Making Social Work for You

An interview with Bestselling KWL Author Maggie Shayne

For self-pub authors, social media can be either a best friend or worst enemy. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr—all of these are valuable resources for writers as they attempt to spread the word about their latest works and connect with an audience. Without a clear social media strategy however, these same platforms can become a major source of procrastination.

Eternal+Love_+The+Immortal+Witch+Series

So what, if any, is the “right” way to make social media work for you? To answer this question we enlisted the help of Maggie Shayne, the self-pub author and social media dynamo behind the Immortal Witches trilogy and a handful of other dark and steamy reads.

What moves the dial? Does a “like” turn into a purchase, a fan, or an ambassador for you? Is this what writers should be aiming for?

What moves the dial is personal and sincere interaction with the fans. Don’t try to sell to them. Just be there, talking about normal stuff the way you’d talk to your friends and having a good time. Share challenges within reason (never become a public complainer, it’s unbecoming) and share how you deal with them, too. Let people know you’re a real human being with a life a lot like theirs, and that you care about them. You can’t fake that. That has to come from a real place inside you. You can’t measure the payback of this sort of thing in numbers of sales. I think long term, it’s more karmic. The more people smile when they think of you, the better your life is going to be. It’s about making other people feel they are important and worthy of your time. That’s what it is at the heart of it.

How much time do you spend on social daily? What social media platforms do you use?

I’m mainly a Facebook girl. I have a Maggie Shayne page, a Wings in the Night page. I also use Twitter quite a bit, and have been dipping my toes into Instagram and Pinterest. I blog at MaggiesBlissBlog.com . I spend anywhere from an hour to two hours online each day, but it’s fun for me. It needn’t be that time-intensive.

What is an effective social media strategy for an eBook author? What is simple timewasting?

For me, the most effective strategy is having fun. If you hate doing something, it’s never going to be effective. If you don’t enjoy social media, don’t use it. Everything in life is like this. If we trusted our gut feelings more, we’d be far better off. Have fun with it. That way if it works, bonus.

Who if any, are some other socially active authors that you think set a good example?

Susan Mallery. OMG, she’s the Goddess of Facebook. And Christine Feehan, who has her own freaking message boards, like a mini Facebook all its own at ChristineFeehan.net, these folks make me look like a rank beginner. (Not too rank, I hope.) ;)

Have you ever had a memorable interaction with a reader over social media?

A reader had a doomed pregnancy. She was told to have an abortion because the baby wouldn’t survive anyway, and if she tried to carry the child, she wouldn’t make it either. This reader read EDGE OF TWILIGHT, a book with a doomed pregnancy and a miracle ending. The way the book came to her, she was sure it was a sign. (I am, too.) Someone gave it to her to cheer her up, not even knowing the subject matter. Anyway, the mom decided it was a sign, and she carried the baby to term. Her little girl was born healthy. All are still doing well today. I treasure the email I got from her.

I’ve had lots of others. Readers email me for advice, or during challenging times for encouragement, and I’m always there for them.

maggieShayne_photoCheck out Maggie Shayne:

At her website: http://maggieshayne.com/

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieShayneAuthor

On Kobo! View Maggie’s books: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/Search?Query=maggie+shayne

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/maggieshayne

 

Other Helpful Resources:

How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/how-to-market-a-book

The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue by Shama Kabani http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/the-zen-of-social-media-marketing-1

 

Author Branding & Revamping Your Website & Image

Three years ago, almost to the day, I made the smartest decision I’ve ever made. Before you ask, no I did not decide to forgo a unicorn wrestling match (I know that was your first thought); no, I began my first website, E-book Revolution (http://ebookrevolution.com.au).

A very ugly Blogger blog that had all the finesse of a monster truck and kind of looked like a five year old had drawn a very boring picture with crayon on a brown paper bag.

E-book Revolution blog old

When I first started I didn’t really know what I was about. I was in my ‘teenage’ blogging phase, the years where you kind of know the stuff you like, and the things you want to talk about, but you hadn’t quite found the path that fit the personality. When I first started I knew I didn’t have the skill to blog about my fiction writing, but I was great at investigating, at pulling apart the things people did (often via instinct) and figuring out how they worked. Like a mechanic for ideas.

