NaNoWriMo Prep and Promoting Books

This is the last day before NaNoWriMo 2018. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, although it’s gone international now, and encourages adult writers to produce 50,000 words on a new story in the 30 days of November. This will be my 10th year participating.

Personally, November is a horrible month to choose for pounding out 50K raw words (rough draft). There are holidays and family visits and company coming for 1/4 of the time and dear hubby’s birthday and, of course, one less day than half of the months of the year. Yet! What a writing challenge.

I used to cheat to get in my 50K, or about 17,000 words per day, and counted any writing, including letters and journaling pages. I don’t do that now. At least I try to focus on the one and only story I’m working on. O, discipline. It is so hard for me!

For my NaNoWriMo preparation, I have the characters already known to me (from three previous books in the series), but I’ve written out plot scenes on 3″ x 5″ cards and rubberbanded them into three acts. I’m all set to TAM (Type Away Madly). O, discipline. I feel the most prepared this year for NaNoWriMo than I have any previous year.

Besides focusing on NaNoWriMo, I had professional author photos taken for the first time yesterday. After ten books, I thought it was time for this. I normally hate being on “that side” of the camera, but it was so much fun–all outdoors, naturally. And my photographer, Dena Haas, is amazing. I can’t wait to see the results, and to share them.

I also have ongoing book promotion and marketing to keep on top of. SCBWI is featuring kids’ books published in 2018. I’m supposed to promote not only mine, but help others out as well by promoting theirs. It started last week and goes through November. I figured I’d let the wave of enthusiasm flow over me, and then in a week or so, when people fade out of promoting, I’ll get in there to market and promote some, all while writing 1,700 words a day and loving spending time with my family.

You writers: write. You readers: support your authors and buy their books, and review them, too. Come on, November. I’m ready for you.


Marketing and Promoting Your New Book

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


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:



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

What is Writing – Publishing Success?

A writing friend recently called me successful. Her comment gave me pause. What is writing and/or publishing success?

I see author success in steps.

Step one: Write a good book. This involves taking classes, reading books on craft, attending conferences, webinars, workshops, joining critique groups – all to improve your writing. Every year you should be a better writer than the year before. If you’ve got a well-written story, you are successful.

Step two: Submit to and have agents and editors give you positive feedback about your work, even if they reject you as client or for a manuscript. When your story makes it through the initial reader, through the editor, through the editorial group, and to the acquisitions group, this all indicates that people in the publishing industry verify that you have been successful with step one. If traditionally accepted, follow that route, and I’d strongly recommend it.

If wanting to pursue self-pub, follow the next steps.

Step three: Partner with an awesome cover illustrator. Sales rank has proven that fresh covers make a difference even when there is no text change. You can judge a book by its cover. Traditional presses can pay $1,000 – $5,000 for a single cover illustration. That’s out of my price range. But if you know an illustrator whose work you admire, negotiate for a reasonable fee. Never accept an offer for a free cover. There could be legal and relational repercussions in the future. Finding a good illustrator match is success.

Step four: Learn how to self-publish. There are entire books on this subject. I could list a few hundred tips here, but it would be like a flood gate opening. Read as much as you can about how to self-publish. If this is the route for you, then do it. Having an ebook, or holding a physical copy of your book in your hands with your name on the cover, this, too is success.

Step five: Book sales indicate success. If only friends and relatives are buying your books, your success is limited to who you know. To me, when one stranger buys my book or does a review, this is success. To sell books, learn about marketing and promotion. Again, many books on this subject. Read. Read. Read. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Repeat what works and embrace your failures. I spent $92 on gas alone for a far-away book signing and sold a mere three copies of my book during the signing. I didn’t get paid for those books, not until, according to their contract, all their inventory of my books had sold, which they never did because they went out of business and donated my other 17 copies someplace. I can only hope that “someplace” wasn’t the dump. What is marketing success to me? Marketing success is when I sell books.

