Monday, September 17, 2018

What's your THING? 4 Steps to Building Your Brand

I love writing. I get a huge thrill when someone reads something I wrote and tells me they liked it--repeat customers who aren't relatives are the BEST!

But I never realized how much work, sacrifice, and embarrassment I would have to go through to promote myself. Selling yourself is awkward. Putting yourself out there is a huge risk. Some of you think rejection from query letters is a knife in the gut. Wait till you go to an event and don't sell a single book. Heart-wrenching! Why can't we just write a phenomenal book and be a big hit over night?? (I know, don't answer that)

I have come to terms with my lot in my writing life. Time management has new meaning after you're published. Since I love the writing and hate the marketing, I'm always looking for ways to make the latter easier so I can do more of the former!

One huge way to help get your books noticed is to Brand Yourself.
Your author name is your brand. Think about your favorite authors--you love reading their stuff and look for new releases by them. You like their style, their stories, their characters, and how they keep you wanting more! You have to make readers want that from YOU!

So here are some suggestions on
How to Brand Yourself:
  • First, Know Yourself - What do you write? Do you like to read your own genre? Where do you live? Do you like to travel? What part of the process are you best at? Worst at? What do you like to do? Do you have a job? On the surface, these questions will help you form a solid AUTHOR BIO. Looking deeper, you will discover more about yourself so you can relate to your readers.
  • Then, Know Your Readers - There's no stereotype for readers. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors! Readers know what they like, and if they like what you write, you'll gain fans for life! To figure out what your readers like, you have to read the best sellers in your genre. If you read the genre you write, it's easy to do research!
  • Now, Go Get Them! -  Go to Book Events--try to speak on a panel and let readers get to know you. If you write sci-fi/fantasy, try going to some Sci Fi Cons. Romance & YA have conventions and events too. For a younger age group, try speaking at a school or children's book fair. You have to get yourself out there.
  • And Keep writing! - The more books you have out there, the more Your Name is out there and the more your fans will have to read and brag about, getting more people to notice you!
I'm still debating how to head up my blog to capture my brand. Here are a few great examples of Authors who have the right idea...

Stephanie Faris - Adorable Children's Author

Christine Rains - Scintillating Speculative Fiction

Elizabeth Seckman - Hopeless Romantic Writer

And my super cheesy SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK!

Crystal Collier - YA Magical Journeys

I've known Crystal for many moons (ha ha). I love her whimsical posts, her sweet author showcases, and especially the "two truths and a lie" challenges. She's doing extremely well with an adorable houseful of rugrats and a bunch of books out there. Including her wonderful Maiden of Time series!

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, five littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

You can find her...
Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Hope you are in good spirits no matter what phase of the writing process you're in!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

What's a Publisher?

Hello, lovely writers!
I have the honor to be a humble host for the IWSG this month. My fellow Co-Hosts are:

And of course, our fearless leader, Alex J. Cavanaugh! We're all here to listen and learn and know we aren't alone!

The question of inspiration this month is...

What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why? 
My publishing journey continues... I've been with the small press Curiosity Quills for several years. It started out great! They paid lots of attention to the authors, they edit with us, they create covers, and they get us set up on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, etc. Plus they have a contest and set up some reviews to get us started. Then, like baby birds, we kicked out of the nest to fend for ourselves... Fly, be free! All in all, it's been good. No matter what, I think most writers have to promote themselves and get out and sell, unless they're picked up by the big publishers. Even then, it's readers and word of mouth that determine how well the book will do... Success breeds more success.

I've stuck my toe in the self-publishing pool with my UnPrincess Novellas. That is all DIY, but there are many formatting programs to help with getting your book published pretty easily. You just have to take care of the editing, cover, and again, promotion!

Writing a book is a distinguished accomplishment. Publishing it is a matter of perseverance and finding the right fit. Promoting it is where the REAL WORK begins! Ugh!

I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's thoughts on Publishing!

In other news...
You may have heard the latest IWSG Anthology Contest is underway. Well, today they are announcing the judges! To find out who they are, hop over to the IWSG site.

In conjunction with the beginnings of the new IWSG Anthology Contest, we have combined all the previous IWSG Anthologies into one IWSG Anthologies website!