Back when I first dived into creating my author platform Amazon hadn’t opened its doors to Australian authors, Smashwords was just getting started and Kobo was a name I thought I heard once whispered in a dark alley by a leprechaun. Not really an expert at anything I did my best imitation of a triple somersault dive and descended into the depths of learning.

So the blog grew, with its cobbled together Logo in Microsoft Paint and font colours that didn’t quite match the theme. It grew from a site that explored how to throw off the oppressive cloak of publisher rejections, to a site that looked forward to digital experiments, taking control of your publishing, and (eventually) how to write a magnificent book.

In three years the blog had grown out of its teenage years, and the message it conveyed with its pixelated pimples of mismatched colour no longer fitted where I was. I now had a job in the publishing industry, I hold workshops teaching writers to be indie authors, I was being asked to talk around Australia, and I had a site that didn’t exactly scream professional. It kind of screamed ‘boring’.

So as it approached the blog’s third anniversary I decided it was time for the outside wrappings to look like the inside, and starting on the 4th of April I am running a week long website relaunch to celebrate, complete with a shiny new digital home, logo, and seven days worth of prizes! In fact it’s going right now! (http://ebookrevolution.com.au)

In the wake of these months of hard work I’ve done what I do best, broken down the process so that people can see how it works.

So here are my five tips on author branding and revamping your website and blog:

1: Why You Should Rebrand

It doesn’t matter how careful you were at picking your original template and banner art, how much time you spent agonising over the whether you wanted your headings fuchsia or fluoro green, chances are that if you’ve put together your author platform more than two years ago, times have changed. Not only have design trends changed, but what interests you, what entertains you, what you talk about while blogging, and what you share, has morphed into an entirely new polka-dotted beast.

You may write in more than one genre now, or you may have found the topic you first started with didn’t strike a chord with your audience, but as soon as you started posting pictures of My Little Ponies in compromising positions your website statistics skyrocketed.

Writers do not stay static; we trade in ideas and imaginings.

So the question you’ve got to ask yourself is, does my site still match my message and who I am? Because if it doesn’t, then you may find you’re not attracting the size of audience you should.

2: What Does That Involve?

Basically asking yourself a stupid amount of questions. Get a piece of paper and go back to your original posts: What did you talk about, what were the themes, what got the most interest from visitors? Then compare it to your posts and social media sharings over the last six months: What themes and topics do I cover now, what do people care about in 2014? How does that change in tone and topic match the images and colours on your website? Does your current status, celebrity, or career level, reflect in the layout?

The ultimate are-you-ashamed test is to ask yourself if you would be happy paying $10,000 to stick you logo or website banner three stories high on the side of a building. Does the thought make you twitch? Then that tells you how you feel about your logo today. Hand your logo or website banner around to family, friends, and people you meet in the park walking your dog. Ask them what they think when they look at it, what is it saying to them, does anything turn them off?

Ebook Reolution Logoe-book-revolution-logo-largest

                  Old logo                   New Logo

Finally, articulate in a paragraph what you are about now, and what your message is. Start going through Google images and websites of authors similar to you and start collecting all the images that appeal to you in a document. This is what you’ll use for your base line rebranding.

3: Recreating Yourself

Sorry guys, but this is where you have to come out of the world in your head and take part in some good old fashioned collaboration.

You are not the best judge of you!

Unfortunately writers are not the most subjective bunch of creatives (helloooo editors!) and we need professional help and a fresh perspective. Rebranding involves revamping your website, logos, and tag lines. You saw my old blog above, and below is an image of my new website.

E-book Revolution New Blog

I had already pulled together images of sites I admired and my new tag line (E-books, marketing and digital experiments – helping you bring your stories to the world ) from the previous step before I began approaching designers. There was a web designer friends had worked with in the past who made amazing WordPress sites that you could add to and run without any need for all those silly ‘maintenance fees’ that IT companies charge these days. She was the one who linked my pre-existing book cover to my new logo, and once the logo and highlight colours were decided she then moved on to make sure that the website matched the lot.