Step six: Write another book. If you make millions of dollars from your first and only book, good for you, but that’s not truly literary success. Being able to be creative enough to write more and more good stories – this is success.

Step seven: Having the strength and endurance to repeat these steps with each book, and to convince your friends and family that you really do have a job which takes up your time – this is success.


(Success to the successful thistle sifter.)

Even More Marketing Tips for Authors — Reviews and Awards

Continuing with my blog series on marketing, whether you’re traditionally published or self published, we move on to Reviews and Awards.

Re: Reviews

Some websites will not advertize your book unless you have twenty or more reviews on Amazon, or else pay them to advertize.

One author friend called reviews “golden.” My response to her is that if reviews caused gold to come in, they would be golden. But what she meant was that readers tend to put stock in reviews, and skip over books with little or few of them. Even bad reviews are all right (as long as there are hardly any), and sometimes a banned book can work to one’s sales rank. One friend from a very large family and married into a large family, had all her relatives give reviews. Therefore, in my opinion, reviews can be biased and not very helpful. What I personally like best are reviews from strangers, for I know they are honest reviews.

There are also reviews on Goodreads and through blogs, but in the count of things, they don’t. I mean, the reviews in these locations are wonderful, but don’t count in the tally of Amazon reviews. I’ve even had people write reviews on my FaceBook page, as reviews. I love getting the review numbers, but don’t really fret about any negative comments. There are plenty of positive ones. Besides I’m already working on my next book to worry way back there.

Sometimes authors will trade reviews: “You review my book and I’ll review yours.” The trouble I find with this is what if I don’t like their book, their characters, their plot, their language, their themes? I will be honest, but there’s no need to point out only the warts. I’ve not come across a really, really, really badly written book, anyway, only ones I won’t recommend.

There are also numerous paid reviews on-line and in print. So you dish out money to get a review which may be praising of your baby, or may stick out their tongues at it. It’s always a risk, but it’s yet another review. Of course, the most respected is that Kirkus review, and I’d love to have one from them on any of my books. Today, Kirkus accepts $400-500 for a book review, depending if you want a fast track or not. Every time this starving artist states those figures I start gasping for breath. Sure, I’d love their review, but I like food better.


Re: Awards

I know many legitimate award-winning authors. I even know some award-winning authors whose companies who gave out awards are defunct or were given by their micro-publishing house. I’ve won writing awards, a few of them. But they are from local or small places (Less than 1,000 entries) that I can’t in all honesty write: “Award-winning Author” on my books or fliers or website. Most every contest these days requires a fee to enter, which is often over a hundred dollars. (Starving artist — Food. Need food!)

I entered a contest about 17 years ago where one judge gave me a 97% and another 37%. Because of the large discrepancy, they brought in a third judge for a number, which was also in the 90’s. However, my friend who won, only received her two numbers in the lower 80 percentile, while my three judges balanced out in the 70 percentile. I realized how subjective judging was, and was so discouraged I’ve only entered one contest since, and I’ve never even took up that dystopia tween book again.


P.S.  Upon rereading this post, I realized how negative my views of reviews and awards are. My apologies. Since these two areas involve what others think, part of me isn’t sensitive to that. I write what I write. I suppose that I hope some people like my stories, but likes are so subjective and sway with the times.

In general, awards and reviews are good — for readers, for organizations who invite you to speak, and if legitimate and large, they are also good for the author. But if you seek after awards, be prepared to budget funds to cover your entrance fees.


More Marketing Tips for Authors — Communication with your Readers

So you’ve written a book. Me, too. What now?

Last year, I took half a year off of writing to learn about marketing and promoting. Nearly every day I spend some time in marketing. Now you get to glean some of what I learned.

In March I posted my top four marketing tips here:

Elaborating on communication with your readers…

There are two major forms of communication today: Online or with Paper.

