Monday, July 31, 2017

Book Sales Getting Musty? By Carolyn Howard-Johnson


Adapted from the multi award-winning Frugal Book Promoter
 
 
In the world of publishing as in life, persistence counts. Of course, there is no way to keep a book at the top of the charts forever, but if you keep reviving it, you might hold a classic in your hands. Or your marketing efforts for one book may propel your next one to greater heights.
 
I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen authors who measure their success by book sales give up on their book (and sometimes on writing) just about the time their careers are about ready to take off. I tell my students and clients to fight the it’s-too-late-urge.
 
Publicity is like the little waves you make when you toss pebbles into a lake. The waves travel, travel, travel and eventually come back to you. If you stop lobbing little stones, you lose momentum. It’s never too late and it’s never too early to promote. Rearrange your thinking. Marketing isn’t about a single book. It’s about building a career. And new books can build on the momentum created by an earlier book if you keep the faith. Review the marketing ideas in this book, rearrange your schedule and priorities a bit, and keep at it.
 
Here are a few keep-at-it ideas from the second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter:
  • Run a contest on your Web site, on Twitter, or in your newsletter. Use your books for prizes or get cross-promotion benefits by asking other authors for books; many will donate one to you in trade for the exposure. Watch the 99 Cent Stores for suitable favors to go with them.
 
Hint: Any promotion you do including a contest is more powerful when you call on your friends to tell their blog visitors or Facebook pals about it.
 
  • Barter your books or your services for exposure on other authors’ Web sites.
  • Post your flyer, brochure, or business card on bulletin boards everywhere: In grocery stores, coffee shops, Laundromats, car washes, and bookstores.
  • Offer classes in writing to your local high school, college, or library system. Publicizing them is easy and free. When appropriate, use your own book as suggested reading. The organization you are helping will pitch in by promoting your class. The network you build with them and your students is invaluable. Use this experience in your media kit to show you have teaching and presentation skills.
  • Slip auto-mailers into each book you sell or give away for publicity. Automailers are envelopes that are pre-stamped, ready to go. Your auto mailer asks the recipient to recommend your book to someone else. Your mailer includes a brief synopsis of your book, a picture of the cover of your book, your book’s ISBN, ordering information, a couple of your most powerful blurbs, and a space for the reader to add her handwritten, personal recommendation. Make it clear in the directions that the reader should fill out the form, address the envelope, and mail it to a friend. You may offer a free gift for helping out, but don’t make getting the freebie too tough. Proof-of-purchase type schemes discourage your audience from participating.
  • Send notes to your friends and readers asking them to recommend your book to others. Or offer them a perk like free shipping, gift wrap, or small gift if they purchase your book for a friend. That’s an ideal way to use those contact lists you’ve been building.
  • While you’re working on the suggestion above, put on your thinking cap. What directories have you neglected to incorporate into your contact list? Have you joined any new groups since your book was published? Did you ask your grown children for lists of their friends? Did you include lists of old classmates?
  • Though it may be a bit more expensive than some ideas in this book, learn more about Google’s AdWords and AdSense and Facebook's ad program. Many authors of niche nonfiction or fiction that can be identified with often-searched-for keywords find this advertising program effective.
  • Check out ad programs like Amazon’s Vine review service. You agree to provide a certain number of books to Amazon and pay them a fee for the service. Amazon arranges the reviews for you. It’s expensive, but it gets your book exposed to Amazon’s select cadre of reviewers who not only write reviews for your Amazon sales page but also may start (or restart!) a buzz about your book.
  • Some of your reviews (both others’ reviews of your book and reviews you’ve written about others’ books) have begun to age from disuse. Start posting them (with permission from the reviewer) on Web sites that allow you to do so. Check the guidelines for my free review service blog at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com.
  • Connect and reconnect. Start reading blogs and newsletters you once subscribed to again. Subscribe to a new one. Join a writers’ group or organization related to the subject of your book.
  • Record a playful message about your book on your answering machine.
  • When you ship signed copies of your book, include a coupon for the purchase of another copy for a friend—signed and dedicated—or for one of your other books. Some distributors insert fliers or coupons into your books when they ship them for a fee.
  • Adjust the idea above to a cross-promotional effort with a friend who writes in the same genre as you. He puts a coupon for your book in his shipments; you do the same for him in yours.
  • Explore the opportunities for speaking on cruise ships. Many have cut back on the number of speakers they use, but your area of expertise may be perfect for one of them. I tried it, but found ship politics a drawback. Still, many authors like Allyn Evans who holds top honors in Toastmasters and Erica Miner have used these venues successfully. For help with the application process from beginning to end, contact Daniel Hall at speakerscruisefree.com.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson has been promoting her own books and helping clients promote theirs for more than a decade. Her marketing plan for the 2nd in the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers, The Frugal Editor)won the New Millennium Award for Marketing. The second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter is a USA Book News award winner and was given the coveted Irwin Award from Book Publicists of Southern California (BPSC). Her most recent, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically was released in December. Learn more about Carolyn and her books of fiction and poetry that helped her learn more about what kinds of marketing work best for writers at www.howtodoitfrugally.com. or at her Amazon profile, http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile.

