Monday, December 12, 2022

A Writers Potluck

I want to thank the authors from FIRST LOVE for their contributions to the IWSG Anthology Blog this past year--hard to believe it's been a year! And as 2022 comes to a close, we are wrapping up our 7th IWSG anthology volume of posts with a Potluck of advice, final thoughts, and future happening to share. Hope you enjoy!

The Main Course in our Writers Potluck is some advice: 

How to Break a Block

If the block is simply lack of motivation, I break it with music. A killer playlist energizes me and helps me focus. When writing “Clyde and Coalesce,” I listened to 80’s rock. Now I’m working on a trilogy of superhero novels, so my current favorite is “Superheroes” by The Script.

If the block is due to me feeling disconnected from the story, it’s often because I’m writing a boring chapter. In that case, powering through won’t help. I have to rethink why the chapter is there at all. Filler must be cut! If it’s boring but important to the plot, I let the character’s personalities shine more. They’re snarky and fun when I let them be.

There are several things I try when I feel stuck, depending what's causing it. If it's a lack of inspiration, I try doing other things that inspire, like changing scenery (even something as simple as a walk around the block or a visit to a friend's house) or reading a book or watching a movie for fun. Sometimes remembering what you like about a good story is all it takes. 

If it's burnout, I try not to make writing feel like work. I give myself permission to write what I want, just for fun, and try to turn off my inner editor. Sometimes there are deadlines so it's not always possible but remembering what you love about writing and emphasizing that is key.

If it's a story issue requiring problem solving, I try to actively think through the issue, then walk away for a bit to other duties. Over the next few days, while doing something mundane (folding laundry, washing dishes, taking a shower), something might come to me. If not, when I sit down to think about it again after the break, my mind is cleared enough to come back to it with fresh eyes, which can also help. If it doesn't, talking it over with a writer friend is super helpful! 

If it's life circumstances getting in the way, sometimes you have to give yourself space and time. I had a hard time focusing when I was exhausted during pregnancy and when I was in the middle of a big move. It's okay to take care of those things first--they can take up your whole mental energy--and then come back to writing when you're ready. 
Sammi Spizziri -- THE REAL THING

And for Dessert, some sweet

Parting Thoughts with Hopeful Aspirations

Contributing to this anthology has been a thrilling and challenging experience. I’ve learned so much, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. As we head into the new year, I’m drafting book three in my superhero trilogy while continuing to promote Heart of a Hero, which was published in November. 2023 will be a busy year, but I'll keep my eyes open for writing contests that pique my interest. You never know where they might lead! 

Reflecting back on 2022, being part of the FIRST LOVE anthology has definitely been a high point for me. So many great stories, great authors, and amazing and supportive readers! I was thinking the other day about what it means to be in a "toxic environment" -- one that promotes death and discord -- vs. an environment that supports life, health, and growth, and am so grateful to be part of a writing and reading community that genuinely lifts people up and helps them succeed. My goal for the coming year is to take time to appreciate the journey and the hard-earned growth, and to be sure to spread the love!

It has been fun working on the anthologies for the IWSG. They have brought together such a great bunch of writers over the years and hopefully helped them on their author journey. Dancing Lemur Press is proud of the seven books we produced and thanks the IWSG admins, members, and judges for all of their hard work over the years.

Dancing Lemur Press has five books slated for release next year, including several of my own! Kicking it off February 7 with In Darkness: The Vampire, it will be the first books I’ve written in years and I’m excited. 
-- L. Diane Wolfe - Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

I have been honored to moderate the IWSG Anthology blog. I've loved working with and getting to know the authors and have learned so much from them about writing and the publication process. I hope you have too! -- Tara Tyler (Author of Reset from TICK TOCK A STITCH IN CRIME and Sentient from DARK MATTER)

May you Enjoy the Holiday Season and 
Write with Glee in 2023!

