Marketing and Promoting Your New Book

War Unicorn has been published with Books We Love Publishing, LLC.

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So how do you go about marketing and promoting, especially if you (like me) had surgery immediately after it was published? There are several sit-down ways to start your promoting. Here are a few to consider with your own new release:

  1. Update your website to include cover photo, short synopsis, and links to buy the book.
  2. Tweet it, post the cover on Instagram, shout your hurray on Facebook, or any and every other social media platform on which you are involved.
  3. Consider doing a book launch, a blog tour, and/or a physical book-signing tour. (Requires about thirty times more contacts for every one interested party, as well as much planning.)
  4. Seek reviewers. (Reviews are an author’s golden treasure.)
  5. Start contacting libraries, schools, bookstores, etc. for signings or speaking engagements.
  6. Do giveaways on Amazon and Goodreads (or others) to stir interest in your book.
  7. Enter your book in contests – however, only those which you’ve researched and know are ligit.

And while you’re at it, why don’t you go check out this new and fabulous MG fantasy by S.L. Carlson:

WAR UNICORN Print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1773627201/

WAR UNICORN Ebooks: http://books2read.com/u/3Ro6jp

And if you are so inclined, please leave a golden token (review on Amazon or Goodreads). Happy reading!

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WAR UNICORN, tween fantasy by S.L.Carlson Release Date Today!

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DEAR Readers

My tween fantasy, WAR UNICORN, is now released for publication today by MuseItYoung, available at MuseItUp, Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, and several others. I’ve been answering author interview questions this past week to be posted over the next couple of months with various blogsters. So, I thought I’d do an author self-interview to get the ball rolling.

*I also have three eCopies of my book to randomly be given away to the lucky three picked from those leaving a comment here. Good luck!

Sandy: So, S.L., welcome to my blog. When I think of unicorns, I think of cutesy mythological animals who are calm and lovely. Whatever made you think to make a unicorn into a warrior animal?

S.L.: Good question, Sandy. And, by the way, thanks for interviewing me on your blog today.

Sandy: My pleasure.

S.L.: To your question, that is the whole point behind my story. (Was there a pun there?) I was thinking of various fantasy creatures and thinking what twists I could give them. Then it struck me to give the loveliest of all animals, the unicorn, a very different twist.

Sandy: Hence, War Unicorn.

S.L.: Hence, War Unicorn.

Sandy: I’m aware that you’ve self-published several historical fictions for middle graders — all of which I’ve enjoyed. Tween fantasy is for a different age and a different genre. Are you finding that difficult to separate the two?

S.L.: Actually, no. That is the very reason I chose to use my initials for my fantasy books, to separate the author name with age group and genres. My middle grade historical fictions go by my common name and my tween fantasies go by my initials, S.L. Carlson.

Sandy: Did you intend to let it slip that you have other fantasy books in the works?

S.L.: Ha. So you caught that, did you? Yes. I actually have a middle grade fantasy out already called Star Opening, which was the first full story I wrote decades ago, revised and rewritten many times of course. I’m working on two other tween fantasies, one, the sequel to War Unicorn, and the other a collaboration with my son John.

Sandy: I’m glad to hear there’s going to be a sequel. And a collaboration with your son? That sound interesting.

S.L.: Thank you. The collaboration is indeed interesting, rather like two books in one…or three.

Sandy: I’ll look forward to those. Thanks again for coming onto my blog today. Please let us know when your other interviews come out, and especially when your next tween fantasy is available.

S.L.: You can count on it.

Sandy: Readers, don’t forget to leave a comment below for your chance to win a free copy of War Unicorn by S.L. Carlson. Contest ends September 7 at midnight.

You may purchase your own copy at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MV8VDYG among other places.

Reason #2 for Self Publishing — My First Readers

My second reason for choosing to self publish is my first readers, or I should say, first listeners. About thirty years ago, after reading lots of fantasy to my boys, I decided to read them MY fantasy, STAR OPENING. The loved it, naturally. Sweet little boys.

For the past three decades, every once in a while one of my sons tells me I ought to publish that story. I keep telling him, “I’m trying.” In the past three decades, the fantasy genre has also changed a great deal as well as been swamped. Our family still likes fantasy.

