Thursday, January 31, 2013

Speed Dating Pitch Session

Sitting across the table from an editor and pitching an unpublished manuscript is scary. Sometimes the editor doesn't smile back. Sometimes the agent is a little crabby. Sometimes I realize when the words come out of my mouth that the entire idea is stupid so the 250 pages I've written are probably stupid too.
Some Harlequin Love Inspired editors are doing a big "speed dating" pitch session. Have you ever pitched your book in a chatroom? Here's your opportuity.  I've signed up...and now my mouth is dry, my hands are sweaty and I'm feeling a little woozy. Check it out. You may as well be woozy with me.
 If you're interested, the info is here:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Love A Book * Love An Author

When I was a ten year old book worm and used to kiss the dust jacket pictures of authors as if they were icons, it used to amaze me that these remote people could provoke me to love.
~Erica Jong
 Can you identify? Have you ever kissed the picture of your favorite author, hugged a book to you and wondered in awe . . . just wondered.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tags, Likes and Selling Books

Every where I turn, writers are talking about LIKES and TAGS on Amazon. I have to admit, a few weeks ago I didn’t have a clue what they were all about.
They were just there. I’d click the LIKE  button when I wanted to encourage the author (I figured it couldn’t hurt)—but I’ve never added tags to anyone’s page. I’m still pretty fuzzy about both.

Author Vonnie Davis writes the Honky Tonk Heart series. I met her on The Wild Rose Press Promo loop. She explains TAGS this way:

Tags are shopping tools for readers. Kinda like walking into a massive shoe store. You don't have the time to look at every pair, so you tell the cashier you want a pair of red stilettos with a black bow in a size 8. The cashier brings you 6 pair that meets your list of criteria. Your shopping experience is now streamlined and saves you time. This is what book tags do.

Let's say I want a historical romance with a cowboy who has a dog, because I'm a big dog lover. When I go to Amazon to find a couple book suggestions out of the millions offered, I'll type in "romance, historical, cowboy, dog." Then a list of books with those tags pops up.

What you want to do is list tags—or shopping tools—to help direct readers to your book. Always include your name and the publisher's name, romance, then sub-genre of romance like historical or paranormal or time-travel, and also list anything that readers might be drawn to.

Now, go to your book's listing...where a customer would go to order your e-book.   Scroll down till you see:

You'll find a little box to enter your tags. Click on "save tags." Or move your curser off the box after you've listed them and hit your "t" key twice in rapid succession. Another little box comes up, asking if you agree to the tags. Click your answer and this saves them.

Vonnie made it pretty clear, didn't she?
There’s a group on FaceBook called Amazon Tags Author Assist. They’re a group of writers committed to helping each other by going to the product links of other authors and agreeing  with the tags by clicking on them. Groups like this are forming like crazy!

Do they help?
One post I read on another site suggested that Likes and Tags “keep your book from dying in obscurity.”

Is it true?
The best post I’ve read on this subject is from M. Louisa Locke. Locke gives a very thorough study on how to tag and why you should. She also discusses how self-published authors, by their choice of categories, keywords, and tags, can increase the chances that readers will find their books in an ebook store. She offers strategies: You can’t afford to ignore this post. Locke has an updated post too.

Since becoming a TWRP author, and being privy to their promotional tips, I’ve become frantically aware of what’s ahead of me. It’s frightening how hard authors have to work on promotion.

One thing that has definitely hit home: we’re promoting our books, yes, but we’re promoting ourselves first. Our books and titles will change—we’ll write more and more and more (I hope). Our names should be recognizable.

Lesson learned: We have to FB, tweet, blog, visit other blogs, leave comments and form relationships. We have to be friendly and TALK to people. (Sigh) I’m tired and my novella isn’t even fully edited yet! We have to get our names out there, and the sales will follow—we hope.
One thing  Vonnie Davis suggests is that authors should participate in blog tours and schedule a spot at 4-5 places a week for 2-4 weeks. This generates buzz and yes, this is for each release! People get to hear about our new book AND they'll get to know us better. Sound fun?

It has always been said and I believe it’s true: relationships sell books.  Now go get on all those social sites and make some new friends!

How do you feel about tags, likes, and promotion in general?

