Friday, March 30, 2012

Energized

Current Project:  Rebel Heart
Status: Revamping the story as well as the cover.






Unleash the power:


My words to remember. It might be the B12 injections or it might be the books I have been reading but I am energized and brimming with ideas. It has been so long since I have really wanted to write. I've always said, "I was tired." but the truth is, I didn't have a direction. Nor did I have ideas. There was nothing in my head that wanted to pop out on the pages. Until now.


Now as with Genene, my first priority is to write. I write first then I edit and then and only then do I blog. I'm trying to write ten pages a day. Wow, as I write this I have only written 5 1/2. Does this page count? Fraid not.


I have no words of wisdom just faith in my passion and I hope all of you will keep the faith.


I want to thank Barb for the wonderful suggestion of the kindle select program and the five free days of advertising. This seems to me to be cost affective, and not very much work. The blog tours I have gone on are far from painless. With anything there are no guarantees that something you put effort in will pay off. But the amazon select so far has been the best bet for me.


Also, Barb, I finished The Honeymoon Cottage on the way home from Eagle Crest on Wednesday. I really enjoyed the book. I plan on posting a short review on Amazon as soon as I find the time. Eek, I still have two blogs to write.


Thanks Barb. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

IS THIS PROMOTION OR IS THIS INSANITY?

Current Project: LEGACY SERIES
Status: Writing, editing, promoting :)
Posted by: Genie Gabriel



Blog tours, online parties, contests, free reads, and an occasional personal appearance. Welcome to my world of promoting my new LEGACY series!

First of all, I feel compelled to say I'm basically an introvert. I like to stay at home, dig in my yard, snuggle with my dogs, and play cards with my sons and grandkids. Ironically, I'm also the kind of person who will start conversations with strangers in supermarket lines and I love to respond to commenters online. 

So when I considered promotion for my series of books, I figured the more I could do online--without changing out of clothes that were covered in dog hair or garden dirt--the happier I would be. (A photo at left of some of my daffodils insist it's spring in spite of the cold weather!)

I collected lots of ideas on how to promote my books and picked the ones that seemed to fit my personality best. Well, I was kinda dragged into the world of blogging, but I'm getting the hang of it. I love giving away things but need to make sure I'm not spending way more money than I earn on books. I also discovered online parties, where fifty or more authors offer excerpts of their books and give away prizes.

And I do change out of my "grubby" clothes once in a while and venture into the world of real people. :)

Though I thought I had a "plan," the promotion blitz for the release of the first book of my series, PICTURE PERFECT LEGACY, still knocked my writing schedule out of whack. I got rather crabby from not writing before I regained my balance and moved writing back to the top of my priority list where it belonged. If I can't produce a good book, promotion isn't going to do be effective! 

Then came some great successes of authors offering free downloads of books. Too good to pass up, that was added to my promotion plan. My first trial of this will come in mid-April with one of my novellas. If that works well, my publisher and I are planning an online "Summer Concert Tour" with my first three novels that are linked to members of a rock band, offering them as free downloads at different times this summer. 

Also a new venture for me is welcoming guest authors to my LEGACY series blog . While I'm here today, Dr. Veronica Esagui is at my LEGACY blog talking about her series of VERONICA'S DIARIES. She has led a fascinating life, and I hope you stop by there to say hello to her. I'm also starting a new contest, and your name will be entered in the drawing twice on Thursdays when guest bloggers visit. 

In addition, Facebook and other social media are still on my list to catch up on. Video trailers are waiting for me to complete…

There are many possibilities for promotion and, for me as for probably most authors, all these possibilities have to be weighed against continuing writing deadlines and other commitments, as well as keeping myself healthy. I've seen a number of authors exhaust themselves when a book is released. With a new release every two months for the next sixteen months, I don't have time for exhaustion--despite the fact it's after 2:00 a.m., which means it's almost bed time for night owl me. :)

I still have moments of wondering what have I done? But with a "to do" database, I'm more productive than ever  and enjoying this new phase of my journey.

As an author, have you found a promotion plan that works for you? Do you have any tips you'd like to share? As a reader, are there promotion efforts that will help you decide to buy a book? 


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Morning Coats, Corsets, and BIG hats, OH MY!

