Thursday, January 03, 2008

THE BEST LAID PLANS ...

Well, it had been my plan to announce that my Web site has been revised -- which it has been. However, instead of that great new Web site showing up, I'm getting an error message. Sheesh! And there's a disclaimer on my hosting server that says it may take 24 hours for updated material to show up. Soooo... I have to wait until tomorrow to see if the server is being temperamental or if I messed up when I uploaded the files. Hopefully, my revised Web site will be up and running sometime Thursday. In the meantime, if you want to look at the error message, my url is: www.genenevalleau.com :)

Since my big announcement fell a bit flat, I'm riding on the coattails of Alice's blog. I designed my own cover and have drafts of my next two covers done -- as you will be able to see once my revised Web site is up and running. Alice asked how it felt to design your own covers. The control freak part of my personality likes it. One drawback is there's no one else to blame if it turns out ugly or doesn't sell a bazillion books. Kinda like the Web site that doesn't show up. I can't just call the designer and have her fix it. The designer is me! Another drawback is being too close to a project to see it objectively. Critique partners can be very helpful in pointing out places where our story doesn't work for them. Same with covers -- having someone take a "fresh eyes" look at a cover is very helpful for me.

Once my revised Web site shows up, I'd love to have your comments (as well as letting me know if there's something that's not working). If you're so inclined, enter my contest. I'll be doing several contests to celebrate the release of my first book, SONGS OF THE HEART, which will be released April 4, a month earlier than originally scheduled.

The revised Web site and contest are part of the promotion for this book. I'll also be attending more conferences than usual this year, with promotional materials in hand, which I will design. (One of the benefits of also being a Web and graphic designer.) Will this be effective in selling more copies of my book? I'll see when the royalty statements come in!

Once again, to expand on Alice's blog about covers influencing whether or not a reader buys your book -- what promotional efforts influence whether you buy a book? Any at all? Most of the books I buy are written by authors I know and I've liked their previous work. How about a new author or one you haven't read?

Karen said she chooses by referrals or reviews. Paty looks at the cover and back blurb. Yet I think we've all ended up with books that we'd like to throw against the wall. Did the story not live up to the packaging or the promotion? Does it truly boil down to whether or not you like the story?

On the other hand, did you ever wonder if there was a delightful story hidden behind a less-than-attractive cover? Do you take the time to read the first page or skim through the book? Or do you decide in ten seconds or less whether or not to buy a book?

I took one more peek and still no updated Web site showing up. So I guess I'll post this blog, call it a night, and check on the Web site tomorrow. Thanks in advance for your comments and suggestions on promotional efforts. They will be helpful to me over the next few months -- and I'll bring freebies to offer up at our meetings!

By the way, Alice, I love the cover of your new book. I'll buy the book because you wrote it, not because of the cover. Once I start reading a book, I rarely go back and look at the cover unless someone points out something odd about the cover, as you did that the cover models have the wrong color hair. At least one of them doesn't have three arms as a now infamous cover did!

11 comments:

Paty Jager said...

Sorry your website wasn't popping up, Genene. I'll go look for it after I comment here.

I think it's great that you can design your own covers. I've kind of done that with the Petticoat series. One of the cover artists at TWRP did an awesome job with a photo my daughter and I staged to make the cover of the second book(Outlaw in Petticoats). I like the style and thought it lent well to the series concept and have taken pictures to go with the other books and they even redid the Marshal in Petticoats book to match.

As for promotion. I've been tallying up my numbers so my anal husband can get our taxes done as soon as he gets his W2 and I can tell you- at this point I've spent double in promotion what I've made from books! Not a good sign, but I'm hoping name recognition slowly takes off and more and more books will be purchased.

Good luck with all your promotion and books! I'm looking forward to reading your first book!

Paty Jager said...

Yep! I got a big FORBIDDEN message when I tried to access your website.

Alice Sharpe said...

Genene, I hope you'll blog again when your web site is up and running. I'll keep checking, too.

I've said it before: I am very grateful I don't have to do promotion. I'm no good at it. I don't have a long enough attention span. But the good thing (or one of them as I am sure there are many others) about promoting your work is that you probably don't do what I do and that is let go of a book even before publication. I tend to think of my books as little soldiers, battling their way through the harsh realities of life without much help from me. This fits my personality better as I tend to look forward and have trouble looking back, always more interested in the book I am writing than the book I have written.

Having said all that, I don't know if it's always true, as I am very excited about Avenging Angel for a few esoteric reasons. Flip-flop!

I'm excited to see what promotional materials you come up with. I don't know which ones work. Have you done research? I guess my biggest inspiration to buy a book comes from name recognition but another one comes from an interesting title or cover blurb. I remember seeing Jurassic Park in the bookstore, reading about DNA recovered from dinosaurs and a theme park created for said dinosaurs and thinking I had to read the book, it was a wonderful idea. And at that time I'd never heard of Michael Chriton (sp.)

Of course, it helps to have a floor display at a bookstore, something I would know nothing about!

I bet you're anxious for April.

And I would love to know about the cover with the man with three arms. I've never heard of that. Ack, what a nightmare. Tell more....

