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Monday, August 25, 2014

Fall Into Fantasy Tour #1: The Darkness & Light series by K.L. Schwengel


Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 1: The Darkness & Light Series
Book One: First of Her Kind
Book Two: Emergence
Book Three: Edge of Darkness (Release date 2015)


It seems everyone wants to dictate what Ciara does with her life: Serve the Goddess, destroy the Goddess, do as you promised your aunt -- all Ciara really wants is to keep the two magics she possesses from ripping her apart.

And that's not going to be easy.

Not only is her earth magic in complete opposition to her other power, blood ties pull her in divergent directions as well. And then there's Bolin, the man sworn to protect her. There's no denying the growing attraction between them, but is it Ciara he wants, or her power?

None of which will matter if Ciara can't overcome her fear and learn how to use her gifts. No one knows the depths of the ancient power she possesses, or what will happen if it manages to escape her control. Will she lose herself entirely? Or be forever caught between Darkness and Light?

Buy the e-book: Kindle Nook
Or the paperback: Amazon  Barnes & Noble


The battle for Ciara's power has drawn the full attention of the Emperor and the Imperial Mages, forcing Bolin to put duty above safety and take her to Nisair. It won't be an easy trip, even with an Imperial escort and a Galysian elder accompanying them. Especially since Donovan has found himself some new allies, one of who wields a dark magic that has literally gotten under Bolin's skin.

For Ciara, coming to terms with the increasingly tangible manifestation of her power could destroy her. Even if they make it to Nisair--something that grows more unlikely by the day--there is no surety of safety for Ciara, or any of them. Not with Donovan willing to gamble everything to achieve his goals, or Bolin's uncharacteristically reckless behavior, the result of which is the attention of something that has everyone worried.

Loyalties will be tested, lives will be lost, and no one will emerge unchanged as they find things are not always so clear on the line dividing Darkness and Light.

Buy the e-book: Kindle  Nook
Or the paperback: Amazon  Barnes & Noble



ABOUT K.L. SCHWENGEL

K. L. Schwengel lives in southeast Wisconsin on a small farm with her husband, a handful of Australian Shepherds, Her Royal Highness Princess Fiona the Cat, and assorted livestock. Growing up as the youngest of nine children, and the daughter of a librarian, Kathi spent many hours between stacks of books, and secluded away in dusty archives, drawn to tales of medieval heroes and conquering knights. With so many characters and ideas spinning in her head, she had to get them onto paper or risk what little sanity she possessed. She has been penning wild tales of magic and mayhem as long as she can remember, but opted to follow her artistic muse first. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts and spending many years working as a freelance artist, grocery clerk, art teacher, graphic designer, stable hand, advertising account coordinator, dog trainer, and process technician (among other things) she answered the call of her writing muse. When not writing, Kathi trains and trials working Australian Shepherds, still paints, dabbles in photography, graphic design, and anything else creative her assorted muses send her way.

Connect online at…

Blog  Facebook  Pinterest  Twitter  Amazon Page  Goodreads


Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour?
  • Don't forget to join us at the Facebook party here
  • If you are interested in joining up as a blogger, you can always sign up here. We are happy to welcome more bloggers into the fold as the promotion continues. 
  • If you are an author or blogger and want to sign up to help with the party, please fill out this form.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Introduce Your Main Character Blog-Hop

I was tagged back in June by Sharon Bayliss to introduce my main character, but I don't think I ever did it. I'm catching up on tagged stuff now, and with Heirs of War, Crown of Flames less than two months away from release and starting work on Heirs of War, Chaos to Reign, I think now is a GREAT time to do this one. Zelene really takes center stage in Crown of Flames, so that's who I'll be introducing today.


1. What is the name of your main character? Is he fictional or a historic person?

Zelene is a fictional person, even if my friends and family like to think she is me. ;)

2. When and where is the story set?

This story is set in modern times in different worlds. Zelene is in the capital of Estridia, Anscombe, which is the seat of power for the Duillaine.

3. What should we know about her?

Zelene is stubborn, rebellious, and impulsive. She grew up in a very rough situation, bouncing around from different foster families--some good, some apathetic, and some downright terrible. She never really had control in her life or the ability to truly stand up, and she is really taking those things for herself in this book. Zelene's tired of keeping her head down and staying out of trouble, which leads her to some pretty rash and impulsive decisions. 