She was so amazing I actually invited her to write a post on Author Branding for my website relaunch. You can read it here (http://ebookrevolution.com.au/?p=759) and it will be live from Saturday the 5th of April.

You may find that you can get an all in one package like me, or that you need to hire a graphic designer first before bringing the logo to the web designer. Either way make sure you get a list of fonts and colour hues used so that when you are doing a sneaky alteration in Microsoft Paint, that you get it right.

4: Reconnecting With Your Audience:

Take your new stomping ground as an opportunity to have fun! What have you always wanted to add but never done?What information do you have already that you can now repurpose and help you connect with a new audience. Make it easier for them to do their crash course and then join you at the level you are now?

When I first started E-book Revolution I talked about really basic concepts and step-by-step processes to help authors get up and running in the digital space, but three years on I am way passed those beginner topics and rarely cover them. What a missed opportunity to connect with a new person! I am missing out on a whole audience who, if I pointed them to those original articles, would be up to speed and get so much more out of what I post now. Just because they didn’t happen to dive in the deep end at the same time as me.

So in the new version of my website I have resource sheets (http://ebookrevolution.com.au/start-here/) that list all of the most popular questions and blog posts on Marketing, Publishing and writing, so that writers who are starting out can find what they need, and those who have followed me from the beginning don’t have to read what they already know.

5: How to Gain Traction

Make it a party! When I originally started the blog I posted every day for 31 days straight. I wanted to build up momentum (and obviously had some unfulfilled need to punish myself) and that was the best way I could think of to do that. And it worked surprisingly well, I got over half the subscriptions to my newsletter because of that first, month long sprint. But as the three years went on that momentum slowed, in part I think because of the DIY feel of my site, which three years ago was fine, but these days was neglectful.

The website revamp was the perfect opportunity to reconnect, recharge and take advantage of the connections I’ve built over the past three years. So my recommendations for gaining traction include:

  • Like launching an ebook, extend the launch of your site over the course of a week. It is only through multiple connections that you can make an impression.
  • Have some great content, not only from yourself but people within your network. Use the launch as a way to build connections with your colleagues as well as your audience. Building a community, and presenting quality information helps you build trust for the years ahead.
  • Give people who don’t know you a reason to drop by! Information is all well and good but giving away prizes that are relevant to your audience is even better. At my launch I am giving away multi-media courses, a set of 6 writers guides from Chuck Wendig, a Kobo ereader, and a swag bag of books on indie publishing by some of the best indies around, just to name a few. All appropriate for my audience; writers and independent publishers.
  • Don’t just let them all go once the launch has ended! Don’t do all of this work and hope that people will continue to visit your site. Get people to sign up for a newsletter, that way you have a way of contacting them directly. I give away a free 1hr crash course on the E-book Revolution and a workbook on Writing a Killer Blurb to anyone who signs up for my newsletter. Not only do they get some great free information, but I am able to contact them in the future about any new book releases or events.

Emily_Craven_1Emily Craven is an author, speaker and innovator and runs the website E-book Revolution where she discovers writing, publishing and new ideas. Her website relaunch is running from the 4th- 10th of April with some great prizes for indie authors, check it out (www.ebookrevolution.com.au). Emily is the author of the non-fiction book ‘E-book Revolution: The Ultimate Guide To E-book Success’ (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/e-book-revolution-the-ultimate-guide-to-e-book-success) , and the comedy ‘The Grand Adventures Of Madeline Cain’ (http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-grand-adventures-of-madeline-cain-photographer-extraordinaire) written as though you are reading the main character’s Facebook Page.

 

 

 

5 Ways to Optimize Your Crowdfunding Campaign

By Daniel Baylis

When I decided to publish my book (The Traveller) independently, I knew I would have to get serious about crowdfunding. The process of leveraging funds from my online community became a step in the publishing process that was as inherent as designing a book cover. Overall, my campaign was very successful, garnering more than 200% of my target goal. Why is that? Well, I applied a selection of key tactics to make sure my campaign would be successful.

Here are five lessons that I have learned about crowdfunding.

