Can you help me? My virtual book tour conundrum

Let’s put it out there. Brick-and-mortar book tours for indie authors (without a massive grassroots following) can be a waste of time. Say you can carry an event crowd-wise. Most stores want around 55% of your retail price. They ring the register, keep your money, and cut you a 45% check 30 days later. Unless it’s Borders, in which case it might as well be the Heart of the Ocean from Titanic. 

Yeah, it happened to me.

Going “virtual” means finding an agency (shout out to Tywebbin Creations) to arrange for reviews. Or, you DIY and send advanced copies of your book to bloggers around the country hoping you’ll become the next Amanda Hocking. Will they review it? Maybe, maybe not. There are no guarantees. 

Which brings me to a dilemma for my next book, Sophomore Freak. I DIY-ed it with The Anarchists and Reject High to mixed results and went traditional with The Lost Testament and The Revelation Gatealso to varied outcomes. What would you do?

 

Here’s an idea: HOW you can get to 100 Beta Readers

Last time, we talked about Beta Readers (a test audience for a book) and their importance.

Boy, are they important.

Too often, you get the “do-this-and-it-will-work-for-you” and not the how. Like, “Get 100 Beta Readers.” You know 100 people, but they may not want to sit down, read your book, and rate your chapters, right?

My friend Lisa said she needed to start from the ground up. Here’s what I did and I guarantee it’ll work for you.

I have a friend, Adrienne, who is totally on my team. No matter how long you’ve been writing, there’s one person you can count on to be on your side. If not, e-mail me. I’ll be your person or help you find one!

Adrienne’s bought all four of my books and she works for a high school (my target market — score!). Identify your target market (the people you’ve written your book for) and find someone well-connected in it.

By chance, she hands my book to a student we’ll call “Tee” and says, “Read it, and if you like it, rate it on Amazon.”

“Tee” read Reject High in one day, loved it, and immediately wanted to read more. She became a Beta Reader. I asked her to recruit some other Beta Readers for me, and she’s uncovered six in one week.

Recap: Start with one person in your target market who’s enthusiastic about your work. Leverage their connections to help you get other people involved. They have to be excited about what you’re doing. Be aggressive and persistent, but friendly as you go. Hope this helps!

 

Digital Books: The Price Is Wrong

I went to the store and almost bought the second season of Superman: The Animated Series. Not for my five-year-old, for me.

Don’t judge me — I have a bigger point to make about it.

The reason why I didn’t buy it is because I saw the price, paused, and thought about it. You never  want a consumer to do that. Logically, you want their interest plus access to the money for purchase to equal an actual purchase.

If they have to think about it, chances are you’ve lost the sale. In a former life, I used to sell men’s suits. The “I’ll-be-back-to-buy-it” folks are looking for something — a lower price, a cheaper product — but whatever it is, you don’t have it.

Recently, I read a blog where the author advised against pricing your e-books at .99 cents. Yes, it worked for Amanda Hocking, Darcy Chan, and a number of other authors. But he said it devalues your work to price it that low, and he’s right. I’ve seen a bunch of books priced .99 cents and they looked like they shouldn’t have cost any more than .99 cents.

This is a group I do not want to belong to, and neither should you.

Instead, experiment with your pricing and watch your sales numbers. Find a price point where your buyers don’t pause and think about it, and your numbers stay the same. Stick with what works.

Hope this helps!

Paying for reviews: Worth it or not?

With my most recent novel, Reject HighI sunk a sizable chunk of my advertising budget to pay for a Kirkus indie review.

Before you skeptically look at your screen, let me tell you: I have tried a lot of different marketing ideas. For my first novel, The Lost Testament, I hired a PR person, held a book release party, and did a few TV and Blogtalk radio interviews. With The Revelation Gate, I paid for a blog tour and sent out paperback ARC’s. Last year, I mailed out t-shirts and used Pinterest to publicize The Anarchists in conjunction with electronic ARC’s.

With all of those, I spent considerably more than the $425 I paid Kirkus to review my book.

The results of my previous efforts were mixed. A good ROI (Return OF Investment) is to see a considerable bump in sales due to my efforts. Of course, there’s no concrete way to correlate the two. Book marketing is a formula: effective efforts + timing + God’s favor (you might call it luck or the universe) = MASSIVE SALES.

So, was it worth it? Kind of, sort of.

After your review is complete, Kirkus offers you a chance to “publicize” your review in online and print media. Of course, there’s a cost (somewhere north of $1,000) for it. That might be worth it and it might not, but I’m not doing it.

Also, if you want to use a part of their review on your book, you have to publish it, good, bad, or ugly, on their website first. What if your review was lukewarm or they trashed it? You excerpt what they said (they don’t allow you to add words) and pray nobody goes looking for the full critique.

My advice? If you’re going to pay for a review, you can’t put all of your eggs in just that basket. Supplement it by aggressively soliciting Amazon reviews from your faithful readers, book bloggers and reviewers, like Cyrus Webb of Conversations Radio, and book clubs. I’d also go grassroots and advertise on high traffic sites too.

Hope this helps!

 

Plotting: I’m a believer. Are you?

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m in the midst of writing my sixth manuscript. It’s the third in my Reject High teen series.

I got stuck. Like all four wheels spinning helplessly in the mud stuck.

I didn’t want to try writing out my plot.

For my first three novels, I created my characters, wound them up and let them go. My major plot points were a function of their behaviors. While I knew where they were going and how it would end up, I let them guide me through the “how.”

With this book, it was just different. I couldn’t do that anymore. My characters were letting me down (they’re teenagers, so there’s that).

So, I turned off my cellphone and iPad, stepped away from my laptop and started writing with my main character, Jason. Once I finished his arc, I worked on his love interest. Three hours later, the entire plot was done.

I’d never thought I’d say so, but I’m a believer in sketching out plots on paper now. Are you? What’s your process?

Writing teenagers in love is hard when your teenage experience sucked

I write what I know. For the most part, that results in layered characters that people fall in love with or hate. 

On the other hand, there’s writing teenagers, which I have to work hard at doing, especially when they’re in love..

I was TERRIBLE in teenage relationships. I can’t tell you much about my first love because she might actually read my blog and protest or worse, tell her version of events.

Let’s just say she knows who she is and leave it at that.

I’m currently writing a love story for my protagonist in my Reject High teen series and he’s trying to figure out if he’s in love or just “in serious like.”

For years, I thought I was in love when I said it the first time. Then, I realized it wasn’t love any other time but one far later than I thought. Think back with me: how could you tell the difference between love and “like” as a teenager?

Reject High Cover Photo

Here you are, my friends. I wanted to share it with you first. What do you think? Would you read it? Okay, okay, ARE you going to read it?

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