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

The main conflict is that Zelene's twin sister, whom she still hasn't met because she was captured in book one before they were all reunited, is on the run from the Cahirans and trying to make her way to Anscombe with Alec's help. Zelene doesn't think that the Duillaine are doing everything they can to rescue Ariana, and she's tired of them using her as a political pawn. So she sets out to do it on her own. What messes her up is trusting the wrong people along the way, learning about a new and disturbing ability she has, and losing heart and faith in herself.

5. What is her personal goal?

Zelene's primary goal is to rescue Ariana before the Cahirans capture her again. 

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

Heirs of War, Crown of Flames, which you can read all about on my website

7. When can we expect the books to be published?

It will be out October 13th and is available for pre-order now!

I'm tagging Katie Hamstead, Lisa Collicutt, and Rachel Horwitz

Monday, August 18, 2014

Marketing Mondays: Blog Tours and Bling for Advertisements

Welcome to the last (for now) Marketing Mondays--that glorious day when we take the overwhelming ideas of marketing and try to make them a little less stressful. In case you missed it, we've already talked about author brandsFacebooksocial mediabloggingonline parties and giveawaysstreet teams, newsletters, and Goodreads, and websites and Amazon author pages. Today, we are wrapping things up with blog tours and advertisements. This involves coughing out some cash, which is a very important topic to discuss.

Blog Tours

We've already discussed hosting blog tours when discussing what kind of content to put on your blog, but now I want to take a really good look at the flip side of that coin--having a blog tour to promote your book. Blogs are a very useful tool for promoting your book, and you can do this a number of ways. You can generate buzz about your book before it releases with things like a Cover Reveal and teasers. After the release, you can schedule a release day blitz or a blog tour, or do both. Coordinating all of the above is pretty much the same, and we'll go over some of the basics. 
  1. Coordinating a Tour
    1. Do it yourself: If you have experience with hosting blog tours already and plenty of blogger friends, you can give coordinating it yourself a shot. After about a year or so of hosting tours myself, I was able to build up enough connections to fill up a month long tour for Heirs of War, so it is doable. I'll get to some tips on how to coordinate your tour on your own later, but for now we'll just list it as an option.
    2. Let someone coordinate the tour for you: One of the benefits to having someone else organize your tour is that it is a heck of a lot less stressful for you. There are plenty of blog tour companies out there with reasonable prices if that is an option for you. Make sure you choose a company that fits your book, though. Some tour companies cover mainly romance or paranormal romance, and if you write mysteries, this tour company might not be the one for you. If you can do this, I say go for it. Prices range anywhere from $45-$175, depending on what you want your tour to include. It might be worth it just to have one less thing to worry about during release week. Because if you are releasing a book, your stress levels are probably already pretty high. 
    3. Image from AndreRealizes
    4. If you have a publisher, their marketing department might coordinate the tour for you. 
  2. Dates
    1. One day release blitz: One day for everyone to showcase your book. Generally done with just a promo post, but you can open it up to other options.
    2. One week or two week blog tour: Usually the more affordable options if you are hiring a tour company, and a way to play it safe if you are coordinating on your own. You can also go with three weeks if you're feeling plucky.
    3. One month blog tour: Usually more expensive if you are hiring a blog company, but this gives you a full month with your book and name spread across blogs. If you are coordinating yourself, it is something to think about for that reason, too. This also opens your dates up, obviously, but that might be more appealing to bloggers. 
  3. Content
    1. Promo post: I've also seen this referred to as a spotlight stop. This usually consists of the basics to promote your book: Banner (if you have one), cover, blurb, purchase links, Goodreads link, your bio, your author pic, your links, and maybe something like a book trailer or short teaser.
    2. Guest post: This is where you take over someone else's blog by sending them an article that you write. For example, I could blog about my marketing experience with Heirs of War for a guest post. Other ideas are music playlists, dream cast, your road to publishing, your inspiration for the book or characters, editing...the list goes on and on. You can plan guest posts ahead of time and dole them out, or you can let hosts pick a topic that might fit their blog.
    3. Excerpts: I was surprised by how many people requested excerpts for my first blog tour. You can give the same one or different ones. I recommend different ones since that allows you to showcase different characters or different aspects of your book. You can tease romance, or action, or humor. And if you have teaser images that accompany the excerpts, you can include them as well. Visuals are always a good thing!
    4. Character interviews: These are so much fun! Sometimes bloggers have questions pre-planned, and sometimes they will do research to tailor the questions to your characters. Either way, getting a chance to explore your characters again is always fun.
    5. Author interview: Oh, the dreaded author interview. I have several of those for my upcoming tour for Heirs of War, Crown of Flames. I both love them and hate them at the same time, mostly because I feel like an idiot with everything I say. But readers love them, so I do it and you should too. 
    6. Open option: This is always a good idea in case bloggers have a weekly feature that might work for you. During the Heirs of War tour, Crystal Collier signed up for me to be featured during her Writerly Wednesdays feature that includes Two Truths and a Lie, which was awesome and a lot of fun. 
Like I said before, you can totally do this on your own!
Image from Congaaaa
Here are some easy steps to coordinating your own tour:
  1. Create a Google form for people to sign up through. Standard form entries: Name, email address, blog url, post type, and date. I also include the option of reviewing an ARC. More reviews never hurt, right?
  2. Email your contacts. If you have blogger friends, author friends, critique partners, street team members, etc--don't be afraid to ask them to help out. 
  3. Post about it on social media. Put the call out their to your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Post a polite request in groups that allow that kind of post (always check the rules for the groups you want to post to!). But, as with everything social media, don't spam. If you aren't getting any responses, check back through your old posts and see if there's a better time where your friends respond more. Then post during that time next week. 
  4. Keep your posting options open to draw in more people. 
  5. Stay on top of emails. I don't know about you, but I have a very bad habit of reading emails or texts and replying in my head, but never actually doing it. That's definitely a habit to break when organizing a blog tour or promotion.
  6. Limit your guest posts. Interviews, excerpts, and promo posts aren't very time consuming, but guest posts can be. I had way too many during my Heirs of War tour, and they sucked up a lot of valuable time. They're great to do and a lot of bloggers request them, but I would limit how many you allow. 
  7. Balance your time as best you can. If you won't have a lot of time to create posts, only run a week long tour, or two weeks. Don't over-commit to something you might not have time for. 
  8. Make sure you stop by each blog and thank them for hosting, and then check back over the next few days to respond to any comments people leave. 

