The Story Behind the Story

6 comments:
Today I welcome Cheryl Bolen, author of It Had To Be You, a sweeping love story set against the backdrop of a world going to war.

Here's Cheryl!

Joan has asked me to blog about the story of how my World War II love story, It Had to be You, came to be offered as an ebook.

I started writing the book in the 1980s and became so passionate about it that I spent about three years doing research. Since this was before the internet, the research involved two trips to Los Angeles (the city where I grew up) and searching microfilm of the city's newspapers from the 1930s and 1940s.

The story is set mostly in Los Angeles, beginning in 1937 when a girl from Texas arrives there with a burning ambition to be news reporter. She lands a job on Hearst's Los Angeles Examiner (which is the newspaper shown on the book's cover). She also falls hopelessly in love with Johnny Honda, the powerful owner of the city's most popular nightclub. That Johnny is Japanese-American propels the story.

That's enough about that story because I'm sure you readers are intelligent enough to know what kind of hardships await my characters.

This guest blog post is about what happened to my story, originally titled Nisei. [Editor's Note: nisei is a Japanese language term used in countries in North America, South America and Australia to mean the children born to Japanese people in the new country.]

Now, this wasn't the first novel I'd written. Armed with degrees in English and journalism, I'd completed my first novel at age 25. I continued writing romantic suspense novels that never got published.

By the time I was writing It Had to Be You (Book 5), I had finally wised up enough to network. I began joining writers' organizations and entering contests. My World War II love story started kicking butt in contests. "This is The One," I thought.

But as I began to meet industry professionals, I learned that World War II fiction – as opposed to non-fiction – does not sell well; therefore, publishers will not invest in these books. Not just one editor or one agent told me this. They all told me this.

In one contest in which it placed, the senior editor of Harlequin Historical told the contest coordinator she liked my writing and that if I wrote something that took place before 1900, she would like to see it.

I wrote a Regency-set historical, A Duke Deceived, because I loved reading them. I sent it to her, and five months later, she bought it, paying me a $5,000 advance. That was in 1997. I had been a novelist for a quarter of century before earning a dime. I have since published about a dozen books.

In 2000, a small epublisher in the fledgling days of ebooks published my World War II romance. Even with generous royalties, I made less than $30 on the book.

The current ereader explosion has changed the face of the publishing industry. Since I had the rights back on many of my earlier now out-of-print books, at the end of May I started offering them as ebooks.

In June – at the urging of Joan and others – I decided to bring out It Had to Be You. It was so much fun designing a cover to fit the book, and I think my husband and I were able to capture the essence of the book in our cover.

I'm glad that people are reading about Dianne and Johnny's plight. I'm glad my book will be available in cyberspace after I'm gone from this earth – unlike my print books which got one quick shelf placement before vanishing into oblivion.

Now that I'm wearing a publisher's hat, though, I realize the wisdom of all those industry professionals who told me the World War II genre was not marketable. I now have six Regency historical books available as ebooks, and they sell substantially better than It Had to be You because they already have a built-in niche. Even my poorest selling Regency significantly outsells the World War II book.

But it's It Had to Be You which netted me a recent email which said, "This is the best book ever." Readers really DO like something different.

Takeaway Truth

For all of you who proclaim that you want a different kind of romance, here it is! Let's show Cheryl the power of the ebook reading audience. Buy It Had To Be You today.

Ebook Success: Rule #8, Market & Promote

8 comments:
Welcome! Today is the last day of this series. We're covering Rule #8: Market & Promote.

Ebook Success: Joan Sells & Tells All

In a few weeks, I'll publish Ebook Success: Joan Sells & Tells All, the ebook that will be a compilation of this series on SlingWords and many more blog posts about this subject posted on this blog and my old blog that I've terminated. (Just call me The Terminator.) Then you can have all the information in one place.

In the meantime, here's my book list for those of you who are new to the blog. If you've seen it before, just scroll down.