Danita Cahill said...

Genene, congrats on the website completion even if it's not cooperating at the moment. And woo-hoo about your book getting published and out there a month early. How exciting!!!

Of course I love your cover, and not just because I had a hand in it...

Karen Duvall said...

Congratulations, Genene, on your website! How fun. I can't wait to see it.

I'm a bit cynical about self-promotion so take whatever I have to say with a grain of salt. If you don't have good distribution for your book, promotion's not going to help you much, but at the same time you absolutely have to do it to sell books or no one will know you have one. What a vicious circle, huh? 8^)

Promotion can be fun, and I think that's the main benefit for the author, that they enjoy hands-on involvement in the sales of their book. It can be quite a rush. 8^) I'm all for doing what makes you happy. As for it being effective at selling books? I have to say not very (see paragraph above).

Personally, I don't do it any more. It's no longer fun. I'll do a major promo blast in the first month, and that's it. I've made about $600 on my TWRP book and probably spent $50 on promotion if that. I'm done. It's on to writing the next book (which is finished) and committing to get it published by a mass market publisher. And if this one doesn't make it, then I'll try again with the next book, and so on.

Genene, I think your website will be the most effective promo tool you have. When you interact on blogs and groups, and post your URL in your sig line, people visit. It doesn't mean they'll buy your book, but they may read the excerpt you post and keep you in mind for later. That's all any advertising can do. The book has to sell itself.

I love it when authors post excerpts on blogs and on loops because then I get a taste of whether or not I like their writing. Sometimes it can work against them, though. I'm still happy to see a sample for that very reason. For example, I was eager to buy a book that just came out, and the author posted an excerpt of it on the FF&P (futuristic, fantasy & paranormal chapter of RWA) loop, but after reading it, I won't be buying that book. So it works both ways.

Bookmarks are good because they're useful. It doesn't guarantee readers will buy your book, but they'll appreciate the gift. All the freebie goodies are fun and appreciated, but I've never once made a decision to buy a book based on a promo item I've received.

Alice Sharpe said...

Genene, I've been looking at your cover on the blog page. It really is beautiful. How did Danita help you with it. Is there a piano player in your book?

Danita Cahill said...

Genene seems to be MIA, so I'll answer your question, Alice. I took the photo of the rose on the keyboards for Genene's cover, although the whole design was her idea.

Genene said...

Sorry! I really was MIA, as Danita said. I worked at the shelter today, got home late and have spent the last couple of hours working on my revised Web site. I got the hosting customer help folks on the line, looked at the content list again and figured out myself why it wasn't showing up. Then not all the graphics were uploaded and I wanted to tweak this and that ...

Soooo ... though all of you are probably in bed, the revised Web site is now up and running. Hooray! And it's after midnight, so it's officially January 4 -- exactly four months until the release of my first book. Yeah, I'm a bit excited. But I'm also a bit cross-eyed from working on the Web site, so if you see any snafus, I'd appreciate knowing. I'll probably look at the site in a couple days and be horrified at something I missed!

As Danita said, she took the photo of the keyboard and rose for the cover of my first book, which was so much nicer than trying to work with stock photos that aren't quite right. Danita's was perfect! The hero in this book is a former rock star and songwriter who composes on the piano.

I'm intrigued by comments about promo. Alice says she doesn't do it at all, which could be nice. Paty said she's spent about twice as much on promo as she's made with books. I'm going to have to sell a bunch of books or I'll be in that situation too! :) Karen has made quite a bit more on her latest book than she's spent on promotion, yet has lots of promotion tips. Is promotion all a big crap shoot? LOL! I am having fun with the promotion. It's making me grow and try new things and get out of my comfortable ruts.

Paty, I'll be interested in hearing how name recognition goes with selling your series. My first three releases are connected books, and I'm planning the promo to lead from the release of one book to the next. I really like style of your Petticoat series and think it's great TWRP redid the Marshal in Petticoats book cover.

Alice, I'm curious to know why you're excited about Avenging Angel in ways you weren't excited about your other books??

As for the cover with three arms, I wish I could remember who was blessed (!) with that one and all the details. As I recall (and my recall could be faulty), it was a clinch cover on a historical and someone must have decided the positioning of the arms wasn't quite right, so they changed one arm but neglected to get rid of the original arm. It wasn't really that obvious with all the flowing skirts and billowing sleeves ...

Alice Sharpe said...

LOL, Genene, three arms.

I didn't mean to say I wasn't excited by my other books (what a terrible mother that would make me.) I just meant that there are certain books that seem to me like markers, books that have pushed or pulled me in new ways. And truth be told, I imagine I feel this way about every book before its release but with my lousy memory, just forget about it between times.

I'm going to go look at your website!

Alice Sharpe said...

Genene, I just looked all over your website. All the links worked, all the graphics and pictures looked beautiful, your stories sound fascinating. I didn't know that's why you grow your hair.

Good job!

Genene said...

Alice,
Thanks for looking at the Web site and for the nice comments. I thought I had bored everyone with tales of why I grow my hair. :)

I also appreciate you explaining about your book. The more I look at your cover, the more I like it. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy!