Friday, December 29, 2017

Getting the Word Out

Is there anything new in book promotion? What works for you lately?

It seems like so many different things are hyped as the one definite way for people to learn about a new book. Some of those are actually old, but have cycled around to become the hot new thing.

Book trailer videos - good if you have the skill, but if you don't... well... I looked at a few when the fad first started and knew right away I didn't have the skill level for any of it - art, audio, pacing.. What has been your opinion on this?

Reviews
When my first book came out, reviews were what you had to focus on. At that time there were numerous book review sites, all looking for new books to review. Some of them are still out there, but finding them has become difficult. And if you can't find the sites, how many readers are actually following them? My old publisher and my new publisher were good at sending books out to their lists of reviewers, but they also want their authors to get reviews.

Places like Amazon and GoodReads are fussy about what reviews they accept. (are you friends with the author, did you buy the book from Amazon...)

Book Announcements
When I consider myself how I find out about new books, I realize how much I'm probably missing. I follow Shelf Awareness, though actually it turns up in my email, because I supported an independent bookstore which has since closed. Looking at their submission guidelines, they don't want ebooks or those without national distribution, so that limits them.

For science fiction books I check Locus. They have several review sections, but also a big section on "Books Received", which I actually pay more attention to than their reviews. I've had my books appear in the "Books Received" section as it's easy to send them a copy. I've noticed a slight bump in sales after an announcement there. There's also a remote possibility that a book they receive might be selected for a review.

And, of course, never forget to send a book announcement to your local paper, university newspages, Facebook Author page, or other such sources.

Book Listings
I recommend that authors set up their own author page on Author Central on Amazon. It helps readers find your books from various publishers and gives you an idea of how sales are doing through Amazon. B&N used to have author pages, but I can't find any links to them now.

GoodReads is another important place to have your author profile set up and your books listed. I'm lucky in that some of my publishers make sure new books are listed quickly. Unfortunately I also have a few publishers with multi-author publications that forget to have all the authors listed for a book, which makes it a bit difficult to add to the author profile. Make sure to check on your author profile so that any books written by an author with a similar name don't turn up there. There are helpful people at GoodReads who will correct the problem when you alert them (too many Kathryn Sullivans write books).

If you're a YA or children's book author, YA Books Central, is another spot to consider listing your books. They also review books. (And if you write reviews, you can sign up to be a reviewer).

Blogs
I've been told that blogs are dwindling in popularity. I still follow several myself, and you're reading this here, so I guess you do, too. I still hear from authors setting up blog tours or asking for blogs willing to sponsor guest posts.

Jane Friedman recently wrote a very helpful blogging for writers, where she covered content, frequency, whether to have your own blog or share one with other authors (hello, YA Authors You Never Heard Of) and several other topics.

Interviews
Newspapers and radio stations are still good for interviews, but podcasts like Writer Groupie are looking for people with stories to tell.

Contests
I've posted about awards before, but there's been news about a recent scam contest put on by a fake literary magazine. There are still good contests out there, like the EPIC eBook Awards, and an author should check sites like Writer Beware and evaluate before submitting.

Ongoing Promotion
Don't think that promotion is "one time and done". And yet you don't want to be "one of those" authors on Facebook whose constant refrain is "buy my book, buy my book, buy my book". Consider more subtle means of promotion, like swag on freebie tables at conventions, pens or bookmarks you can hand out. I even have a little sticker I put on the back of envelopes I mail. Not sure if any of the companies I pay bills to notice a sticker about my books, but it's there.

Fellow authors are also sometimes willing to give others a boost. John Scalzi often has a Christmas guide where one day is devoted to indie authors to list their books. File770 not only sometimes has announcements about new science fiction and fantasy books, but people posting in the comments (one of the few places where you want to read the comments) also recommend books.

I set up my Facebook Author page awhile back. Some authors set up separate pages for each book, which to me seems overkill. Having an author page separate from my own FB page though, allows me to talk about different things. I also have a Google Plus page, though I don't post there as often. I know other authors have a Tumblr page and Twitter accounts. Which do you feel works better for you?

What other means of getting the word out about your books works for you? What do you notice as a reader?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

TIGER'S TALES

Hi, my name is Tiger and I'm in charge today. My mom turned the blog over to me. So I have a tail, um, a tale for you.

Some of you readers may have already met me.

If you haven't, I'm pleased to have new friends.



One of my favorite things to do is ride on the lawnmower, as long s it's sitting still. It sort of spooks me when the motor is running. It makes so much noise. When my brother, Mom's human son, cuts the engine, I hop aboard. Then Mom takes my picture. She does that a lot. I don't know why.



I also like to sit on top of the van and look at the world. Birds fly by. The wind blows leaves across the grass. A butterfly lights on a flower to eat its dinner. A cottontail rabbit runs across the field. 