Just One Look

Still The One

JANE (I'm-Still-Single) JONES

The Trouble With Love

Romeo and Judy Anne

Written Wisdom

Parts Of This Series Previously Published

Ebook Success: Get Educated

Ebook Success: Write Business Plan

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 1

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 2

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 3

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 4


Ebook Success: Working With Cover Artists (addendum published the next day)

Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 1, Keywords

Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 2, Categories

Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 3, Bio & Book Description

Ebook Success: Rule #5, Price

Ebook Success: Rule #6 & 7, Your Sample; Your Book

Joan's Golden Rules

Here's my list of golden rules--called golden because I hope they will help you earn heaps of gold from your ebook sales.

1. Get educated.

2. Write a business plan.

3. Choose cover art wisely.

4. Write professional ad copy.

5. Choose price wisely.

6. Give a smart sample.

7. Write a good book.

8. Customize Marketing and Promotion.


I haven't written everything I have to say on any one of these rules because each post would be so long--even broken into parts as I tried to do. I'll elaborate in the book I'm bringing out since I can more easily break that into chapters.

Rule #8: Customize Marketing and Promotion

First, let's get on the same page when it comes to understanding some underlying basics about promoting your work/yourself. Here are 5 elements you need to know: public relations, promotion, publicity, marketing, and branding.

By know, I mean you need to know the true definitions--not what you may think these words/phrases mean. I blogged about this a while back in 3 Ps of Internet Marketing. I'll be quoting from that blog for part of this article.

Publicity, promotion, and public relations are often incorrectly used as if they were interchangeable. They're not. Promotion is built upon the foundation of publicity and public relations.

Do you know the difference between publicity and public relations? If you are an author with a book to sell, then you darn well need to know the difference because then you’ll know how to drive traffic to your book and to your website. Traffic is what you want because the bigger the traffic, as in number of visitors, the better your chance for sales success.

Publicity

Publicity is the deliberate attempt to manage the public's perception of a subject whether that subject is a book, an author, a website, or whatever. Publicists, that would be you if you wear all the hats in your Indie Author business, try to create news rather than sit around waiting for opportunities to present themselves.

Publicity in large part means free advertising. Publicity is gaining free exposure by using the services of others. For example, those who write articles for article content sites do so because they get a byline and have the opportunity to include their own URL in the article. They may be writing for free, but they hope to gain exposure for their own website and their name (their brand) in the byline. They also get a chance to post a bio which will increase the name recognition factor. http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif(I've blogged about the benefits of contributing to article content sites.)

Publicity is getting your book mentioned as one of the 5 Great Indie Romance Books. That's what I discovered this morning when Amy Edelman of IndieReader was kind enough to notify me that JANE (I'm-Still-Single) JONES was one of those 5 books.

I did nothing to make that happen. As I said, publicity is in large part free. I'm making the most of it by talking about it here, telling friends about it, posting it on lists, etc. That's publicity. I'm also giving back publicity to Amy Edelman and to Romantic Love Books by publishing their links here.

If you comment on my blog, I just about always repeat your "name" and comment back to you. I'm offering you publicity twice: once when your name shows up and once again when I repeat your name. According to marketing professionals, a name must be seen at least 9 times by someone in order for that name to be remembered. I'm trying to do my part to help you with that.

When an opportunity presents itself, always take advantage of free publicity, and always pay it back to the person who gave you the opp.

Public Relations

Public relations is promoting a product, i.e. your book, your name, or your brand in order to create favorable reactions or positive impressions on the minds of the public.

You can do this with an effective website. (When I say website, I mean either a domain website or a blog. Blogs are websites though most differentiate between the two.)An effective website is one that pulls in visitors and directs their attention to areas you want them to view.

You can ask any online marketing pro, and they’ll all tell you that the answer to pulling in visitors to a website is content. You must have something interesting on your website that visitors need to know or want to read--preferably both.

The least successful websites and blogs are those that authors view as a promotion vehicle for their books. You know the ones I mean. There's nothing but pictures of the authors' book covers, and all the content is about me, me, me. Readers aren't interested in that. They can see your book covers on Amazon.