Current Project: Sadie and William
Status: Outlining

My current story is set in Oregon, in a fictional town, in 1903. When I started writing this, I simply wanted a somewhat old-fashioned feel to it. I didn't want to write Regency England, however, because I felt too many people knew so much more about it than me that I would get in embarrassing situations if I were wrong about something.

So, I figured...Edwardian...I like the clothes...there are some cars...sounds good!

But OH! There just aren't that many resources! I spent a whole week researching references for one scene! It makes me think building my own world might actually be easier...

But eventually I found some lovely pictures of clothes and cars (clothes for men have been the most difficult to find), and learned--again--that I am a pretty durn good researcher, so I thought I'd share a few.

Here are some lovely examples of the ubiquitous white muslin dress:Here is a great picture that shows the enormous variety of choices for a man of business...three or four buttons! Bow ties or maybe even a wide tie! One man is even wearing a snappy double-breasted suit.
Here is one of the horrible rib-deforming s-curve corsets women of fashion were required to wear. Sadie is, to her utter delight, far too poor to be required to wear one of these, and I couldn't bring myself to make her cinch it tightly even if she did have to wear one. Instead, she wears an old fashioned Victorian corset and doesn't pull it tight.


And here is a picture of the Theodore Roosevelt family, which shows what youngsters of several ages were wearing. I really like the variety of children's clothes.

And last, but not least, are ladies hats. They got bigger and bigger and bigger until the first world war, but in 1902 and 1903 they were still of manageable sizes and quite lovely. I think it would be wonderful if more hats were worn these days.


Well, there you go; a quick tour of Edwardian--or Belle Epoch--fashion. I hope you enjoyed it...now I have to figure out what to call each piece of clothing so I can write the next scene in which William is getting ready for church. Should he wear a bow tie or a wide tie? If only he could wear a cravat a la papillon....

Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: The Giveaway

On Tuesday, March 13, I finally published The Honeymoon Cottage on Amazon Kindle, with a list price of $2.99 (the minimum for the KDP Select Program).  I planned to use one free promotion day that Friday, so didn't do any advertising or promotion during the week while it was listed at $2.99.

By the end of Thursday, I had sold a whopping 3 copies (thank you, mom and friends) and was ranked around 200,000 in sales overall on Amazon.  Basically the book was invisible.  It didn't show up anywhere unless someone searched specifically for my name or the book's title.

On Friday I posted on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter and email that the book was free for that day only.  I also took out two ads:  First, a listing on Kindle Nation Daily's Free books list ($29.99), and then two pay-per-click ads on Goodreads, one directing readers to my book's Goodreads page, and one sending them directly to the Amazon buy page.  I wanted to see which of these ads had better results.  Within a few hours I discovered the Goodreads ads were not generating any attention, so I cancelled them (so I wouldn't be charged anything).

The book was free from approximately one a.m. on Friday until midnight Friday night.  During that time I had the following results:

2841 people downloaded the book for free (2498 on amazon.com; 315 downloaded at amazon.uk, and 28 on amazon.de).

My book rose from the #200,000 range to a high of #1 Romance Series Free Bestseller, #8 Romantic Suspense Free Bestseller, and #121 overall in the Kindle store.

The part I was most interested in was what would happen once the book was no longer free.  Would it drop like a rock back to the invisibility of before, or would it get a bump from the increased visibility the free promotion gave me?

I quickly found out.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, the book is among the sea of novels listed at $2.99. But so far it's still...

#1 "Hot New Read" in Romance Series
#18 "Hot New Read" in Romantic Suspense
#9 Bestseller in Romance Series
hovering in the 3000-4000 range in overall Kindle sales

I also received my first review from someone who gave the book a try because it was free (a nice, detailed, 4-star review).  I'm really pleased with this because the review gives an accurate description of the type of book The Honeymoon Cottage is--sweet, gentler, with suspense but not breakneck pace or hot-n-sexy tone. Exactly the audience I'm going for, so it should help potential readers decide if it's the right book for them.

The other really important place of increased visibility is one I'd heard about but never paid much attention to:  the "people who bought this book also bought the following" area. This is a scrolling bar on the book's page that shows similar books to the one you're looking at.  The thing I found out is that free downloads count as "sales" for this list.  This is incredibly important. 