Monday, November 7, 2022

A Cornucopia of Marketing Advice for Writers

Part 2 of our Marketing Experiences to pass on...

Sylvia Ney has a good list...
  1. Get your book reviewed by influential writers and bloggers. Getting your book reviewed by these influential people can give you the needed exposure. ...
  2. Create an author website with your bio, book description, and other information about you ...
  3. Write a blog post about the topic of your book or what inspired you to write it and share it on social media. ...
  4. Speak at Writer's events, conferences, etc. and offer your books there.

Notes from Katie Klein
I enjoy using Twitter for marketing. The concise nature of the posts is most appealing, but I also like that I can add hashtags to expand my reach. I typically schedule my tweets in advance, so there’s always a handful of posts ready to go in case I get too busy to log on during the day. I do promote my own books, but most of my tweets are for writers. I love posting inspiring/motivational quotes and writing tips. My system over there is set, so now I’m just trying to get better at interacting with others because social media promotion is always a two-way street: you have to give to get. :)

And SE White offers some in-depth thoughts...
In this day and age, authors have to put ourselves out there to market our books, hanging weightless in cyberspace with multiple tentacles dangling into the ether. We need a platform. We’ve got to have an online presence. It’s necessary to network. All fun, exotic concepts brought to us courtesy of the internet. There are websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, podcasts, all asking for your online attention. There are writer’s associations, critique groups, pitch fests, twitter pitch fests, conferences, panels, and other writing related events needing your digital presence. None of it is a bad thing, per se. I'm not railing against social media. It's a very effective marketing tool. 

I'm just saying that not being a very social skills person puts me at something of an automatic disadvantage in this arena. (Comment trolls DEFINITELY do not help.) In sum: the social media beast requires multiple sacrifices from introverts like me. Here are some tips, from one introvert to any others, about how to minimize the pain while maximizing your social media interaction. 
  1. Learn to love the Internet. The internet is perfect for us! We can interact with almost limitless amounts of people while never actually having to see them face-to-face. 
  2. But! Pick the niche that works best for you and focus on it. Don't feel you have to expose yourself on every social site, ever. This is a quality over quantity situation. And 
  3. Your active participation is how you add value, and get value at the same time. It's like magic! The deeper and more authentic your relationships on the platform, the more you get out of them. It's easier to interact if it's something you feel passionate about.

Final tidbits from me, your humble moderator.
The writing journey is full of pitfalls, setbacks, and hurdles. But writers keep writing and put everything we have into a fantastic story and do what it takes to share it with hungry readers. We have to figure out what works for us and put ourselves out there. 

Personally, I have sold the most by going out to book events, but also at vendor events where I'm the only author. Every event is a risk, and I weigh the odds of how many books I might sell verses the price of the events -- free ones are obviously the best but hardest to get into. And many book events require you to have published traditionally or at least published a new book recently. And when I go, I have a fun, freebie-filled display to draw readers in, then strike up a discussion about my books. Sometimes they sell, sometimes they don't. But the greatest things I've found interacting with readers and other writers are making connections and learning about their experiences.

I wish you well in the upcoming holiday season - Happy Writing!

Brought to you by...

IWSG Anthology #7
Romance – Clean & Wholesome/Contemporary/Historical

Monday, October 10, 2022

Marketing Advice for Authors

That dreaded word - Marketing...

Advertising is a big part of life. Ads can be pushy and annoying. But they are necessary evils for people who want to sell their products. And Authors trying to sell books are no exception. The key is to promote your book and reach your target audience, to hook them without alienating them... Self-promotion is personal, uncomfortable, and tricky. And hard to figure out!

Here are some great thoughts and pieces of advice on MARKETING BOOKS from our FIRST LOVE Authors.

from Kim Elliott
I should start by saying that I’m not terribly skilled at marketing. I haven’t spent a dime on online ads, and I don’t intend to until I have a few books available. I currently maintain a website, Facebook page, Goodreads page, Amazon author page, and Wattpad account. I find that Goodreads is my favorite because it gives me insight into who my readers are and what they want. 