However, if you show a cover and talk about how the book came into being or tell a funny story about writing a particular scene or something interesting that is entertaining, then readers will be interested.

Radio Station WII FM

When you're thinking about websites, you have to always remember that visitors are tuned to their favorite radio station: WII FM (What's In It For Me). So make sure your content always answers that question.

Promotion

Remember, promotion is built upon the foundation of publicity and public relations. Promotion itself is one of four elements of marketing: product, price, promotion, place. A Wikipedia definition is that it is "the communication link between sellers and buyers for the purpose of influencing, informing, or persuading a potential buyer's purchasing decision."

Ah, that's right. You have publicity like my book JANE being listed as one of 5 Great Romance Books. I'm taking that publicity and using the element of public relations and promoting that book in hopes of influencing the opinions of romance readers in the audience to buy that book. That's the end result you want to achieve by promotion: influencing someone's purchasing decision.

Two Types of Promotion

Briefly, I'll touch on the 2 types of promotion: above the line promotion and below the line promotion.

For most Indie Authors, above the line promotion is out of reach. That's promotion in mass media like TV, radio, print periodicals, internet, mobile phones, etc. We just don't have pockets deep enough to do this.

Below the line promotion is our gig because that covers all other promotion, and we can manage some of that. A lot of below the line promotion is subtle where the consumer might not really be aware that any promotion is occurring. These still include big ticket items that usually only big dogs get: product placement, direct mail, sponsorship, merchandising, trade shows, etc.

Anything else you can think of is below the line, and Indie Authors usually can accomplish only very minor promotions compared to what professional marketers and clients with big bucks can do.

I think the answer is to not sweat it. Be aware of what's out there, and do what is in the realm of your power. That's usually writing the best damn book you can. Remember, all the high-priced promotion in the world won't make a bad book a success.

Marketing

As stated above, all this goes into what marketing is. Easy definition: It's everything you do to get your book (product or service) in front of potential customers.

Branding

Branding was a word created about fifteen years ago by marketers. There's a lot of confusion about what it means. I like to think of it as your product's personality. It's you = what? Margaret Mitchell =sweeping Civil War saga. If she wrote in today's world, that would be her brand.

I am a writer. Romance novels are my product. The personality of my books? Sexy and funny with a chick lit attitude. I brand my books that way, and I brand me, as the author, as a romance author of funny, sexy books with a sassy (chick lit) attitude.

What Does This Have To Do With You

I think you need an understanding of the basic elements of marketing so that you'll see why all your Facebook updates and Tweets probably don't result in the sale of very many books. You can have 20,000 followers, but I bet that doesn't result in more than a few sales unless maybe you're Nora Roberts.

This also explains why ads you purchase that may get 15,000 pageviews result in no appreciable increase in sales.

Many people who first publish an ebook are told to hang out on the Kindleboards and Amazon reader discussion forums, and Goodreads, etc. Good luck with that. Most of those venues do not allow self-promotion and will tar and feather you if you are so foolhardy as to say you wrote a book.

In a way, I can't blame them because readers aren't there to listen to a few thousand authors chant a chorus of "buy my wonderful book."

The only reason, as I see it, to go to these websites is because you like hanging out with other writers on the Kindleboards--maybe you'll learn something from them. Or you like hanging out with readers because you too love reading.

What's An Indie Author To Do

1. Customize your efforts as much as possible. Waht works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.

2. If you've got a website, use it intelligently. That's about the best medium for promotion I know.

3. If you want to pay for advertising, check out the venue with other authors you know to see if they have had any quantitative results from advertising there.

4. Don't get so caught up in social media that you lose track of the writing.

5. Don't mistake being busy with promoting on FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. as being effective with promotions.

6. Pay it backwards and forwards any time someone shines a spotlight on you.

7. Think outside the box and see if you can come up with something that's organic to you and your books, and that's a joy to do, not a chore.