In other words, if those 2800 people who downloaded my book for free also bought or downloaded other books, my book will now show up on those books' pages (and vice versa; anyone looking at my book will now see a list of other books that people also bought/downloaded when they got mine). This means I have essentially a free ad for my book on 95 other books' pages (I counted 'em). Basically 95 more opportunities for my book to be discovered on Amazon.com.

So overall I think the experiment was a success. It is helping me "jump the divide" between just selling to people I know and reaching people who've never heard of me or my books but are looking for something to read.

My goal was to earn enough to cover the cost of the ads.  I far exceeded that goal. I'm actually making enough to start thinking about what I'm going to do with the money (new yacht? trip around the world? pay the plumbing bill from when the pipes broke this weekend?). At this point I'm selling enough to keep the book near the top of the "hot new reads" lists, which keeps it visible for people browsing those categories, and in turn drives more sales. I don't think that would have happened without the giveaway.

So where do I go from here?  I originally had the idea that I'd do another free day if the book dropped really far. At this point I'm thinking I'll just let it go without further promotion no matter how far it drops, and work on getting my next two Pajaro Bay books up within the next month. At that time I have to decide whether to do a free promo on the new ones, the first one, or all???  We'll see how this month goes.

I think once I have more books for sale, I can play more with the various promotion opportunities. In the meantime, I'm having a lot of fun on the journey (and the money's not bad either!).

Happy writing, everyone. :-)

Barb

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Inspiration: Use it or Lose It?

Current Project: Edits for Rebel Heart
Status: in progress, revising quite a bit


Inspiration:

in·spi·ra·tion

  [in-spuh-rey-shuhn]  Show IPA
noun
1.
an inspiring or animating action or influence: I cannot writepoetry without inspiration.
2.
something inspired, as an idea.
3.
a result of inspired activity.
4.
a thing or person that inspires.
5.
Theology .
a.
a divine influence directly and immediately exertedupon the mind or soul.
b.
the divine quality of the writings or words of a personso influenced.


Where or how do you find inspiration for your novels has been one of the most asked questions on this blog tour for Safari Moon. So I will put the question out to all of you.

I know I find inspiration in so many ways. Just looking out my window when a family of deer walk across my front lawn to the countries I have visited. I find inspiration in books I read and pictures I see. Listening to the wind blow and howl during a storm provides wonderful sensory stimulus for a descriptions. Most authors, I think, are people watchers. Television can inspire as well as family and friends. 

One of the ideas for Safari Moon came from my parents who after they retired took bicycle trips all over the world and in the U.S. They visited countries such as Bali, New Zealand, Tasmania, Greece, and places in the U.S such as the Natchez Trace, New England and Alaska.

All though the bike tours were not the main theme, they did provide a major character with a career.

The castle above looks like a fairy tale to me. Or it could be part of my 12 dancing princess series. Did I forget books? Oh my, I still haven't used my book of haunted castles for a background in a novel. Maybe I can use it for my May Day novella. 

Where do you find inspiration?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

THE OTHER SIDE OF PACING

Current Project: The LEGACY series
Status: Writing, editing, promoting
Posted by: Genie Gabriel



I really liked Meggan's post yesterday about enjoying the leisurely pace of her writing right now. I applaud her for being comfortable with where she is in her journey. 

Perhaps because I wasn't always comfortable with the pace of my writing, I did a lot of comparing with other writers. They could produce three or four publishable books every year. I was still working on my first book after several years. 

Even more frustrating for me was other writers "got it." They knew how to put together memorable characters who battled their way through internal and external conflict, while keeping the plot interesting and moving at a pace that kept readers turning pages. I was still struggling not to "head hop" from one point of view to another with every other paragraph. 

Fast forward, ahem, a few years  and now my biggest challenge is balancing writing and promoting without neglecting my family or my doggie herd. Sometimes I do a good job of balancing. Other times I drop a plate or two in my juggling act and need to pause to sweep up the pieces. That's OK too. 

Like Meggan, I've learned to be comfortable at the current point in my journey. Granted, I've had to put my "to do" list on a database to be productive enough to keep up. However, I've also learned how much I can do. That's very rewarding!