Advertisements

You've probably seen a lot of sites like Facebook and Goodreads offering advertisements. It looks like Twitter is even jumping on this bandwagon now. I've also seen websites and blogs that offer paid advertising slots. Some advertisements, like on a website or blog, might be a one time fee, while others, like Facebook and Goodreads offer daily budgets or pay per click options. Facebook allows you to set a daily budget as well, which can be helpful. You can also set up a target audience by selecting people within a certain age range and with specific interests to target with your ad. Just to give you an idea, I chose fantasy film, fantasy literature, magic (paranormal), witches pagans, fantasy movies, books, and e-books as my interests to target, and my potential reach is 52 million, which looks pretty good from the outside. There are plenty of articles out there to help you create ads and tell you why they are great, but I want to talk about something else that is very important and ties back to blog tours:

When do you spend your money?

Pretty good question, am I right? The thing is, if you are self-publishing, then chances (and hopes) are that you have hired an editor and a cover artist already. That means that you are in the red before your book is even published. You've already invested money into it. And then there's things like swag to giveaway as prizes for contests (which we've also covered) or to hand out at signings or just on the street. 

Point is, you can end up dropping a lot of money really fast. Could you end up making all of that back and then some? Sure. It happens. But you can't let yourself get too carried away. Cut costs where you can so that you can actually enjoy some of the money you make back or use it to invest into your next book so you aren't as in the red when it comes out. 

There's a reason I didn't go into a whole lot of detail with advertisements--I've never done one before. At all. I don't have any plans to do one in the future, not unless I see some major sales with Heirs of War, Crown of Flames. I'm already trying to cut back my swag addiction (I love giving out signed swag packs. Love it. In fact, I want to give one to you now...), so I don't really let myself spend any money beyond the necessities. Advertising is a necessity, of course, but not one I need to pay for right now. 

I'm not saying that you shouldn't purchase a Facebook ad--I'm just saying to keep a tight eye on your budget. I've heard a lot of people say that you should wait until you have more than one book out before you pay for advertisements because your other books help sell each other. And you should definitely be wary of what kind of advertisement you choose, particularly with Facebook. There's been some concern that running an advertisement for Facebook likes will only get you bogus likes, not actual people. And that can hurt your page instead of help it since Facebook algorithms dictate how many people see your posts based on how many people interact with your page. 