8. Don't obsess about reviews. Some think that good reviews will sell scads of books. Reviews seem to mean something only to authors and the readers who post them. Seventy-five 5-star reviews won't sell your book any more than no reviews will hinder its sale.

9. Focus on what you can control.

10. Work hard on writing the next book and making it the best it can be. Unless you're Margaret Mitchell, careers are not built on just one book.

11. Learn more about the process of marketing with every book you write.

12. Take a deep breath and realize that you're either in this for the long haul or you should get out now because it won't ever get easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is.

Coming Soon

Thanks for joining me. This concludes my series Ebook Success. In a couple of weeks, I'll publish the ebook containing all these blog posts plus a lot more including advice from successful ebook authors. I'll continue to blog about ebooks and continue to give tips, tricks of the trade, and advice because I like sharing; I like helping others.

Like I've said, that's just the way I'm made. I know how hard it is to make a living as a writer. I'm not an expert. I'm just a working writer who has had some success, and I hope I can help you avoid my mistakes and maybe help shortcut the process for you. I want you to achieve your own brand of success and have fun doing it.

Takeaway Truth

A rising tide floats all boats. I wish you magnificent ebook sales. If my advice helps, please let me know.

Note: If SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!) or making a donation by clicking the button below or, perhaps subscribe, for only $.99 per month to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.




Ravenous Romance Wants You!

No comments:
One of my online acquaintances is Tabitha Dulla, an Editor at Ravenous Romance, a respected publisher of erotic romance.

This publishing company is owned by publishing veterans Holly Schmidt, Allan Penn (co-owners of Hollan Publishing) and Lori Perkins, a well-known New York-based literary agent.

Tabitha asked me if I'd let my reading audience know that she is actively looking to acquire books! Wow! Now that's the kind of news writers love to read, isn't it?

If you haven't bought books from this publisher before, be sure and study their website to familiarize yourself with their books and the various lines they publish.

Here's The Scoop

Ravenous Romance is currently looking to acquire erotic romance novels and short stories in all sub-genres including contemporary, paranormal, gay, lesbian, and menage. Of course, every book must be a compelling romance, with a great love story and passionate, explicit sex.

Tabitha will consider completed novels between 50,000-60,000 words and short fiction between 2,500 and 5,000 words.

If you are interested in submitting your work, please contact Tabitha Dulla at this email:

tabitha dot dulla @ gmail dot com

In the body of your email, please include (1) a brief 1 paragraph description of the work, (2) the sub-genre, and (3) the Ravenous Romance line for which it is best suited in your opinion.

If asked to submit the work itself, you will need to also include a longer (1-2 page) synopsis of the work.

For those who are previously published, please include your publishing history.

If you submit, feel free to tell Tabitha that Joan Reeves who writes SlingWords sent you.

Takeaway Truth

If you write in these genres, this is a great opportunity for you to get your work directly in front of an editor who wants to buy. Good luck!

Are You Happy

2 comments:
August is National Admit Your Happy Month. No kidding. It's true. Now, if I were European, I could understand this since that's the month many Europeans simply take off.

I think we should do that here in Texas. After all, it's the hottest month of the year. There are so many automotive meltdowns and tire failures on the freeways here in Houston in this terrible heat, that they ought to just tell everybody to stay home. Of course, that would have a grave impact on the tow truck drivers' incomes.

However, I digress. Back to this business of it being National Admit Your Happy Month. Since the month is almost over, I'll take a stand. I, Joan Reeves, herein admit that I am happy. Why the heck not? I might as well be happy as to be sad.

Everyone always says that the Constitution guarantees our right to be happy, but that's not true. It guarantees the American people only the right to pursue happiness. As Benjamin Franklin is purported to have said: "You have to catch it yourself."

The catching it yourself is a problem for a lot of people because they have a tendency to think that all things must be perfect in order for them to be happy. That's simply not true. Happiness is a decision one makes to maintain that mind state called happy.

Tolstoy said: "If you want to be happy, be."

Don't try to be happy. That sage Yoda nailed it when he said: "Do or do not. There is no try."

