which was a sure sign I needed to take a break.

It’s interesting what can trigger creativity again. In this case, it started with a conversation with my father about my books. I showed him a copy of “On the Scent,” which is available in paperback in the UK (and which my wonderful editor Charlotte sent me a copy of), and my you-need-to-get-your-head-out-of-the-clouds-and-pursue-a-real-career 82-year-old dad actually looked impressed. For the first time, he revealed something to me that actually put a lot into perspective. My retired police office father, the man who has always been practical and encouraged me to be practical and get my head out of the clouds, was a dreamer in his youth. As a young man, he pursued songwriting and even had aspirations of being an author himself.

“I always wanted to write a Western novel,” he told me. “But to print it, they said I had to pay them money. There was no way I could afford it.”

A little younger than I see him, but meet Connor.
Well, now I know where I get it from, at least.

I’ve also been using my writing hiatus to do more reading (or listening, considering my reading these days comes courtesy of audiobooks) and movie watching, mostly thanks to Netflix. Nothing makes me want to write more than experiencing a good story, and I’ve been lucky to have found some good ones in both book and movie form lately.

For the past few weeks, I’ve actually been itching to get back to my unfinished manuscript. For anyone who has read my psychic detectives series, yes, this is Connor’s book. Almost every review “Spirited Away” has received has mentioned the “hunky demon slayer/ghost talker dude” who those readers are anxious to learn more about. Talk about pressure.

This past weekend, I made time to sit down and enter his world again. Connor is one of my favorite characters to write, and it feels good to be giving him his own story. I have no idea if readers will like that story; the book also isn't contracted, so I have no idea if my editor will want to publish the story, but I hope to finish it by the end of January. Sorry — I have too much overtime at the day job to bump that deadline up.

In the meantime, I sure am having fun Googling images of hot, young men to match the image of Connor that's in my head. So far, these are my favorites! Slap some tats on the guy, and he pretty much nails it.

Readers: What about you? How would you describe Connor based on the glimpses you've had of him in "Something Wicked" and "Spirited Away"? Pictures in the comments are more than welcome! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fun Friday Q&A with author Eve Devon!

Eve Devon
I'm thrilled to have fellow HarperImpulse author Eve Devon here to chat with me today, especially after learning we share the same superpower (read her answer below). Eve writes about sexy heroes, sassy heroines and happy ever afters and says "I kind of secretly believe it’s not too late for me to train as a professional dancer, MMA expert, or get asked to be Angelina Jolie’s body-double. I know. This is why writing fiction is for me!" Doesn't she sound awesome? Her latest release is "The Love List," which you can and should go buy right now because.

Without further ado, let's get this chat started.

Angela: Welcome to my blog, Eve! Tell us about your new book.

Eve: The Love List features Nora King, a woman who eats, sleeps and breathes the family business KPC. After the death of her father it’s easy to convince herself that work will see her through, and so she allows it to stand very firmly and safely between her and her grief.

Enter sexy laid-back disaster relief worker Ethan Love. He’s in town to ask her a special favour but soon his charm and perception is crashing through her barriers, dragging her out of her self-imposed state of suspended animation, and making her want to put him on her To Do list!

You can read The Love List as a standalone or straight after Her Best Laid Plans which is about Nora’s big brother Jared King and his plan-phobic PA Amanda Gray.

Angela: Why should readers pick up a copy?

Eve: If you love your romance contemporary, sexy, and packed with emotional punch, then The Love List is definitely for you. Oh, and then there’s the whole “shoe love” thing!

Angela: Where did you get the inspiration for this story?

Eve: When Jared King, the hero from Her Best Laid Plans, finally admitted to me that he’d walked away from his birthright at twenty-one, I realised his actions had to have impacted on his two younger sisters, Nora and Sephy, too. I’m very happy to have had the chance to write about that fallout and also see them both get their own HEA.

I love writing about family dynamics as it’s something we can all relate to. With Jared, Nora, and Sephy, I was inspired by how a life-changing decision made by the eldest ‘responsible’ child then alters the stereotypical role of the middle ‘peacemaker’ child Nora and the youngest ‘rebel’ child Sephy.

Angela: Let’s get to know you a little better: What’s your dream vacation destination?

Eve: Ooh, well I guess I’ll always have a soft spot for Tobago but I’m also sure there are many places I haven’t even heard about that would be the perfect vacay destination. For me I guess it’s not so much a specific place as a feeling. If I can get off a plane, or a boat, or a train, or out of a car—lift my face to the sky and no matter the climate or weather, feel relaxed, excited and ready to explore all in one breath…that’s the place for me.

Angela: What book do you most recommend to others?

Eve: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Buy it, read it and you will see. That is all :)

Angela: If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?

Eve: I’ve actually been given a super-power already. Uh-huh. It’s the power to walk into doors—I literally can’t pass through one naturally. I have to either pull it open when I should push, or get it open and then bounce off the frame, or get my clothes caught up on the handle. As yet I haven’t worked out how to use this super-power of mine for good but I’m thinking my costume should come with elbow pads for protection.

If I actually got to choose my own super-power I guess I’d go with invisibility. What a fab way of hiding those bad hair days. I think I’d go around flicking the ears of every person I saw dropping litter until they picked it up. Also, I’d be able to attend those fly-on-the-wall conversations everyone wishes they could be in on, and no one would see me struggling to come to terms with my other super-power (you know, the door thing!).

Angela: Thank you so much, Eve, for dropping by today. The rest of you can learn more about Eve at her website www.EveDevon.com. And don't forget to pick up The Love List today. Still need convincing? Read the synopsis. Then go buy it here:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | GOOGLE PLAY | iBOOKS KOBO

Falling in love is just not on Nora King’s To Do List…

Neither is accidentally super-gluing her shoe to her hand right before the biggest presentation of her life! With all the hard work she’d put into securing the family business after her father’s death, Nora has no choice but to accept help from a knight in shining armour.

Disaster relief worker Ethan Love is still haunted by his last deployment, and desperate for distraction. He’s in town to ask Nora for a major favour, and swooping in to save her presentation is a sure way to get her on side.

As Ethan sticks around and helps Nora through her grief, her barriers tumble down…but will she dare to swap her To Do lists for a How to Fall in Love list?

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