And it just so happens, that my Shout Out of the Week is one of the admins:

She's been writing forever and is very good at it. Multi-talented, she can do all aspects of publishing, and has written a ton of great stories! I'm excited to be working with her at the IWSG Anthology site.

Cherie Reich owns more books than she can ever read and thinks up more ideas than she can ever write, but that doesn’t stop this bookworm from trying to complete her goals, even if it means curbing her TV obsession. A library assistant living in Virginia, she writes speculative fiction.

Give me an I! Give me a W! Give me an S! Give me a G!

Go IWSG!!!!

Hey, it's September and that means:
Football Season and Fall! Yay!

Monday, August 27, 2018

8 Ways to Get Kids to Read Your Book

I can't say I'm an expert on selling kids' books, but I do know kids. As a teacher and parent, I've spent a great deal of time with crazy daisies and funny bunnies! I know what they like and what they dislike (probably wouldn't like that I call them crazy daisies and funny bunnies!). No matter the fad of the week or the generation, kids are kids are kids. They love to crow and grow and go.

As an author of MG and YA, kids reading my books is what keeps me going. The feedback I get from my young readers is heartwarming and inspirational. The trouble is, how to get books into those little hands! So here's some advice that works...

How to Get Kids to Read Your Book:

  1. Set up a School Visit - You have to go where kids are. Contact schools and offer a presentation or lesson. Schools are the number one promoters of reading. Go motivate those students! If they like you, they'll want your book.
  2. Do a Library Visit or Reading - Many libraries are happy to host an author. Donate copies of your book. The more visibility you get, the more folks will want to spread the word to read your stuff!
  3. Coordinate a Bookstore Signing with your visits! - Now that you have their interest, tie these visits together with a book signing. The hard part is hoping the kids will remember and persuade their parents to bring them to the signing.
  4. Sign up for a Presentation at a Children’s Book Fair - Many book fairs have a special day or section set up just for kids' presentations and activities. I've done many of these and always sell books from them (suggestions for presentations will be another post coming soon!) 
  5. Be part of a Family-Friendly Vending Event - And have some candy or fun giveaways to attract kids that go with your book, like these fun hand sanitizers:
  6. Host a Signing Party - I try to have my release parties at fun places kids will be: like at an ice cream shop or a kids' boutique. I'm thinking of hosting my next party at a pizza parlor.
  7. Write an MG SERIES - One book is good, but a series will give kids an easy go to for their next read! A series is a great way to keep your name in the front of readers' minds as they look forward to more from you.
  8. Be Funny! - If you can make a kid laugh, you'll capture their heart. They'll see you in a new light. Laughter is a connection. When you make someone laugh, it shows you get them--you know what they like, how they think. And if you can do that, they'll want to laugh some more and read your books!

Bonus - Get to know Children’s Book Reviewers. Reviews are important parts of the publishing and marketing process. Lots of lists are out there, and though many of the book bloggers have extensive reading lists, keep trying!

If you’re lucky, you’ll get an awesome video review like this one from my SHOUT OUT OF THE WEEK:

Tonja is AWESOME, isn't she? She's also brilliant! She spent some time in Europe not only devouring chocolate, cheese and wine, but also worked as a freelance translator and a summary writer for a German television station. How lucky am I that she was able to help me translate some German phrases in my latest Beast World novel, WINDY HOLLOW?? She's amazing!

Currently, Tonja resides somewhere in the back woods of the Ozarks and writes away while tending to chickens, cows and her family of six. Her stories have been published in several collections and magazines. A GLOWWORM was published by Black and White Publishing Company (2017). She's an avid book reader, professional children's book reviewer, outdoor addict and always in search of a new adventure (based in reality, the imagination, or otherwise).

But the best part - I happened to catch her right as she's about to be published! Her debut novel MUSIC BOXES is a slightly dark middle grade urban fantasy about a girl and her ballet dreams with hints toward Hansel and Gretel (just as dash) as well as Coraline. It's scheduled to be released on February 5th, 2019 with Dancing Lemur Press!

Congratulations, Tonja!

Summer's been a blast (of hot air!) Hope you all are ready for Fall. I sure am!