Start planning early. I began doing research into what makes a great crowdfunding campaign six weeks before I intended to launch my own. This entailed scouring other campaign pages, watching other videos, reading other writers’ campaign pitches, and analyzing how campaigners communicated their “rewards.” Then I essentially pillaged their ideas and drew up a shortlist of my favourites. If you want to go deeper, Indiegogo offers a Field Guide and Kickstarter offers a School. These tools are free. Use them.

Make an awesome video. If you don’t have the skills to do this yourself, hire someone. On most crowdfunding platforms, the first thing a potential funder will see is your video. Think of it as your storefront. A quality video will be worth the investment. Bonus tip: Keep it under three minutes — the Internet does not have time for wordiness.

Communicate creatively. On the first day of your campaign, you’re allowed to explicitly say “Please support my campaign!” But by Day 30, nobody in your network is going to want to hear your tired plea. You’ll need to spice it up. Try creating campaign-related content that had an implicit request for support. For instance, every few days I featured a photograph of funder and had them explain why they chose to support the campaign. Go ahead, steal my idea, but come up with your own, too!

Be realistic with your goal. It’s tempting to apply the old adage: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!” But when it comes to crowdfunding, that’s not the strategy you want to employ. Read these words: DON’T SHOOT FOR THE STARS. Ask for the amount that you feel absolutely confident you can get. If you reach that goal, be prepared to encourage additional funding with stretch goals — further objectives that communicate what you’ll do with more money. Remember that campaigns stay online forever. Your name will be attached to it. What type of cyber footprint do you want to create? I’ll answer that question for you: One that reeks of success.

Say “Thank You.” This might be an obvious one, but it needs to be highlighted. For every single funder that gave to my campaign — there were 253 people — I issued a personalized thank-you email. This might sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be a long note. A simple personalized acknowledgement goes a long way. Think of it this way: You’re not just selling a book; you’re building a personal brand. Care what people think of you.

daniel baylisDaniel Baylis is a writer and adventurer. In 2011, he spent the entire year travelling around the world, visiting a different country each month and engaging in a variety of volunteer positions. Upon returning to his homebase in Canada, Baylis wrote a book about his journey and crowdfunded many of the expenses of his book on Indiegogo. In September, his campaign was fully funded in less than three days and went on to earn more than 200% of the initial target goal. Baylis’ book, The Traveller: Notes from an Imperfect Journey Around the World, is now available on Kobo. He politely invites you to buy it — and read it.

Shelf Help Podcast – Episode 001 with Ben Galley

What is self-publishing? What are its benefits? In the first episode of The Shelf Help Guide to Self-Publishing, author Ben Galley discusses why you should go indie, and explains how he can help you publish your book.

A TRULY COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO PUBLISHING Ben Galley Book Cover

Confused and bamboozled by the wide world of self-publishing? Written a book but have no idea how to get it onto shelves? Disillusioned by traditional publishing and want something better? Well, you’re in the right place. Shelf Help is the brand new and comprehensive guide to becoming a professional indie author.

This forthcoming handy little pocket guide will tell you in great detail exactly how to go from manuscript to royalty cheque. With Shelf Help, you’ll learn how to self-publish the DIY way – retaining all your rights, royalties, and utter creative control whilst keeping it cheap, quick, and above all, professional.

UnknownAt 26, Ben Galley is a young self-published author from sunny England. He is the author of the epic and gritty fantasy series – The Emaneska Series. He has published four books to date, and doesn’t intend to stop any time soon.

Ben is incredibly zealous about inspiring other authors and writers. He runs the popular advice site Shelf Help, where he offers advice about writing, publishing, and marketing.

If you want to know more, Ben can be found being loquacious and attempting to be witty on Twitter (@BenGalley) or at his website – www.bengalley.com.

Here’s The Secret To Self-Publishing Success: Do The Work

When Kobo Writing Life Director Mark Lefebvre has been speaking to authors lately, he has regularly recommended they all check out a great new book.

writepublishrepeatWrite. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant & David Wright is a solid and well-rounded book that outlines what it takes to be successful in self-publishing,” Lefebvre says.  “One of the things I love best about this book is that it doesn’t make false promises. Instead, the authors repeat (and it definitely bears repeating) the fact that making a living off of writing takes a LOT of work, a lot of hard work. And that it takes time. And patience. Their book beautifully illustrates this through the authors’ own examples.”