So the two key things to take away from this blog post? Balance your budget and time, and do your research before making any decisions that involve money, whether it involves ads or blog tours. 

Thank you for tuning in for Marketing Mondays! Don't be afraid to tell me what you think, or if I've missed anything. This has all been based on my personal experience, and I hope to return to this segment once I get even more experience under my belt. Even if that means contradicting things I've already said. =) 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Release Day Blitz & Giveaway for Keeper vs Reaper by Jennifer Malone Right


Keeper vs. Reaper 
Graveyard Guardians 
Book 1
Jennifer Malone Wright

Genre: New Adult / Paranormal 18+
Publisher: Jennifer Malone Wright
Date of Publication: August 12th 2014
Cover Artist: Regina Wamba of Mae I Design and Photography

Book Description:
When her father died, Lucy Mae Estmond inherited the family business. She has known all of her life that she would be in line to watch over the souls of the recently passed, keeping them safe from the Reapers.

The soul eating Reapers have been a plague upon the Earth, stealing souls and leaving the Keepers as the only thing that stands between Heaven and Hell. The factions despise each other and have warred for generations.

Then Lucy discovers an ancient legend predicting the arrival of the Chosen One, destined to bring forth an end to the Reapers. The surprises continue when she realizes she is that person. For Lucy, being the Chosen One doesn’t change much. Fighting Reapers is just another day in the life of a Keeper. 

When she meets Jack Walker, they both realize they have an insane, mutual attraction. Too bad that he’s been sent to prevent the prophecy from coming true. 

His only mission: to kill the Chosen One.

PreOrder at Apple and BN



About the Author: 

Jennifer Malone Wright is best known for her short story series, The Vampire Hunter's Daughter. Other works include the follow up to The Vampire Hunter's Daughter series called The Arcadia Falls Chronicles and her vampire novel called The Birth of Jaiden. Jennifer also co-authors a series called Once Upon A Zombie Apocalypse.

She resides in the beautiful mountains of northern Idaho with her husband and five children where she practices preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Just kidding!

But seriously, between the craziness of taking care of her children, Jennifer has little time left for herself. The time she does have left, usually leading far into the night, is spent working on her beloved fiction or chatting with her equally crazy friends.

Jennifer also loves coffee, has a passionate affair with red bull, wishes the sushi were better where she lives and dances while she cleans.


Details for the Keeper vs. Reaper pre-order giveaway

  • Entries will be accepted until September 1st. 
  • Winner will be chosen on Sept 5th.
  • To qualify for the B&B stay you must live in the United States.
  • You must be 21 years of age to enter and winner must be able to verify their age. 
  • Date of B&B stay is February 2015. The actual date will set by Jack and Lucy who will discuss it with the winner to see which days would be best for them. 
  • The custom wine and chocolate will be waiting for the lucky winner at the B&B
  • The only items covered in this win are the cost of ONE night stay in the bed & breakfast, the wine and the chocolate, which will be waiting for the winner at the B&B when they arrive. Winner is responsible for getting to the location, spending money, meals, ect.
  • Winner is responsible for any damages or incurred costs during their stay at the B&B.
How to Enter
To make this super easy, we are just going to do a rafflecopter, so click the link to enter. Again, I am going to state that you must be 21 years of age to enter and winner must be able to verify their age. 

There are several ways to enter, however one is to pre order or purchase (after release on Aug 12th) Keeper vs. Reaper. Unfortunately, there is no pre-order for Amazon, but the iTunes / iBooks app and the Nook app are free to download. These apps can be used on devices like tablets, phones, and computers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TEASER:
“Yeah, I get that.” He took a swig of his beer and cringed. “Ugh. Can I get a shot of Jameson with this too?”
“I thought you tried to stay away from the hard stuff.” Her dark eyes penetrated him, looking for a reason that he would want to be drinking the hard A.
“Not tonight I don’t.”
“Fine. But, because I’m your friend I’m only allowing you one shot then it’s back to the hangover beer for you.”
Friend. What a fucked up word. The F word for sure.
He gave her a twisted smile as she handed him the shot of amber colored liquid. “I don’t have any friends. Not anymore.”
She shot him a concerned look and put the Jameson bottle back on the shelf. “You do now. I think we hit it off as far as friends go. See, I’m going to help you out right now, just like a dude would. There’s Janette.”
“Who?”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
Jack raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders, then tilted his head back and slammed his shot.
Reese had her hands on her hips. “Janette. The girl you took home the other night.” She explained.
“Oh! You mean Janice.” He turned around to see who she was talking about.
“No, I mean Janette. That is her name, asshole.”
“Oh shit, really?”
Reese shook her head and laughed. “You may be good looking, but you are the poster child for guys women shouldn’t date. I have no idea why I like you at all.”
With a smile, Jack turned around and wiggled his eyebrows, “maybe we should take that to the next level.” He was totally joking and she knew it. The two of them seemed to have a mutual no touchy code.
“Not a chance in hell, Casanova.”