But the most fun of all is climbing the giant mesquite and elm trees. From the high branches I can see the whole world.


Then the sun sets, and Mom makes me come inside the house. No fun. I want to chase the night creatures. But she tells me it's bedtime. I sometimes run from her, but she knows how to get my attention. She rattles the sack with treats inside. Oh, yummy. How can a guy resist?



And there is my tale for today.
What about you?
Do you like to mow the grass?
Do you like to climb trees?
Do you like to chase the night creatures?
What is your favorite thing to do?



Sunday, October 22, 2017

Friday Five

1. Had a great time Saturday with other Indie and small press pubbed authors! The librarian did a great job!

I had little swag bags filled with bookmarkers, a 'What Would Audrey Do' buttons, and a Blow Pop( Selena's favorite candy!). The swag bags were a hit. So were the new covers to the Goddesses series!

2. Been reading!


Love this collection of short stories that deal with the theme of teen love triangles.

3.


Think YA meets Talented Mr. Ripley. Twists and turns throughout this novel with a very twisty ending.

4. 

Totally loved this story of a teen who blames himself for the tragic death of his three best friends after he texts them while they are driving. Mostly though this is a story of forgiving, not only what happened, but yourself. Highly recommend!

5.





Satisfying twist on the whole premise of murdered teens getting revenge. Fast-paced ghostly tale of not only revenge, but redemption.


**Guilty Pleasure:

Plan on getting reading for Saturday's OCCRWA Birthday Bash! Love these events! I especially love the PJ parties that are held during the evening. Plus, I love being able to stay overnight at the hotel and work on my writing too. Double win!




http://occrwa.org/chapter-meetings/birthday-bash/

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Con Preparation

After the release of Agents, Adepts, & Apprentices in time for FenCon and Archon the following weekend, I finally had time enough to get organized on the other things I feel I need for conventions: promotion material!

It feels odd to have to mention this, but often it isn't enough to have a book physically available at a convention. Yes, having a cupcake launch party will create interest (and some people did stop down to the Zumaya Publications table in the dealers room afterwards), but often you need to have some means of generating awareness. Just having signs posted around the convention (with pictures of the beautiful cover) before the party had people coming up to me later during the con saying things like "Oh, you're the cupcake lady! Is that the book?" "Sorry I missed the party, where can I check out the book?"

Fortunately, I had already prepared enough ahead of both conventions to have promo pens I could hand out for those times I wasn't at the table. Because I'm still a newbie with my smartphone and get easily frustrated with my fingers not hitting the right keys on the screen (how can people type so quickly on those things?), I decided to have stylus pens, which seemed to be popular. They've got my book title, my name and website on them just in case people decide to check out the book (and if people don't want to, they still have a good black ink pen with a useful stylus).

Unfortunately, I forgot to update my business cards with the new book title. And I didn't have time after approving the book cover to design and order cards for the new release. But I had time enough after Archon to fix that, and my new promo supplies have arrived. I'm trying VistaPrint this time for my paper promos, rather than the company I used in my previous blog post about promotion material. For some reason this year VistaPrint had a better selection of business card designs and an easier setup method for double-sided postcards. The stylus pens are from National Pen, which I've had good luck with over the years.

So now I'm all set for the next month's worth of conventions, library workshops and bookstore events. At some point I should probably add a banner, as a number of my other author friends have done, but that should wait until I see the new covers for the upcoming re-releases from Zumaya Publications. A banner would work for those conventions I drive to, but when I'm flying to a convention the weight limit for suitcases means I'd rather bring books than a banner. Maybe a custom designed tablecloth? Vistaprint immediately showed me what my postcard design would look like on a banner, a tablecloth, and a few other items. They all looked lovely and it was very tempting, but I don't know.

What are your go-to items for promotion? What attracts your attention?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Friday Five

1. I'll be at here on October 14th:

I'll also do a book signing afterwards. I plan on bringing copies of GODDESSES CAN WAIT and a couple of NO MORE GODDESSES. Plus, some swag!

2. Just got the galley of CROSS FIRE!

Need to go over it and write up an acknowledgement and dedication. Can't wait to see the cover of this one!


3. Also working on revisions of CANDLE. Hope to be able to query this out by the end of next month!

4. One sad note: Sunni pulled his one foot and hasn't been walking very well. Took him to the vet and he had an xray. Doctor said the good news is it's not broken or fractured. The not too good news is he's not walking without using his beak to get around. Doctor gave me some inflammatory meds to help with the pain. Please, send some positive, healthy vibes his way.