Lefebvre has mentioned this book during recent talks to author groups in the east in Toronto and New York and in the west in cities such as  Seattle, Portland and Colorado Springs. He says he’ll likely continue to mention that authors read this book because it offers a comprehensive look at one simple fact; that there is no secret trick, except for writing a great book and keeping at it.

“When I talk to writers,” Lefebvre says, “I usually offer what I call The Three P’s of Self-Publishing Success.  Patience, Practice and Persistence. Keep writing, every day and never stop working at becoming better at the craft. Hang in there, because this isn’t a short-term game, but a long one that takes time, a lot of time.  And one of the best ways to sell your first book is to write your next book rather than losing time focusing on how to sell and market your first book.  Your target audience, if you understand who they are, takes time to grow; and the best thing you can give them is more great writing. These guys get it, and that’s part of the book’s main message. The message is that there is no secret or trick. There is strategy, for sure, but this book isn’t about tactics or gimmicks. It preaches an important element consistent in self-publishing success stories. Do the work.”

A writer himself, Lefebvre has read dozens of books on the craft and business of writing and publishing.  “And this one goes to the top of the list for relevant content,” he says.  But he’s not the only advocate. The book has been well received around the world. J.F. Penn (speaker, mastermind behind the amazing writer resource The Creative Penn and author of The Arkane Thrillers says:  “I’ve read a lot of books about writing, and this one stands out as being both practical and aspirational.”  Speaker, editor and thought leader Jane Friedman says, “It’s tough to find more honest and straight-forward marketing advice than what you’ll get from these indie authors.”

Lefebvre interviewed both Platt & Wright (who have written multiple serialized thrillers such as Yesterday’s Gone and Available Darkness) as well as Truant (author of Fat Vampire and co-author with Platt of The Beam) for the Kobo Writing Life Podcast in Episode 3 and Episode 8 respectively. Lefebvre jokes that while The Self-Publishing Podcast that Truant, Platt & Wright host (which Lefebvre is a fan of) is definitely not safe for work due to some four letter words the three occasionally pepper in their impassioned discussions about writing and publishing, “the guys all managed kept it clean and 100% on topic for the KWL interviews”)

Check out Write. Publish. Repeat at Kobo.

Top 50 sites for indie and self-published authors

Indie50_2If you’re not following the blog of author August Wainwright (first: why not?, and second: you should!), you may have missed his Indie 50 list, the fifty best sites for indie and self-published authors. What you’ll find there is a wealth of resources that’s truly invaluable.

The list is both searchable and fully sortable. You can sort by rank, alphabetically, or by category. There’s quite a bit of overlap for some sites as far as categories go, but I’ve attempted to put each site into 1 of 5 categories :

Self-Publishing, Writing Process, Resource, Social, and Industry/News.

Read the whole blog post to see his reasoning and criteria for the list, and make special note of item #25.

Visit August’s blog here.

Follow him on Twitter: @acwainwright

Eat your broccoli, just one more bite: Three simple writing tricks for increased productivity

by Steve Vernon

I used to run.

That was back before my belt started to shrink.

I specialized in long distance running. I could go for twenty miles in a morning run.

Back then I ran like a gazelle. These days I sort of wobble along like a pregnant moose.

I’m not saying that it’s pretty.

I had a system – a simple little Jedi mind trick that kept me running when my feet were talking stop. I’d tell myself that I was just going to run to that next telephone pole.

That’s all I need to do I’d tell myself. I just need to get to that next telephone pole but once I made it to that telephone pole I’d look on down the road and I’d tell myself that I just needed to get to that NEXT telephone pole.

I learned that technique from my woodworking instructor, Lawrence Richards, who told me a story about how he used to get through the day at his job in the Lunenburg Brass Foundry – where he was paid to cut wooden wedges for shimming. That was all he did. He stood at a table saw, using a jig that cut each board at the proper angle – with a big wooden barrel at the end of the table saw that would catch the wedges as he cut them.

He was paid a nickel a wedge – and that was how he got through his day: counting the nickels as each wedge hit the barrel.