Jack laughed and then once again looked over his shoulder at Janette. Now, that was exactly what he needed right now. Nothing calms the nerves after an attempted murder and a fight with your friend like a good night of fucking out the frustration. He grabbed his beer and got up off the stool.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Marketing Mondays: What's in a Website & Why Amazon Author Pages are Important

Image from arthurpendragonns
Goodbye, weekend! Hello, Marketing Mondays! That glorious day when we take the overwhelming ideas of marketing and try to make them a little less stressful. In case you missed it, we've already talked about author brandsFacebooksocial mediabloggingonline parties and giveaways, and street teams, newsletters, and Goodreads. As promised, today we are going to talk about websites and Amazon pages, and why they are important.

Websites are probably the easiest part of marketing, in my experience. With all of the Weebly-wobbly type designers out there, it is really easy to make your website as low maintenance or fancy as you want it to be. Heck, even Blogger is making it easier to turn your blog itself into a website by offering the option to create different pages beyond that of your blog. You don't have to know a lick of HTML to be able to get a website up and running. In fact, my subscription level for my website doesn't even allow me to access the base HTML or CSS codes (which is good, since I'm a novice with HTML and haven't the faintest clue about CSS).

Why you should have a website is probably a given: You need one place to keep all of your information, and Facebook doesn't count. Having a website, in my opinion, gives you a more professional appearance to those who might Google you. It's a way of letting everyone know that writing is your profession, not your hobby. But if you are here, you already know that. So instead, let's focus on the design and content you should include in your website.

Let's look at a few of the different kinds of websites to give you an idea of how you might want to design yours:

The Blog-Focused Site
Blogs are an excellent way of keeping your readers up to date with news and giving them more insight into you. It's a very personal approach, but you control how personal you get. Sharon Bayliss's website has her blog on the home page, and a column on the right to showcase her books and social media. It's really well balanced, which is very important for a website. You don't want it to look too busy, or the readers' eyes will be drawn to too many places. And she also has tabs for all of the other information you might be looking for on her--even one to take her quiz to see what kind of witch or wizard you would be in the world of The December People series. Vicki Keire has another great example of a blog-centric site powered by a Blogger template. The great thing about this design is that since you are going through Blogger, it is easy to maintain. No fancy HTML or CSS skills necessary. James Wymore does the same thing with Wordpress, but I'm less familiar with Wordpress than I probably should be at this point.

The Book-Focused Site
People are stopping by to get information about your books, right? So if you want to put that information front and center on your home page, it makes perfect sense. Eliza Tilton's site does a really good job doing this and looking sleek and professional. She has a great tagline in her header, and then directly shows the covers of her books. She still has a blog, which is in the main menu and easy to access. Terry Goodkind's website does this as well, usually featuring his next release (in this case, Severed Souls, which I am equal parts dreading and excited about reading). I'm not a big fan of the tiny Home button that takes you to his actual site and shows you everything else you want to see, but hey--he's making millions, so he can do whatever he wants. And he also looks intimidating as hell, so that might help. ;)

The News-Focused Site
Why not get straight to business and put your news on your front page? That's what I do on my site, which can be cool since you can tie it in with your newsletter (which we already talked about as a "must") and just copy everything over from it. If you run behind on updating your website, then your Home page with all the news can become pretty lengthy. Richelle Mead also has a news-centric site, and hers looks much slicker. She has a brief intro and then launches into what is going on, however much or little there might be (she did just give birth if I'm remembering right, so I think we can all understand a lack of appearances and such). With both of these designs, you can still have easy access to your books and create a personalized style.