Online: Website

As listed last month, having a website is vital. People will want to check you out. No need to be shy about this. You wrote it; people read it; they want more. Your website doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive.  There are several free sites, like Wordpress or Weebly, which are not too difficult to figure out, or you could invest in a designer. As far as content, keep it simple and easy for your fans to locate information. The minimum in an author website is an About Me page (author bio) and your published book or books (a separate book page with covers and links to order) and an email contact. Beyond that you could add a blog, or a calendar of events, or contest page. Look over other websites and see what you would like to have on your own website. Never think this is a one-time project. You will find it needs plenty of attention and updating.

Online: Blog

A blog is another social media means of communication. I’ve read suggestions of posting 1-3 times per week. Chose your theme, be it author interviews, book reviews, literacy, writing tips for kids, writing challenges for adults, squirrel sightings, etc. You could also team up with other bloggers to do interviews or giveaways.

Online: Reader Groups, Forums, BlueBoards, and Listservs

You could participate in reader groups, like GoodReads or LibraryThing, posting your author page, doing giveaways, or writing other book reviews. In , getting involved in discussions.

Online: Other Social Media

Other social media means of communication are Twitter, Facebook, instagram, pinterest, YouTube, Vemio, etc. The list is growing.

(Before you’re too overwhelmed, I would like to take a moment to encourage you to start one of these social media venues at a time. Use it and get used to it before expanding to another one.)

During book signings or author presentations, even if someone doesn’t buy your book, they can walk away with something of you in their hands. Most of these need little to no explanation.

Paper: Business Cards

Again, look around at what others have done or see what is available online. Minimal information on the card would be your website addy and your book cover.

Paper: Bookmarks

Similar to information on your business card, except these would be long and narrow.

Paper: Flyer

This is a one-page summary with a short author bio, short synopsis of your book or books, how to reach author you, and how to buy your books. Colors stand out.

There is so much more, both with online communication and paper communication, and each of the bolded titles could have an entire post to itself, but then I’d be writing a book v.s. blogging.

I wish you each well in your reader communications.



Summer Festival — An Opportunity to Promote and Grow

I just came off of two days of May’d in Michigan, an event held near my hometown where I promoted my middle grade historical fiction, THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED. When I first read of the event, I thought, “What a clever title.” And since my book is about a Michigan town, it was written in Michigan, and I was made (born) in Michigan, why not try for it? I applied as a vender and was accepted. I sent in my vender fee, and then the panic set in. What in the world did I know about being a vender? I’d attended many fairs and festivals, of course, but only as an attendee. This was entirely different. In fact, the first morning, my nervous stomach was trying to convince me, “Phooey with the fee. Stay home and be safe.” But as I’m not really one who backs out of commitments, I ignored my innards and trudged warily onward.

My first thought of setting up at the event was to keep it simple. I’ve found that simple always a good plan. So I planned on a card table with copies of my book on it. With a chair and pen, I’d be all set. Of course, I’d be wearing my Victorian outfit with hat, so would physically be a potential draw. I knew I needed water so I wouldn’t dehydrate, and bug spray… so I wouldn’t dehydrate. By the time of set up, my “booth” was a bit more elaborate, including a newly purchased canopy, for which I was very thankful; not because it rained, because it hadn’t, but because we were in the woods. The canopy top, not my table top, was littered with fallen pine needles and bugs.

Financially during the two days, I pretty much broke even with the sale of my books, if you don’t count the fire extinguisher each booth was to have. I’m also thinking I was the only one with a fire extinguisher. It was tucked away under my little card table. Still, the weather was lovely and I was in the woods. (I love the woods.) By doing this, I stretched out and tried something new, and even sold a few books.

But the best of the time was that I got to meet new people. My husband bought me a t-shirt which reads across the front: “Careful, or you’ll end up in one of my novels.” Okay. I’ll change the gender or age or size or the person, but there are interesting characters all around us, just waiting to be written down. So go out and do some personal stretching. Try something new and meet new characters, I mean, new people. You may just find someone you put in your next story.