 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Your Characters Speak Your Language


  
One of the most difficult accomplishments in writing is to get a certain character’s dialect and accent correct.
When you include foreign characters in your story, it’s imperative that your reader know they have an accent relative to the country or locale from which they hail.
Be attentive to these nuances or all your characters will sound like you. An author who is not a linguist or grammarian may have a certain limited capability at using the English language. Without expanding your knowledge or simply using a Thesaurus, you will find yourself repeating the same words and phrases over and over.
Let’s take the example of a foreign accent. Your character’s manner of speech will be greatly affected by the way you describe that person and the nuances of the country of their birth. Say you’ve set up your character as being from France. Maybe he dresses in fine French clothes, is real dapper and has European table manners. Beyond that, have him use French phrases like mon cherie in the course of his dialogue.
Foreign phrases you attach to your character should be fairly well known to the general public. These phrases both immediately give the reader the character’s flavor of speech; it also lets the reader skim smoothly over the foreign phrase by imagining an accent, and stay in the story.
Including a phrase that not too many people have heard makes the reader pause to try to understand. That is something you do not want to happen.
When writing in English, the author must still assure that all characters have their own manner of speaking.
A cowboy has a laid-back southern drawl, as in “I ain’t into office work,  ma’am. I ride horses.” Can you hear him speak?
The African man who made it to the Olympics has an Nigerian accent that no one understands. Yet, when he’s marching with all the other athletes, carrying his country’s flag and yells his country’s motto while pumping a fist into the air, we know exactly what he means.
The Latino from south of the border speaks broken English interspersed with his home area colloquialisms and politely calls women Senora or Senorita.
These are but a few examples of unique characters who must sound different. Each would be enhanced by the way the author introduces them into the story.
The cowboy always wears boots, even with a tuxedo.
The African man plays his drums because he misses home, but doesn’t want to miss a chance at the Olympics either.
The Latino does his own cooking because he can’t get real authentic south-of-the-border cooking at a restaurant.
When you develop your characters well, many times, even their simplest conversations will appear to the reader as being spoken with some sort of accent or brogue.

Never overlook that once you set up the special characters that people your story, their dialogue must follow suit. You must set your characters apart, not only in mannerisms and such, but in their dialogues. Otherwise all your characters will sound like you, the author, and will speak the same language as you.


Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*


Friday, July 14, 2017

Author Intrusion




Author intrusion is something I saw a bit of in new writers’ manuscripts when I did a lot of editing.

A story is usually told through the mind of one or more characters. It’s known as the story’s point of view (POV). (Also see the article Choosing a Point of View above in The Parts) The reader is only allowed to know what the point of view character perceives and experiences internally.

Here’s a correct sentence written through a character’s mind, told in 3rd Person POV:

~ Sara watched with nerves on edge, unsure of what she was seeing.

Now told using author intrusion:

~ If we look at Sara, we see that she is hesitant about getting involved.

In the 3rd Person POV, we are in Sara’s mind experiencing hesitation with her.
In the author intrusion example, the author stopped the story to speak directly to the reader, telling the reader what Sara experiences, instead of letting the reader be Sara.
In the past, many stories were told in this manner. The author seemed to speak directly to the reader, or as if the writer were addressing a group of people. This method of storytelling has become passé. Readers want to become their favorite characters and experience with them and not simply be told by a narrator.
Author intrusion is easily avoided if the writer stays in the mind of the point of view character. The character will not stop the story to speak to the readers.


Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery: http://www.MaryDealFineArt.com
Gift Gallery: zazzle.com/IslandImageGallery*



Sunday, July 9, 2017

DAMSELFLIES AND DRAGONFLIES


 
A dragonfly
rests upon a wooden dock
in restive purple sunlight.
Gossamer wings
spread out in beauty.
A damsel-flies by,
perches nearby,
wings folded.


 by

Patricia Crandall 

GOOD READING AND MARIA VON TRAPP by Patricia Crandall

Many of the poets and authors I read in the small press should be on top of the pile rather than a number of the best-selling authors I...