After several revisions, I mailed it (yes, those poor trees) to an agent who ALSO loved it and sent me a contract for the SERIES. I had several other manuscripts written with the same characters, but knew they needed revisions. The original (no copies) one-page contract was on her husband’s business letter-head paper, with only a line on a second page letter-head page with my name typed under it, saying, “sign here.” I decided to take the contract to a lawyer who said it didn’t look like any contract he’d seen before, and could he could write them. I said yes. Within a week I received my manuscript back with a “no longer interested.” I’m guessing I was her first client contact, because I now know the story really needed work, plus she was new back then and has been in the agent business ever since, probably not sending out contracts on her husband’s letterhead.

In the past twenty-five years, that story has undergone tons of changes. I’ve taken classes, attended conferences, read a semi-load worth of books on the craft of writing, followed blogs, listservs, and forums. The story has gone through two critique groups, one group twice, and several beta readers. At each writers conference, although I had written many others over the year, I usually pitched this story — my first love — to the editors and agents. After each conference, I took their advice and rewrote the novel according to their suggestions… with a “no, thanks” about ten months later. I totally cut out one of the main characters — my own conclusion. I changed the names of the characters and title, many times. One editor told me the alien speach sounded too earthly, so I changed it. Rejection. When an editor told me most writers he critiques he needs to tell to cut out the frivolous first chapter or two, but I needed to “ground” my readers before getting right into the action. I added, then deleted, two first chapters. Then two other first chapters, and deleted. I changed from 3rd person to 1st person to alternating POV chapters. About four years ago, a man told me his 10-year-old daughter loved fantasies. She read the manuscript and told me it made her top ten list of best books, booting out LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. (Yet another sweet little kid.)

All this is to say, my #2 reason for self-publishing is for my first reader-listeners, my two wonderfully encouraging sons, and for any other sweet little kids who love fantasy.

STAR OPENING is now available on Amazon and Kindle.

March’s 20,000-Word Challenge

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Now you see! With thirty-one days in the month, and no scheduled holidays off from school or work, THIS makes for a much better writing challege month (v.s. November/ NaNoWriMo when it’s not only one day shorter, but has THREE holidays thrown in the mix, plus the holiday weekends often with family buzzing about).

So… simple dimple writing challenge: Write 20,000 by the month’s end. It does not have to be edited. It could simply be Raw Writing (writing without thinking with the editing coming later).

2011 Writing Goals

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Long ago, I ditched the resolutions bit. Could never keep them; often broken by the end of the first week of the new year. So I started setting goals. Goals are much easier to reach, especially when taken in baby steps, e.g., not a vague “lose weight” or “lose 30 pounds,” but rather, “lose 5 pounds by February 14.” Ah, sounds like a goal I could reach.

So it is with writing. Set goals you can keep, then re-evaluate and reset them in summer.

Like my friend Rose, each year I try to simplify my new year’s writing goals. My general (did you hear “vague?”) writing goals are to read, write and submit. More specific is to revise two novels, send them off, and write two more. At this moment, I have no idea what the two 2011 new novels will be about. Isn’t life exciting?

So what are your new year’s writing goals?

2010 Writing Goals Reviewed

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Each January, I set writing goals before me for the coming year. At the end of December, I look over my goals and reflect on how I have improved and/or moved forward in this bizarre career of writing.

The first goal I listed in January of 2010 was to find work at MacDonald’s, or else to quit writing entirely. I’m very happy to announce that I did neither of those things, although working at a fast food for research purposes had crossed my mind several times during the year.

I only attended one live writers conference (usually it’s more), but I participated in several on-line conferences or workshops in 2010.

I’m disappointed that I only sent out a few submissions to editors or agents. Like winning the lottery, and the fact that you must buy a ticket in order to win, so it is with writing. Write your story, revise it, have it critiqued, revise it a few more times, but then you must submit it if you want to see it published.

However, the good news is that I revised (a few times) my historical MG novel, written during the 2009 NaNoWriMo period, and I wrote and revised (a few times) my tween fantasy, as well as worked on some shorter stories. One polished novel a year isn’t too bad at all. Maybe, though, future goals would be more than one a year.

I also helped clean turtles in a river oil spill near our house. This was not a writing goal for 2010; however, I never find time-investments in new things a waste. I’m sure oil spills or turtles will show themselves in a future story.

How did your 2010 writing goals work out?

Writer’s Inspiration Boost

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I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking of how to connect two main characters in one of my novels (besides the obvious conflicts). I need (want) them to be interconnected, but I can’t brainstorm how they do. It’s been a struggle on my poor brain. I think about them, wander away, sometimes for a couple months, then come back to think some more. I keep wondering why it’s not working, or if I should just trash one character or perhaps the entire story. (It’s not really writer’s block. Although, I admit, I don’t know what that is besides an excuse.) However, the problem makes me wonder about various ways to boost inspiration and imagination and creativity.