Where are you in your writing journey? Are you happy with the pace of your writing or planning to make some changes?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I'm Slow, and I'm Happy About It

Current Project: William and Sadie
Status: first draft

Recently, one of the other writers I know told me I should hurry up and write the rest of my book because she thought it would sell. When I started writing stories again—after 20 years off—I felt the same way. I wanted to finish as fast as I could and get the words out there into the world. I wanted others to like the tale I was telling, to recognize that I was a *great* writer, and to pay me for it. Oh, and I wanted to be perfect. In a hurry.

That she thinks my writing will sell is a marvelous compliment. I get a happy-glowing feeling whenever anyone likes my words, when they want to read the next page or the whole story. I am deeply appreciative of any such approbation. Keep it coming!

For various outside reasons, however, I can’t sell any of my writing right now. For my family, it just wouldn’t work. But I still want to write my stories, and to finish them, and eventually to sell them so they can be shared with lots of other people. I still want the sense of accomplishment…and yes, I dream of fame and fortune, so I want the recognition and money, too. I want to know that something I created—not a child, those always go their own way—made it possible for me to do good things for those I care about.

The delay has been an unexpected gift, though. I now have time to make the story better. I have time to learn the craft of writing better. I have time to

s a v o r

the feeling

of a story

unfolding slowly

from my imagination.

I have time to compare my work to that of other authors I admire and see where I could get closer to the rhythm and flow they have achieved. I have time to wonder, and contemplate, and experiment.

For really the first time in my life, the deadline is far away, the hurry, hurry is gone. Perhaps it’s due to my age, my stage of life, or other parts of the natural process of gaining experience. Whatever it is, I am thrilled to have managed to slow down enough to appreciate the process. I am content to be steeped in the journey of writing.

Fame and fortune can wait. I have stories to experience.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Pricing

Hi, all.

After exhaustive research, I've learned the truth about pricing your self-published novel: No one knows what works.

When you start researching the subject, you'll read all sorts of advice, from "you must price at 99¢ to sell" to "price your novel at $5.99 like a print paperback to show your work is worth more."

They can't both be right--or can they?

I think the point is that this is a new world. A lot of people are buying Kindles (and Nooks, and iPads, and iPhones, and etc., etc.), and are looking for reading material. 

So there's a huge potential market out there.

But I think there are several questions you can ask yourself to help figure out what *might* work for you:

1) Do you already have a name (or a "platform," as all the self-promotion experts call it)? If you're already a New York Times Bestselling Author, why are you reading this blog? Get your work out there and rake in the dough from your loyal fans who are aching to buy your older, out-of-print books, and any new material you can give them.

2) Assuming #1 doesn't apply to you, have you written one book or ten? If you have one book (and don't plan to have more for a while), your marketing strategy will likely be different from someone who has a lot of different books to work with. I think if you have multiple books to sell (and maybe some novellas and short stories to throw in the mix as well), then you can really do some marketing experiments to see what works. Try a giveaway of a short story or novella, and see if that drives sales to your other (connected) books. Or try giving away a whole book, maybe on just one platform (Amazon Prime Lending Library? Nook? Your blog? Smashwords?), and see if sales of that same book rise on other platforms. Have a Valentine's Day-themed story? Give it away on Valentine's Day, and then re-price it later and see if that jump-starts any sales. Try advertising different books in different places, or to different types of audiences. Play with the various options with your different books, and see what kind of response you get.

What I'm going to try with my first book (The Honeymoon Cottage) is the Kindle KDP Select program. For those who don't know, this is a controversial program by Amazon that offers several interesting incentives to authors-- but only if you agree to sell your work exclusively on Amazon.com for 90 days. There are a lot of different opinions on this program, and I've waffled on whether or not to participate. My decision finally came down to the opportunity it offers to jumpstart attention by strategically using free giveaway days. I think this feature works better for those with multiple releases, but it is a way for anyone to get a burst of attention for a new book, even if it's my first and only book for sale so far. The other thing that helps self-pubbed authors is that many of the big publishers don't participate in it, which helps indie authors get more attention within the program. The fact that it only commits me to the program for 90 days is another incentive to try it. After that time, I should have two more books ready to put up for sale, and can launch the group of books at all the online retailers at that time. So I'm thinking of this as a pre-launch sneak peek, and later will be a full launch of the series. We'll see what happens.