5. I was beyond excited when Penguin teen sent me DEAR MARTIN:

Link to YA Books Central review: http://www.yabookscentral.com/yafiction/21791-dear-martin

Teaser: There's lots of topics discussed in frank detail; racial profiling, racism, prejudice, and police brutality. This book would be perfect for high school libraries and for classroom discussions. I seriously feel these topics should be discussed and not avoided.

**Added: After the recent controversy this weekend, I found this which also ties in with this book:

https://twitter.com/TheUndefeated/status/911682699819208704/video/1

**Guilty Pleasure:

Omg, have any of you had one of those Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha drinks yet?

They are to die for!

Photo courtesy of Starbucks.com

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Agents, Adepts, and Apprentices

I am excited to announce that Zumaya Thresholds has released my short story collection, Agents, Adepts, & Apprentices. This is an expanded version of the collection previously published by Amber Quill Press, with a few more stories about my interplanetary agents, as well as additional fantasy and science fiction stories (some of which appeared in anthologies by other publishers).

I am especially pleased with the new cover by the wonderful April Martinez. She really captured my wizard Salanoa.

For those new to the collection, there are fantasy stories about wizards, elves, talking horses, and dwarves as well as humans trying to deal with magic. There are also science fiction stories about psi powers, interplanetary agents, aliens attending college on Earth, and aliens attempting to figure out Terran slang. And, as indicated by the title, there are experts, and there are those trying to learn, with mixed results.

Agents, Adepts & Apprentices is currently available through Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, with other formats available soon.

The paper version is planned to appear at FenCon in Dallas. I have a cupcake party (short stories = cupcakes) scheduled to celebrate there. This works out extremely well as Zumaya Publications will be at the convention as well. So I'll be able to hang out with publisher Elizabeth Burton and fellow authors Gloria Oliver and Rie Sheridan Rose.

By that time I should also be calmed down from running around town and showing off the new cover to people (so far the librarians at the local library, the local bookstore owner, people at the post office who hand out my pens, people at my credit union - and one must not forget friends on Facebook). Or do you know authors who don't get excited about new book covers?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Young Adult Award (not a Hugo) Ratified!

Those who have followed this blog over the years know that I’ve been pushing for a YA Award to be a part of the Hugo Awards for a few years. Previous reports about it can be found via the links at the bottom of this post.

During Worldcon 75 this year in Helsinki, Finland, the question of a YA Award came up again at the business meeting. The previous year's YA Award Committee report was to cover its decisions on the following questions:

Will the award be named for a person? Will the award be called ‘YA’, ‘teen lit’, or some other such thing?

Alex Acks reported on the Hugo Awards rules changes at the Business Meeting – nominations, Best Series, and, most importantly, the Young Adult Award.

The committee report given last year at Sasquan had a good breakdown on how various other awards determined what was YA, what was middle grade, and the pros and cons of using marketing categories. The YA Committee decided that the Award should be treated like the Campbell Award (not a Hugo), so that a strict definition of what constitutes YA wouldn't be needed, nor would a word limit (which is what determines several of the categories of the Hugos).

However, the Committee couldn't decide on a name for the award. They created a committee to collect and evaluate name ideas.

The report from the YA Award Study Committee listed the names they collected via several surveys. It went into their naming considerations: should the award be named for a person or an idea, were there other awards already using the proposed name, and several other points. One point that a few people missed at the Business Meeting was that, if a personal name of an author was suggested, the committee also looked at whether the author's other works would somehow reflect negatively on the award. They eventually decided against personal names for the award.

The Committee came up with ten names on their shortlist. Those ten names were run past a group of people knowlegeable in cultural diversity and cross-cultural sensitivity. Those ten names were then put on a Public Shortlist Voting Survey which people could vote on from January 15 through March 15, 2017. They had both a Facebook and a Twittter page from which they promoted the survey, and those of us following the whole award debate also passed on the news about the survey. The final name chosen by the Committee after all that was Lodestar.

I recommend that anyone interested check out the Committee's report. There were quite a few names suggested by people and the Committee did a fantastic job checking and evaluating each one.

The name will be ratified at the 2018 Business Meeting in San Jose. The Business Meeting in Helsinki (after a lot of procedural backs and forths*) voted to ratify the Young Adult Award (Not A Hugo) 65-27. And there was much cheering. The Young Adult Award will be on the Hugo nomination form for the 2018 Hugos. Yayy!

Hopefully the Business Meeting in 2018 in San Jose will ratify the name as the Lodestar Award. Which will work out nicely for the 2019 Worldcon, which will be held in Dublin, Ireland. The Guest of Honor for that Worldcon has already been announced, and the GOH will be Diane Duane! (I highly recommend her YA Young Wizards series)

What do you think of the YA Award (not a Hugo)?

* Seriously, a lot of back and forths. If you really want all the details, Alex Acks detailed it in a liveblog starting at 1116. And running until 1245 (whew).