Five cents, ten cents, fifteen cents…

I can relate to that. When I started writing I wrote for small press magazines that paid by the word. A lot of markets still do. And while it is highly impractical to sit at my keyboard and count each word as a nickel I can still relate to that whole wedge barrel analogy.

At the end of the day a writer is nothing more than a fellow standing at one end of a table saw, cutting out chunks of his imagination and dropping them into a barrel. If you want the boss – the reading public – to keep you around and keep reading you – you better keep that barrel full!

Face it. There are ALWAYS days when your inner muse says “To heck with all of this writing foolishness – I’d just as soon go and watch an old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie”.

That’s when I tell myself – just write one sentence.

That’s all it takes – mostly. I write that one sentence and it is bound to lead to another – and I can go back to counting nickels.

Just one more sentence.

If you’re REALLY serious about this writing business the first thing you have to realize is that writing is a life-long sentence. One sentence after another – one story after another – and each of them starts with just a single sentence.

And then another.

If that doesn’t work – here’s two more simple tricks.

Use this calender shot (3)Hang a calendar on the wall. Scratch an X on the calendar on the day that you write one thousand words of actual writing. Use a bright red marker. The brighter the better.

Do that every day. Those blank days – the days when you didn’t write – will stand out. They’ll haunt you. They will guilt-trip you into sitting down and taking that single necessary hour to rattle out a thousand more words.

Keep that red chain running.

Here’s another trick for you.

This one involves a cooking timer. It looks like a plastic tomato. I set it to tick for an hour. I let that silly little plastic tomato tick on – and while it is ticking I do NOTHING but write on my manuscript.

I don’t check my e-mail.

I don’t check my Facebook.

I don’t even freaking Tweet!

When it goes “ding” I stop writing.

Oddly enough, by the time that goes ding, I usually have a thousand or so words.

I do that for two to three months steady and I have a full length book.

It still needs to be edited. It still needs to be revised.

But in three months – a thousand-freaking-words an hour and I have a fair-sized novel.

Use This One (3)All it takes is a red plastic tomato cooking timer, one calendar, and one tomato-red marker.

That’s all I’ve got for you this month.

I’m not going to make you read one more sentence.

So what are you waiting for?

Start your tomatoes.

Get ready, set, WRITE!!!

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About the author

steve vernonSteve Vernon is Canadian author who writes horror, science-fiction, YA, and even a children’s picture book.  He lives with his wife and cat in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Check out his blog: Yours In Storytelling.

Check out his books on Kobo.

Music for telling stories – The Undercover Soundtrack

By Roz Morris

So we sit down, wake the laptop, flex knuckles, put on headphones… and begin.

What’s going into our ears? Something pure like birdsong? Something contemplative and thoughtful for the earnest business of noveling?

Not necessarily. It might just as easily be grinding guitars and ripping vocals.

My blog series The Undercover Soundtrack has been going for 18 months now, and nearly 70 writers have shared the music that helped them invent and hone their novels. They come from all genres, from the profoundly literary to the brashly teen.

Soundtracks
Undercover Soundtracks are not the songs their characters like. They are writers’ secret ingredients, meditative antechambers where they can study their characters’ true natures or conjure an atmosphere. They are intensely private worlds where writers uncensor and pour out their souls.

It all started when I was launching my first novel, My Memories of a Future Life. The story is set in the world of classical music, so there were key pieces that were important to the character. But under that was a deep-level score that probably no reader was aware of. It wasn’t necessarily the classical pieces that the character played. It was tracks that put me in the right mood, or grabbed me from the radio and told me the meaning of a moment. A scene would change forever once I found its music, and I could play it over and over to freeze time and examine it. I wrote about this for my blog and suddenly thought: what if I could find other writers who did this?

I found plenty. They are everywhere.

All genres

They are poets. Dan Holloway searched for nostalgia and directionlessness. Dave Malone wrote about dirty dealings, the macabre and shadow.