If you'd like more info on the pros and cons of the KDP Select program, here are a bunch of sources I used in my research:


Yes, that's a lot to read (and these are only the tip of the iceberg). But it's important to understand the business if you want to take advantage of these opportunities. What I found interesting was the wide variety of experiences people had using the same publishing program. I think this is a variation on the old adage: there are three important things you need to do to create a bestseller. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

My next blog, on Wednesday, March 21, will be on my beginner's attempts at promotion.

Happy writing, everyone!

Barb

Barb

Monday, March 05, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Friday, March 02, 2012

Essential Elements For a Successful Book

Current Project: Rebel Heart
Status: in edits


Fireworks in the making: EEEKKK....






Blogs, blogs, and more blogs. Sometimes they are actually quite fun and sometimes they are a bit boring. I am currently getting ready for my second VBT with goddessfish. This makes 40 blogs for tours I have written since the first of December. There is sweat on my brow--well maybe my rapidly typing fingers.


One of the most asked questions in some form is:  what are the essential elements for a romance novel?


My first response to this is do really think I can answer this in less than 600 words? And in some cases this question pops up in an interview which means it needs to be answered in a short paragraph. Now I'm not saying this is a stupid question--not at all. The search for the answer has made me explore the idea. So, what are the most important elements?


Very briefly, I think the characters are at the top of my list. Have you ever read a book where you did not like the hero or the heroine? I have. And have I finished said book? Rarely. Characterization is my first step in my writing process. I know everything significant about each main character and the secondary characters who will play a role in the progression of the story. I know the characters flaws and their attributes. Everything...


How important is characterization to you?


Next on my list would be the major turning points as well as the black moment. From these elements I usually have a basic idea of the plot. And that is about as good as it gets for me. If I plot any more, it is a waste of time because my characters generally take over the books and send it in a different direction. I know I do extensive plotting but it is one scene at a time. And I don't plot the following scene until the one I am working on is written.


Where do you put major turning points and the black moment in your list of essential components?


Thirdly, (is that a word?), I believe point of view is extremely important. I dislike head hopping. It's annoying and confusing. I know that for some pov is difficult to understand but it is so important for maintaing tension. If one character doesn't know what the other is thinking, well... one can only imagine the consequences. 


POV-- where does this stand in your mind.


At this point I could still go on and on and elaborate in each paragraph but I will spare you and just ask for your opinions. I understand there are more components to a successful novel: sentence structure, grammar, themes, conflicts (internal, external, emotional) and the list goes on.


I think I should write a book. No, I don't think I would enjoy writing a book with this title. 


How about you. What do you think are the essential components.


In light of the concerns about pinterest, I will post one of my own photos today. Although I don't understand the uproar. It's a photo I took at Disney World a couple of years ago. 


And I would say...are there fireworks here?









Thursday, March 01, 2012

IT'S TAKEN YEARS TO GET TO LAUNCH DAY!

Current Project: LEGACY series
Status: Launch day of the first book!
Posted by: Genie Gabriel



March 1, 2012. Launch day for my LEGACY series. Bet you knew this topic was coming. :)

I've been preparing for this day for years. Plotting, outlining, writing, being frustrated, welcoming aha moments, editing, designing covers--and so many other things that go into preparing books to present to readers. 

I was surprisingly calm on Wednesday, but find my tummy swirling and jumping with excitement today as promotion moves into full swing. 

When I first started writing seriously about twenty years ago, I didn't envision I'd be releasing a series of books, one every other month. It took me fourteen years of learning and revising and learning some more and revising again to sell my first book. 

How did other writers produce three or four books a year, when sometimes I thought I'd never learn to put together the basic pieces of one story. I got point of view sorted out and had a good plot going, then I learned there was motivation and pacing and building tension and conflict and…omigosh! There was even more?!?

Now I realize I'll always be learning. While I'm learning I'll be writing, because shaping words into a story is the best way to understand how the pieces flow together so readers don't see the mechanics. They will simply be swirled into the characters' lives and carried on their emotions and not want the adventure to end. 

Twenty years ago I was struggling to finish one book. Now I'm celebrating launch day of a series. One more step on a constantly evolving journey. Thank you for allowing me to share it with you.

Whether you're a writer or a reader or both, I hope you take the time to celebrate your accomplishments. I've realized how important it is that we acknowledge we are moving forward in a positive direction. If you just want to cherish your accomplishments in your heart, that's cool. However, if you want to share an accomplishment here, I'd love to hear it.