Do you have any tips you’d like to share?
For more info on Vonnie Davis, see the Vonnie Davis Website and check out those Vonnie Davis Books.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sweet Rewards for Writers

I’ve had a couple of very nice surprises in the past day or two. First, I ordered a book that was published in 2011 and found this acknowledgement:

“I wish to thank my critique partner extraordinaire, Jessica Ferguson, for all her wonderful suggestions …”

Several years ago through one of my on-line writing groups, another writer and I agreed to do a read-through of each other’s completed manuscripts. Hers was a historical and oh, how I dreaded reading it. I didn't think I could help her at all because historical novels just aren’t my thing. I don’t know why. I used to read them all the time when I was young, and loved them, but these days it takes a special historical to capture my attention.
The author--we didn’t know each other--emailed it to me, I printed it out (yes, sorry, I kill trees) and WOW! It was wonderful.  I couldn’t quit reading. I flipped manuscript pages like crazy. The only real comment I had was regarding the ending. The characters and story were so good that the ending didn’t measure up, left me wanting. No way did Dulcie deserve such an ending! And we know what they say: The first page sells the book and the last page sells the next book. Right?

I want to introduce you to Dulcie Crowder Gets Her Man by Sarah Richmond.
After her father’s death, Dulcie Crowder leaves their El Dorado claim and travels to Hangtown. Her aim is matrimony, and she sets her hat for the handsome deputy, Tom Walker. But he wants a woman he can be proud to walk beside, so Dulcie tries to transform herself into a lady.

Tom has vowed above all else to bring law and order to this hardscrabble gold rush town, and knows Hangtown is no place to get married and start a family. Yet, he takes notice as Dulcie tries to turn his head and win his heart. So do all the other lonely men around.

When Dulcie discovers corruption in the judiciary during the trial of a friend, she naturally turns to Tom for help. The deputy looks for evidence, but Dulcie has other ideas on how to catch the varmint. As she works for justice, will she jeopardize her chances with Tom?

Learn more about author Sarah Richmond and the setting for Dulcie by visiting her website. And if you want to laugh and love a story and characters, GET THIS BOOK! I'm not exaggerating--I STILL have those printed manuscript pages because this love story is a KEEPER!

* * * * *

Now the next great surprise was when I downloaded the first of a new series of instructional articles by Charles A. Gramlich. At the end of this valuable little how-to, I found that Charles printed my review of his book Write with Fire, Thoughts on the Craft of Writing. I find that thrilling! You might check out this series. It provides a detailed examination of one critical aspect of the writing craft, and Fiction Techniques #1 is about Creating Suspense. I gained some valuable info that will, no doubt, improve my romantic suspense writing. And I promise you won't be disappointed. Fiction Techniques #1 is FREE today and tomorrow, so grab it NOW!
I love reading the dedications and acknowledgements in books, and as you can tell, to the very last page. This is one of the nicest gifts you can give a crit partner or fellow writer. At least, I think so.

Thanks Charles and Sarah!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

IWSG: Be a Friend and Love a Writer

Happy New Year. It's time for the monthly post of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. IWSG is the wonderful brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. Its purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of feeling foolish or weak.

I joined this group because I always feel pretty foolish or weak. Especially when I get around a bunch of writers who have more experience than I do. I mentioned in my previous post that I'm totally out of my element now that I've sold a novella, and expected to promote myself and blog with a few other authors. Mandatory blogging! arghhhh! Yes, I understand the concept of promoting our series and each other, but I find it frightening. Today was my first day. Blogging from the POV of a cursed doll--a character in our Oklahoma Romance Writers series called Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll sounds easy; seems fun, but I can't help comparing myself and my writing, my thoughts, to the other more experienced authors. How do we keep from doing that without holing up in a vacuum of sorts and keeping our nose to the computer keys. I'm horrible at looking at other writers, their accomplishments, their advice, and feeling dumb. In fact, I had to back away from some of my online groups because several of the very active members spoke and posted with such authority, their advice and comments so black and white, that I was certain I knew next to nothing. Their confidence, along with their 'my way or the highway' attitude intimidated me.

Several years ago, I decided to work on my insecurities: I became president of my writing group and  got more involved than I could have imagined. I joined a Toastmasters club too. I spoke a few times to other writer's groups and this year was given the ultimate compliment when asked to replace a conference speaker who canceled. I've forced myself to do things that scared me, trying to prove to myself that I CAN stand next to the more successful writers without feeling like a nothing/nobody.

Unfortunately, since moving to Oklahoma, knowing only one person here, it has been easy to fall back on self-doubt and wrap it tightly around me. I catch myself questioning every move I make, second guessing myself--even when I'm alone writing, or about to comment on some one's blog. Or post on my own.

I know how to cure self-doubt and insecurity: By forcing myself to do things that scare me. By getting involved with other writers. By jumping in head first with my own thoughts and opinions. By totally ignoring those who criticize in a non-productive way. By realizing and accepting that I have experiences and opinions too, and they matter! By encouraging others. By giving to others. By writing and living my dream.

Are you continously wrestling with self-doubt and insecurity? How do you deal with it? Any tips for those of us who feel foolish and weak 95% of the time? Thanks for visiting and offering words of encouragement. I believe that's something every writer needs ALL the time.