They are children’s and YA writers. Nick Green told how he conjured an entire plot out of one song by Jon & Vangelis. Nicola Morgan drummed up the tumult of teenhood by drenching herself in Coldplay until her family yelled ‘Noooooooo’.  They are thriller writers. James Scott Bell has soundtracks for plotting and motivation, Joni Rodgers whirled up a hurricane (literally) with ZZ Top. Ruby Barnes used Melody Gardot to understand lunatics in love. They are contemporary women’s writers. Erika Marks played Billie Holiday for a smoky seduction. Mary Vensel White created bittersweet homecoming with the Steve Miller Band.

They are literary novelists of all stripes. Consuelo Roland listened to Ziggy Marley and created a funeral director moonlighting as a guitarist. Linda Gillard scored a hit with readers when she explained how a Philip Glass piece rescued her novel’s structure.

Time and place

Some soundtracks are historically literal. Award-winning children’s author  Katherine Langrish chose the troubadour songs of the 12th century for her tale of lost love. Ellie Stevenson found possibly the last song ever played on RSS Titanic for her novel about the doomed ship. Erika Robuck evoked 1930s Cuba with Cole Porter.

Indeed many writers, regardless of period, get a kick out of Cole. Other favourites are Seal and JS Bach. (There’s probably a joke in there.) But what they do with them are as individual as the writers. Even if they choose the same song, it will have a different meaning.

Words

Some writers find lyrics are unbearably intrusive. Others give themselves to the emotion, as though the words weren’t there at all. Once a song enters a book’s landscape, it means whatever the writer wants. While I was writing My Memories of a Future Life, a perfectly famous song ambushed me from the radio and it was as if I noticed it for the first time.

Some writers have blurred the boundaries even further. Jessica Bell, Grigory Ryzhakov and Nathan Singer have all composed some of their own soundtracks, which they then release with the books. And for my own novel’s first anniversary, I tracked down two musicians who create music inspired by their favourite authors: SJ Tucker, who works with Catherynne M Valente, and Beth Rudetsky – who writes bespoke character-driven songs for authors’ book trailers. Other contributors cheerfully – or ruefully – admit they can’t read a note yet they find that music makes fundamental sense.

Genre boundaries disappear

We all have our tastes in reading and in music, but on The Undercover Soundtrack these borders seem to vanish. We are creatures fuelled by sound, writing in a state of semi-possession. Same for the blog’s fans; they read all the posts, whatever their genre preferences.

This urge to express is bigger than pigeonholes. We are united in creativity, whatever we write. We come away – or I do – having glimpsed the soul of a book – and of an author too.

Does music tell you stories?

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About the Author

Roz_Morris_book_signingRoz Morris lives in London. From the earliest age she had a compulsion to express herself on the page. Let out of university, she was soon working as a journalist and writing novels. You’ll have seen her books on the bestseller lists but not under her name because she ghostwrote them for other people. She is now coming into the daylight with novels of her own. Her first is My Memories of a Future Life and her next, Life Form Three, will be released in winter 2013. She is also the author of two writing booksNail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and how you can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence and has just released Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life .

Find The Undercover Soundtrack here.    Find her Kobo books here. Roz also has a writing blog Nail Your Novel.  Connect with her on Twitter @ByRozMorris and @NailYourNovel.

Books

MyMemoriesOfAFutureLifeNailYourNovelRozMorristiny nail your novel nyn2covcomp

Promoting your Kobo books

By Maia Sepp

What are some free – or nearly free – ways for the penny-pinching indie writer to promote their Kobo books and build their platform?

Sociable!

These days it’s crucial for indie writers to have a mailing list, website, Facebook page, Goodreads, Google+ and Twitter accounts, and whatever new technology pops up in the next five minutes. Now, not everyone is going to fall madly in love with every social media format – my relationship with Twitter is probably headed for divorce – but there are ways to cross-post your postings and tweets. Generally, it’s recommended that you focus on the one form of social media that you like the most and then distribute that content out to your other social media accounts (via software packages such as Hootsuite, or built-in site plugins.)

One other way to keep up with what’s going on in the industry is to join an indie author organization. For a small fee, you can rub virtual shoulders with other indies as well as established writers who are making a living off of their writing. One that I’d recommend is The Alliance of Independent Authors, a non-profit indie advocacy organization that blogs about the book industry, hosts guest speakers, and is generally full of awesome.