Aside from the anthology, I always self-publish on Amazon and enroll my books in KDP Select. That allows me to offer my books on the subscription service, Kindle Unlimited (KU). Most of my profits come from KU. Every few months, KDP Select lets me offer my ebooks for $.99 for up to a week, while still earning full royalties. During the sale, I promote on several of the free sites recommended by Dave Chesson (aka the Kindlepreneur). I’ve gained a few readers this way. Overall, my marketing strategy is to try all the free methods I can find, see what works, and try paid methods later. 

from Denise Covey
Who likes marketing? No writer, I'm sure. We'd rather be writing!
I use the FB group, 20Booksto50k as my marketing guru. Following their guidelines, I 'rapid released' my first 5 books - boom, boom, boom, and made good sales. I then used those complicated Amazon Ads to promote the first book in each series. Great exposure, not many sales, but I'm still learning. I also used the Amazon giveaway feature for 3 free days here and there which was ho-hum. My most successful marketing strategy is Bookfunnel, where I join promotions to gather newsletter subscribers (very successful) and sales promos to sell books (not so successful) but I need more books! My biggest problem is finding reviewers. Seeing so few reviews of the anthology, I'm not the only one.

One of my marketing strategies for the anthology has been to photograph '...Doughnuts' in different settings with different people. Here's one of my daughters holding it which has been well received on Facebook. It was 'doughnut day' at her cafe, so I styled a few images like this one.

from out publisher,

L. Diane Wolfe

Senior Editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
As a publisher, I can tell you the most important marketing strategy for selling books is book reviews. A book HAS to garner reviews before its release date. Those reviews are needed for marketing materials (such as bookmarks and sell sheets) and back of cover blurbs (print) / interior blurbs (eBook.) They are vital on bookseller sites and Goodreads. (Who buys a book with next to no reviews?) They are excellent word-of-mouth on blogs and websites. We always send out review copies 6-9 months before a book is released to get these reviews. Not sending them out several months in advance (or sending any at all) almost guarantees a book will gain no traction.

A second strategy I’d like to mention is live events. As an author myself, I always loved live events. (There were times when I’d do 40+ a year.) But in particular now are comic/sci-fi/geek cons and the success we’ve enjoyed at them. We do have a good catalogue of speculative fiction, but it would surprise you what sells at these events, so we take all titles. When we can pitch a title and the reader can hold the book, look it over, we have a far better chance of gaining a new fan for that author. (And not to mention these cons are a lot of fun!)

from Melissa Maygrove
The dreaded job of marketing... Most writers would prefer to only write, but even traditionally published authors are expected to do their share. I'm indie, so I do it all. 

I'd love to go to in-person events, but I work full-time, so fitting those in is difficult. I do occasional giveaways and run ebook ads (e.g. Digital Book Today) to promote sales and new releases, and I usually see a little spike. But, in the end, I'm lucky to break even on cost. 

My two best tools are Amazon ads and BookFunnel. I began dabbling in both this year. I offer a free subscriber-exclusive novella (a.k.a 'reader magnet') that readers can get when they sign up for my author newsletter. BookFunnel makes it easy to deliver. I can also take part in multi-author promotions there. BookFunnel has already helped me quadruple the number of subscribers I had when I signed up. 

Between the BookFunnel boost and the Amazon ads, my royalties this month are projected to be twenty times what I made all of last year. Now I just have to write more books.

I don't know about you, but I found some great new things to try! We can take the scariness out of marketing by getting advice from others who have already tested sites and avenues and know what works. We still have to figure out what we are willing to do and what will work for us, but we are not alone!

I hope you found something you can put to use. And this is only half of our authors. They had so much to say, we'll have more advice next month. Be sure to stop by again in November!

Don't be afraid to put yourself out there!