I'm reminded of a story I read years ago. I think it was in one of the first Chicken Soup for the Soul books. The writer said you might as well be happy regardless of what is going on. Say you have a wrecked car. You can be depressed and have a wrecked car or you can be happy and have a wrecked car. Either way, your car is still going to be wrecked. Will moping make the car whole again? No way. Will happiness? No. But which will make you whole again? Being depressed or being happy?

Quit obsessing about whether you're happy or not. Just be. I think Edith Wharton was dead on when she said: "If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time."

Takeaway Truth

Learn to roll with the punches, and be happy where you are planted, whether that's in a fragrant meadow or in deep excrement. The choice is always yours. Choose wisely.

It Had To Be You by Cheryl Bolen

2 comments:
I was privileged to read a version of It Had To Be You several years ago, and it was stunning.

I've bugged the author endlessly about publishing it as an ebook, and, finally, she did it! Allow me to tell you why this story remained in my mind all these years.

Backstory

More than likely one reason I was so attracted to this book was because my mother was a young woman during WWII. She kept scrapbooks about every aspect of that era.

Mom played big band music from those decades of her youth, and I grew up listening to Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller along with rock and roll. Whenever there were old movies from the 1930s and 1940s on TV, I watched them and grew fascinated by what so many film students consider Hollywood's Golden Age.

This Book

Take those years leading up to the war, add some of the famous stars from the silver screen, toss in a young woman from Texas and a handsome worldly man unlike any of the boys at home, and you have the makings of a love story for the ages. Like all good romances, there must be conflict, and this story has the deepest, most entrenched conflict of all that was rampant then and still exists today: racial and cultural differences.

You see, the young woman is Anglo, and the man she falls in love with is Japanese American--and the time is an era when those citizens were being eyed with suspicion and distrust. Eventually so many of them were rounded up, their belongings confiscated, and they were placed in camps. It's part of the shame of the war years.

Love conquers all, they say, and Diane is willing to fight the world for the man she loves. This is the kind of love story you'll remember. It Had To Be You is what romance is all about. One woman. One man. Made for each other, regardless of what the world may say.

Takeaway Truth

This book is a joy because one rarely finds a romance set from pre-WWII to post-WWII. How nice to read something with such a different setting. This romance about lovers from the Great Generation that gave so much for our country is a keeper.

You Alerts

1 comment:
I mentioned to a writer the other day how I had discovered my books were being pirated. It was easy because Google told me.

Well, actually, a Google Alert notified me by email. The message contained a link showing my name and book title.

If you're a writer, you need to set up alerts to monitor your name, your book titles, your blog title, and anything else you think someone might mention online.

I try to protect my family's privacy so I have alerts set on their names too. Ah, yes, paranoid is my middle name. However, as a cop told me long ago, sometimes it pays to be paranoid. Forewarned is often forearmed. It's easy.

Google Alerts

Click on the above link, and it will take you to a Guide that explains what you need to know about Google Alerts. If you don’t already have a Google account, set one up. Then set up an alert following the directions.

In the alert box, enter your name or the name of your book or whatever you wish to monitor with quote marks before and after the search phrase. That way, you get notified only if that exact wording gets published somewhere online. You’ll receive an email each time it’s mentioned, and you can monitor the alert from your account.

TweetBeep

TweetBeep does the same thing except it searches Twitter of couse and sends you an alert when your search string is mentioned.

HyperAlerts

This site can track Facebook when your name is mentioned.

Takeaway Truth

Be prepared that sometimes you may not like what they’re saying, but it’s all part of the biz--that's the business of growing a thick skin impenetrable by the slings and arrows of bad reviews, naysayers, and other online denizens.

3 Ways To Transfer Big Files

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Sometimes you're tasked with sending a big file to someone--like possibly yourself. I do this if I'm at home and want to make a file available on the computer at my Hill Country home. Some of these files might be music or photos or a video I'm attempting to create.