Much Ado About Free Content

There’s been a ton of buzz in the blogosphere lately about using free content for promotional purposes. Putting all that aside, free can still be a component of building an indie writer’s platform. Goodreads, a social reading platform that has over ten million members and growing, is a fantastic place to promote your book. There’s a good amount of confluence between Goodreads and Kobo customers, and one of the great perks of that relationship is that Goodreads reviews can be used to populate a Kobo writer’s product page. (If you haven’t added your book to Goodreads yet, you can take a look at the Goodreads Author Program here.)

One excellent way to find readers on Goodreads is to host a giveaway (running the giveaway is free, but you’ll need to cough up the bucks to mail a hard copy of your novel). I hosted one in January, which became one of the top fifteen giveaways that month, resulting in 3000+ entries, with 10 winners. Winners are expected to post reviews of your book (Goodreads says that about 60% go on to do so). Over 2000 readers added my book to their “to read” list as part of the giveaway entry, some of whom are now reading and reviewing my book. One thing that not everyone’s aware of is that you can do more than one giveaway in a six month period. I’m going to run a second giveaway in April to take advantage of this option. And another perk: lots of “to reads” will result in placement in “also bought” lists, which helps other Goodreads readers discover your books.

Another interesting way to use free content to build readership is to publish a teaser portion of your book for free on Kobo, Goodreads, or a site like Wattpad. Wattpad, another free social media site, allows people to read, like, and follow you as well as comment on your books, so you have a built-in audience when your next release comes out. People who enjoy my teaser chapter have gone on to review and read my full novel (and have been helpful enough to say where they found it). It’s challenging to determine the exact relationship between offering free content and subsequent sales, but what we do know is that it will help expand our online footprint, which is never a bad thing.

Kobo-Specific Promotional Sites

There are a small (and hopefully growing) group of Kobo-specific sites that list Kobo books. One is Kobo Book Hub, which lists books for free, and cross-promotes via their Facebook and Twitter pages. Another site is Trindiebooks, which posts recommendations, reviews and listings. Bookbub is also a site that can be used to promote on Kobo. (I can’t vouch for how successful these sites are in getting the word out, but I’ll be investigating in the next little while. I’ll post the results on my site.)

What are Other KWL Writers Doing?

It’s always important to spy keep an eye on other writers who have been doing this a while, and who are doing well at it. Kobo Writing Life authors who are both successful and generous with their experiences include Joanna Penn, Edward W. Robertson, and Lindsay Buroker. Add these authors to your blogroll (and check out their books!) – you won’t be sorry.

Other Ideas?

What’s worked for you? What promotional tools have you used? Which indie writers do you follow?

About the Author

Maia Sepp left a career in IT to write about home renovations and sock thievery. Reach Maia online at maiasepp.com.

Check out Maia’s books on Kobo!

IndieReCon post: 7 worst mistakes indie authors make

Indierecon-logo4This past February was IndieReCon, an online convention for self-publishers. Every hour, eight hours a day, for three days, industry professionals of all stripes posted articles, vblogs, and hosted live chats. There were also great giveaways and prizes to be won!  It’s generated a wealth of information, and the following is an excerpt/summary of one of the fantastic articles that was posted.

Be sure to click through for the full article, and register for IndieReCon when it rolls around next year!

7 Worst Mistakes Indie Authors Make by Joanna Penn

To be an independent author means taking your book project seriously. But most of us haven’t been in publishing for our whole careers, so it’s inevitable that we make mistakes along the way.

Mistakes aren’t bad either. They are the human way to improve and learn. But it helps if we can help each other!

I’m not perfect and I continue to learn along the writer’s journey but here are the worst mistakes I have made and seen others doing too. I’d love to hear from you in the comments about your mistakes as by sharing, we can all improve together.

  1. Not spending enough time learning about you, your book and your audience
  2. Not getting a professional editor
  3. Not getting professional book cover design
  4. Doing a large print run without having a distribution deal
  5. Paying way too much for services you can do yourself with a little education
  6. Doing no marketing at all, or getting shiny object syndrome
  7. Focusing everything into one book

For the whole article and more details, read the whole article here!

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