The Sleek and Simple Site
Personally, I'm a big fan of this style, even though my website doesn't follow it. You are brought to a home page that has the very bare minimum, and then have a menu that takes you directly where you need to go--books, blog, about me, etc. A good example of this is Krystal Wade's website, which is very crisp and elegant, and her menu covers everything needed. The picture also makes you feel like you are being transported somewhere magical, and as an avid fantasy reader, this is something I am definitely drawn to. The only drawback to this is that it can create a very detached website, and as authors, I think giving it a personal touch is definitely the way to go since our goal is to connect with our readers. Krystal manages to avoid this drawback by having personalized messages or writing in first person, so she is directly addressing the reader.

There are other site styles, of course, but these are the most popular that I've seen. All of the above are easy to create and maintain, which is definitely a perk. If you have to dedicate the whole entire day to updating your website, you probably need to rethink how you are doing it. I'm guilty of spending a whole day redesigning mine (and probably about to do that again soon), but updating should only take an hour or so, depending on the amount of information you are updating.
Images from spaceshipmadeofwood

CONTENT IS KEY
Once you've decided how to design your website, you need to decide what to include. Here are my Do's and Don'ts from my experience with my site:

  • Home Page: Pretty much a given, and we've already discussed the different ways you can design it. Whether you have your blog on the front page or just a menu, the biggest thing to keep in mind is to make it easy to read. Personally, I feel like mine has a bit too much text going on. Too much text makes a home page feel crowded, but with the most boring types of company you can imagine. At least for me, anyway. You want your website to be personal but still show that you take your career seriously. A sleek website does just that. As a reader, this gives me more confidence in the writer. I know I'm not about to spend my money on a rough draft, but something that the writer has put time and effort into. Here are some other things you might want to include on your home page--just make sure you don't overcrowd:
    • Your books: You can do this with a simple Goodreads widget or just put the covers there on your own and make them clickable to the pages on your site or the Amazon pages. The Goodreads widget works, but I'm not a big fan of the layout options, personally.
    • Social media: You can have buttons to link to your social media, or you can include social media feeds from sites like Twitter and Facebook to show your recent activities. 
    • Newsletter or blog subscription: Make it easy for people to get email updates from you with a subscription option. MailChimp offers this widget for newsletters, and both Blogger and Wordpress offer it for blogs as well.
    • Blog activities: This is especially easy with a blog-centric website, where you have the options of including keywords, recent activities, etc. 
  • About Me: Don't neglect the bio, and don't make visitors have to dig for it. It doesn't have to be your life story. It can be as long or as short as you want it to be. After all, this is your website, so it should be tailored to you. I have one paragraph on my home page, but I'd really suggest having an About Me section, which I'm going to change to once I upgrade to get more pages. Your bio can be third person or first person. I've seen a lot of authors address readers directly, which I'm a big fan of. My bio is third person, but that's because everything I wrote first person sounded ridiculous in my head. Jessa Russo wrote hers in first person and isn't shy about getting personal with you, which really creates a connection with the readers. You get an absolute feel for who she is, which left me wanting to read her books even more. You don't have to leave your about me to just the bio, though. Here are some other ideas of what to include:
    • News: If you don't have this on your front page, you can include it here. I used to have a News Archive on my About Me page, but I felt like it cluttered it too much, and like it was pointless. My blog has old news, and I don't update every week with new news and get rid of the old. But if you want an archive, I've seen it done well before. As long as you keep the "No Clutter" rule in mind with a website, you're fine with pretty much anything, I think. 
    • Upcoming Appearances: This is one you might want to create a different page for, but also a good place if you don't. Whether you're hosting a Facebook party or doing a signing in person, your readers will want to know how they can connect with you!
    • Past Interviews and Guest Blogs: If you have done a blog tour, then you have most likely done a guest post or an interview. Since this website is all about you, don't be shy about putting those links out there. 
    • Social media: If you don't want to include your social media feeds on your front page, this is a good place to put them. The reason to have them at all is to give readers easy access to that sort of thing, and to maybe get them to follow you by seeing the clever things you post on Twitter. Especially if you are Anna Kendrick and always say clever things on Twitter
      Image from tyandcrystalhelp
  • Books: This one is a given, but you do have some options as to how you do this. You can have individual pages for each of your books, individual pages for each of your series, or just one page where all of your books are showcased with clickable covers that take you to more information about the book itself. All of the author websites we've looked at so far have great examples of these options. Here are some other book related items you might include:
    • Reviews: If your book has even three glowing reviews, don't be afraid to showcase them. I have a whole section for reviews and use the Goodreads widget to show them off. I also pull quotes from reviews from other sites like Amazon, review blogs, or Barnes & Noble. 
    • Purchase links: Definitely a must. Make it easy for people to buy your book after you tell them why they want to, right?
    • Goodreads link: Even if you aren't a fan of Goodreads or have never gone to the site, keep in mind that plenty of other people use it. 
    • Pinterest boards: If you use Pinterest for inspiration, casting, or to get to know your characters better, let your readers see it too. Pinterest makes it easy to include a widget on your site, and it is as simple as copying and pasting the HTML code. 
    • Music playlists: Whether you use YouTube or Spotify, if you have a music playlist that goes along with your series, show it to your readers.
    • Book Trailers: You definitely want to include a book trailer if you have it. I have one for my Heirs of War series, and it is at the top of the series page. 
    • Teaser images: Lots of authors create teaser images for upcoming releases to generate buzz. The book page is a great place to showcase these in an album or slideshow. I wouldn't recommend just pasting them everywhere on the page, because then it will get cluttered, but lots of design sites make it easy to create albums and use slideshows for that kind of thing.
    • Definitions: If you have a fantasy series like me, it might be a good idea to use the series page or book page to define some of the things from your world. I create image cards for that kind of thing that I sometimes use on my site. 
    • Character interviews: Another thing you might do for a blog tour is interview your characters or let someone else do it. It's lots of fun and lets the readers get more insight into their favorite characters, so it's a good idea to include links to content like that.
    • Contests: If you have contests or giveaways for a particular book, make sure you include them on the relevant pages, even if you have them somewhere else. It's repetitive, sure, but also makes it easier for people to find them.
  • Other Ideas: If you have extra content like quizzes or poetry, or even another hobby like music videos or art, you can definitely include a page for that. Reviews, services, awards, blog hops, travel blogs--the possibilities are endless. The key to having a website is to have all of your information in one place so that it is convenient for readers to find and then connect with you. If you keep busy, it might be a good idea for you to have a separate Events page to make it easy to find appearances. 