Sure, I could save the files on a backup drive and take that with me to the other house, but there are easier ways you might want to try. If you're collaborating with someone on a project, the following "big file transfer" sites make it much easier.

Here are a 3 websites that can help you accomplish your mission. Most offer multiple tiers of service from Paid to Expensive, which is designed for corporate use mostly. You usually have to register, but that's about it.

If the thought of FTP scares you, then you'll probably love these sites that make transferring files as easy as emailing a photo or massive document files. They all offer online storage/backup plans too. Best of all, they're easy to use.

Send This File

Drop Send

Transfer Big Files

Takeaway Truth

The Internet contains a lot of free resources if you know where to find them.

Double Occupancy by Elaine Raco Chase

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Every romance novel needs an appealing heroine and hero. Elaine Chase is a master at creating strong, independent women.

In Double Occupancy, she does an about face and creates a heroine who is as vulnerable as she is intelligent. The hero of this romance is more than willing to take on her vulnerabilities.

In fact, I'll be so bold as to say that he is the star of this contemporary romance in that he is the kind of man every woman wants. Travis is gorgeous, hot, sensitive, intelligent, and intensely attracted to the heroine.

The author skillfully weaves a romance that shows the growth of a relationship from desire to love. Casey and Travis are made for each other, but it takes Casey a while to accept that, and her journey is one you'll enjoy as it's revealed.

I've got to say a word about the setting of this book which is the beautiful Mexican Riviera. It's so well drawn that it's an integral part of this romance. I've been to that part of Mexico, and reading this book made me want to return. Ms. Chase describes the friendly people, the lush landscape, and the beautiful Pacific just as I remember it. I find myself longing for a sun-drenched villa, a chaise, a pitcher of sangria, and a table piled high with books--or my Kindle stocked with many delightful romances.

Takeaway Truth

Every beach needs a good book. Readers, you won't go wrong with this one.

Ebook Success: Your Sample; Your Book

5 comments:
Welcome! Today, I'm going to talk about my Rule # 6: Give a smart sample, and Rule #7: Write a good book.

Ebook Success: Joan Sells & Tells All

In a few weeks, I'll publish an ebook that will be a compilation of this series on SlingWords and many more blog posts about this subject posted on this blog and my old blog that I've terminated. Then you can have all the information in one place.

In the meantime, here's my book list for those of you who are new to the blog. If you've seen it before, just scroll down.

Just One Look

Still The One

JANE (I'm-Still-Single) JONES

The Trouble With Love

Romeo and Judy Anne

Written Wisdom

Parts Of This Series Previously Published

Ebook Success: Get Educated

Ebook Success: Write Business Plan

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 1

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 2

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 3

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 4


Ebook Success: Working With Cover Artists (addendum published the next day)

Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 1, Keywords

Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 2, Categories

Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 3, Bio & Book Description

Ebook Success: Rule #5, Price

Joan's Golden Rules

Here's my list of golden rules--called golden because I hope they will help you earn heaps of gold from your ebook sales.

1. Get educated.

2. Write a business plan.

3. Choose cover art wisely.

4. Write professional ad copy.

5. Choose price wisely.

6. Give a smart sample.

7. Write a good book.

8. Customize Marketing and Promotion.

Rule #6: Give A Smart Sample

Some digital publishing platforms like Smashwords, XinXii, and AllRomanceEbooks.com allow you to post a sample or excerpt from your book. Smashwords lets you set a percentage of the book. Amazon automatically selects a percentage. XinXii and AllRomanceEbooks let you post whatever you wish as an excerpt.

This rule is simple and is probably something you've heard constantly if you've pursued print publishing: make that first chapter amazing.

You have a couple of chances to hook someone. That couple of chances are the first couple of sentences in your chapter. Don't be boring. Don't start with a mundane description of something. Don't start with any of the no-no's of writing: weather, a dream, a flashback, introducing a dozen characters in the space of a few sentences, introducing someone doing something amazing that makes the reader think, "Wow. I like this guy." if that character is not your protagonist.