1) Eat well, sleep well, get exercise, see your doctor. Being pain-free, and having blood moving swiftly through your body and into your little grey cells, can only help stimulate writing thoughts and get those creative juices flowing. Sometimes when I’m stuck, I take a LONG walk. This does three things for me: unfreezes my stiffened muscles from sitting hours in one position at my computer; distracts me with neighborhood happenings; and releases some built up story-making-adreneline to free my mind to think more clearly.

2) Get off of drugs which make your brain sluggish. (Talk with your doctor about this one.)

3) Get onto drugs, which make your brain a wilderness to explore. (A Federal Marshall I know who is a mystery writer solves his writer’s block or plot problems by “sitting down with Jack” (a bottle of Jack Daniels) until he comes up with a solution in his plot. Personally, I think this way would turn my mind to mush, so it’s not something I recommend; just something I know works for one crazed writer.)

4) Find writing support. Join a writing organization and participate. You can also find writing support by taking a class or by reading books on craft. Three of my favorite ones include ON WRITING, THE FIRST FIVE PAGES, and NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS: UNCOMMON WAYS TO REVISE. In the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of SCBWI bulletin, Kate Dopirak writes about forming her “writing team” in a classroom of middle school kids. A self-published author I know uses his “editors,” who are six beta readers, including librarians and teachers. There are unlimited writing support groups on-line (critique groups, forums, listservs, blogs, etc). It can be done live (critique groups, writing conferences, going to hear visiting authors, local write-ins, etc.). 5) Step back from the story. Maybe start another one. But then come back to your original story, knead out those bumps, and become an award-winning author.

What additional ways do you have to boost your writing?

Character Careers

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I was thinking about the various careers I’ve given characters through my stories, and how each of those careers make for something interesting to add to each story. It may be because I’ve held several different types of jobs myself, and oodles more if you count all the volunteer stuff I’ve done.

Years ago, when I received an email telling me I won a laptop (disclaimer — I’m not always that gullible), I was wading through their many pages of questions about me, when it started getting more and more personal. I thought to just quit, but decided instead to start making up things. After all, I AM a fiction writer. For my career, I wrote down “Hair Growth Specialist.” I have nothing for, nor against, these people. It’s just something I knew absolutely nothing about. I never did get that laptop (without having to buy a bunch of things), but even today, my spam will pick up emails about Hair Growth, and it cracks me up. I still know nothing about the job. So I’m thinking my next story will have to include either a hair growth specialist, or else a compulsive liar. Either one makes me smile.

So what out-of-the-ordinary jobs have you given your characters?

NaNoWriMo 2010 Struggle

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NaNoWriMo comes in November. So does Thanksgiving and my husband’s birthday. Last year, my first NaNo, I ended up not writing the last six days of the month because of cooking company. (Here is a good sidetrack point about grammar. With a missing comma or word, you may come to the conclusion that I am a cannibal. Not true. I meant that I was doing a lot of cooking, and better than normal cleaning, for company.) Hence, I did not “win” last year. However, I did get a completed novel out of it later, which was, in my opinion, the whole purpose of the NaNoWriMo exercise.

Although I’ve kept up with the daily word count so far this year (1,667 words/day), and have even stashed away some extra words each day, expecting not to be writing around the Thanksgiving period, I found myself sinking into a slump. I was doing well. I am doing well. And yet here I am in a writing depression. What is that about?

And then I open my NaNoWriMo email from my regional leader. She mentioned that Week Two was the hardest week of all. What? Had she come into my house? Into my head? How did she know that? I suppose I should have felt more comforted, knowing other writers were feeling, at this point, the same as I. “No!” I shout. “I am not a groupie. I am an individual writer! I will not be like everyone else. Ha. I’m not depressed any more. There.” And I’m off to write my 1,667+ words.

Face to the Grind — Writing Challenge

 

Grand Traverse Bay

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Face to the grind.. Not quite sure what that means, except that it sounds painful. I’ve got my face to the grind, working on NaNoWriMo this month. It’s not painful, actually; it simply requires discipline. Then again, perhaps that is painful in a sense.

From participating last year, I know the NaNoWriMo group gives ideas periodically for what to write about for the day, in order to add to your word count. Just like never getting bored, I never have trouble thinking up things to write. What I have trouble with is the discipline of writing. Therein lies my writing challenge for you — do some raw writing about this photo I took on a trip up north last week. Set the timer for ten minutes… Ready? Set? Go.