Amazon: Author Pages and Rankings

If you sell on Amazon, and you probably do since they have evolved into quite the giant in the book world, then you have access to Amazon Author Central, where you can do cool things like link social media, put in a profile, and even track sales. An even cooler thing that never occurred to me until recently is that you can also get likes for that page. I never even noticed the option because I don't pay attention to how many likes an author has on Amazon. But from what I am hearing, Amazon does. Amazon usually stays pretty mum about their numbers and formulas for rankings, but apparently the number of likes an author gets somehow ties in. There used to be an option to like individual books as well, but they got rid of that. Either that, or I'm blind and can't find it.

Either way, the Amazon author page is a convenient way to have all the relevant information a reader might look for from you in one place: Social media, bio, website, blog, other books, book trailers, etc. There's even a place for customers to start a discussion about you.

So how do you get ranked and what does it mean? Rankings are a reflection of how well your book is doing, which is a direct reflection of sales. I haven't been able to find an actual formula that Amazon uses, but people do have theories about how to get ranked. One tip: Don't visit your book page or have others visit it unless they are buying the book. If you want to get a look at your sales rank, use Amazon Author Central. Apparently, rumor has it that if your book has too many visits without correlating sales, it will lower your Amazon ranking. And a higher ranking is supposed to mean more visibility. I can say that since I stopped checking my page for rank or anything else (I used to use it for easily grabbing the blurb or copying the actual link to sell it--now I use my website for that), my rankings have gone up.


Once I started seeing my book on lists like Coming of Age, I started to see more steady sales as well. Since this is a self published title with a handful of reviews, that doesn't mean I'm raking in the dough. But still. I've seen an improvement.

Which brings me to another thing that possibly/probably has an impact on your ranking: Reviews. One of the worst things an author can hear from you is that you loved their book but never reviewed it. But one of the worst things you can do as an author is beg for reviews or bitch when you don't get them. I've given away over 100 free copies of Heirs of War since I published it a year ago and do you know how many reviews I have total? I have 10 on Amazon, 12 on Goodreads, 1 on Barnes & Noble, and 1 on Smashwords.

And yes, you read that right. I've given away over 100 copies of Heirs of War.
Image from runwithrockets
But seeing as how it is the first book in my series priced at 99 cents and there's an older version of it available for free on Wattpad, it really isn't hitting me hard.

I digress. So beyond selling books, you can up your Amazon rankings and get more visibility on Amazon by getting likes on your Amazon page, good keywords to accompany your books so that it can be put on lists (Amazon has a nice breakdown here), reviews, not visiting your page to check rankings constantly or any other reason, and by getting people to buy your book along with another. People who bought my book also bought books from Sharon Bayliss, so her books come up when you visit my book's page under the customer suggestions. Similarly, Shattered Secrets by Krystal Wade shows up as a suggestion when you look at Destruction's page. So if enough people buy the same book, like a best seller, and yours, then it gives you more visibility.

But what can you do about any of this, beyond staying off your book's Amazon page or encouraging others to visit it if they aren't going to buy your book?

  • One thing you can do is try to time any sales you might have with new releases that are similar to your book. No guarantees, but worth a shot and telling readers that if they are a fan of the new book coming out, they can enjoy yours too for a special price is a bit enticing. Worth a shot. 
  • Encourage readers to visit your Amazon author page and give it a like, then share it on social media. Like I said, I haven't found any actual data to back up the claim that more likes gets you a higher ranking, but if Amazon is tracking it, then it is worth doing. I've seen a lot of authors at Facebook parties recently having party goers like their Amazon page and give the number in order to enter a contest. This got me up to 15 likes from the pitiful one I had before (though number one was awesome for doing it on her own!). 
  • Encourage readers to post reviews, but never bargain with them to get it done. Offering prizes or other incentives is a good way to get that review deleted. Amazon can be pretty annoying with deleting reviews. I haven't had it happen, personally, but I've seen other authors have theirs deleted because they happened to also give a gift card to that reviewer from their same account, even if the timing didn't match up as a bribe sort of thing. Amazon doesn't want you paying for reviews, so just keep that in mind with whatever you do. 
Above all, keep in mind that your ranking on Amazon isn't the end of the world, and isn't something you need to work on every day. I've never broken the top 100 on the overall sales list, and I'm okay. This is a long road we tread, and expecting immediate results is only bound to get you disappointment. Patience, young grasshoppers. 

We only have one more week of Marketing Mondays left. Next week we will wrap things up with blog tours and advertisements. Think there is something I've missed? Let me know! Mondays always come back to haunt us, which means Marketing Mondays can always return with more to discuss and different ways to drive your book sales!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Introducing the Fall Into Fantasy Tour!


It's August, and that means Fall is upon us! To celebrate the cooler weather and keep your mind off any back to school blues, we've put together the Fall Into Fantasy Tour. This tour celebrates the wonderful fantasy books that you can dive into--right now!

But what's a tour unless we are giving away free stuff? That's right! Each week, we will be giving away some awesome prizes from the author being featured. And to wrap things up at the end of the promotion in December, we're going to have a huge Facebook party all weekend long featuring these authors and more!

Want to get an idea of what is ahead? Check out the calendar below!

August 25th: The Darkness & Light series by K.L. Schwengel
  


September 1st: How to Date Dead Guys by Ann M. Noser



September 8th: The Undead: Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore 




September 15th: The Enchanted Bookstore Legends by Marsha A. Moore
  


September 22nd: The Curse Merchant by JP Sloan
 


September 29th: The Ragnarok Prophecies by Ayden K. Morgan
   


October 6th: The Daath Chronicles by Eliza Tilton
 


October 13th: Me! The Heirs of War series by Mara Valderran
 



October 20th: Salvation by James Wymore




October 27th: Strings by G. Miki Hayden

 



November 3rd: The Shadow Series by Anna Hub
 


November 10th: Between by Lisa Swallow



November 17th: Darkness Watching by Emma Adams

 


November 24th: Bound by Kate Sparkes
 


December 1st: The December People series by Sharon Bayliss
 


December 8th: The Disciple series by L. Blankenship



December 15th: Evensong by Krista Walsh
 


Don't forget to join us at the Facebook party here! And be sure to check out these awesome blogs that will be hosting the tour for us:


Bilbo's Book Ends
Katie's Stories
Book Crazy Gals
CoffeyAndBooks
Read Me
Kelly P's Blog
SW Fairbrother

Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour? 

  • If you are interested in joining up as a blogger, you can always sign up here. We are happy to welcome more bloggers into the fold. 
  • If you are an author or blogger and want to sign up to help with the party, please fill out this form.
  • If you are an author that wanted to take part, be sure to add me on Twitter or Facebook to hear about the next promotion I plan! This won't be the last. :)