Dynamite First Sentences

I've written several articles over the years about how to hook readers. Here are a few that I think deliver sharp hooks.

"Death was driving an emerald green Lexus." (Winter Moon by Dean Koontz)

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York." (The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath)

"I never knew her in life." (The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy)

"Andie Luft peered through the bridal veil, searching for the slimeball photographer who had ruined her day. "(My romantic comedy San Antone Blue, to be published Summer 2012)

"Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not at the subconscious level where savage things grow." (Carrie by Stephen King)

10 Tips For Hooking Readers

I always give these tips on how to hook the reader from the beginning. These will also help you write a first chapter that yields a stunning sample for your book.

1. A story begins with change. Change alters the environment for the character and/or threatens the character’s self-concept. Begin with what changes the status quo.

2. Never warm up your engines when writing. Start the story immediately.

3. Establish a threat or worry or story question at once. The king is giving a ball. Will Cinderella get invited? (Classic fairy tale Cinderella) There’s a bomb on the elevator. Will the bomb squad be able to rescue the people inside before the bomb detonates? (Movie Speed)

4. Keep character confusion to a minimum by introducing your characters carefully--one at a time.

5. Get something happening immediately. A novel is characterized by rising action.

6. Make the story go forward by pushing the hero/heroine back.

7. Don’t pick up the story threads too quickly--make the reader wait. Make the reader have questions about why something is happening, but not necessarily what is happening because you don't want the reader to be confused. Confusion negates a sale.

8. Do not give the entire life story of your characters immediately. This bogs down the story. Sprinkle the backstory throughout.

9. Evoke some kind of emotional reaction in the reader which will cause the reader to stick with your story from the first word to the last.

10. Do not be afraid to write and toss it away. Sometimes you have to write just to figure out what you’re trying to say. Don’t look at your words as if they are carved in stone. Throw away the boring words. Keep the exciting ones that build a compelling scene.

Rule #7: Write A Good Book

No, I'm not going to teach you how to write a good book even though that is what this rule is about. If you're publishing a book, then you should already have mastered the necessary narrative skills. Yes, writers do go on studying and learning and improving their skills, but I'm not here to teach you how to write.

If you don't think you know how to write, then why are you publishing a book. Adopt the mantra espoused in a very old wine commercial that said: "We will sell no wine before its time."

Promise now that you will publish no book before its time. Hone your skills. Make sure you give your story the best shot by using good writing skills because all the marketing and promotion in the world won't sell a bad book.

Readers are a discerning lot. They know a bad book when they see one. I don't care if you invest thousands in ads or if you have a gazillion FB friends and Twitter followers. None of that will help you if you put out a boring, ill-conceived book.

So, if you are uncertain as to the quality of your writing, get a second, third, fourth, or tenth opinion. Do NOT ever ask someone with whom you have a love or friend relationship or to whom you're related for their opinion of your book. They will not tell you what they honestly think because they don't want to hurt you. Even if it's good, you'll probably think they're praising it just because they don't want to offend you.

Get with a critique group or pay for a critique from someone who knows. Join a writing organization and find someone you click with. Read each other's work. If all else fails, print it, and find a retired English teacher who'll agree to read it. In other words, do whatever is necessary to get someone who knows something about good writing to read it.

Rule #7 exists to emphasize the importance of a quality product. Like many of the bestselling ebook authors, I may not write great literature, but I do write great escapist fiction. We all bring good narrative skills to our craft. I know I work hard to create stories that make people feel good and laugh.

You may say my books or John Locke's books (or whoever) sell because of sexy covers or that we were lucky or that our books are cheap or that readers have bad taste or whatever the slam of the week is. BUT, the bottom line is that no book will continue to sell if it isn't well-written.

So learn to write well. Write a good book. Then, you'll have a good sample to offer.

Why I'm Sharing

I'm sharing all of my secrets--essentially everything I've had to work hard to learn. That's just the way I'm made. I know how hard it is to make a living as a writer. Like I've said, I'm not an expert. I'm just a working writer who has had some success.

I hope this will help shortcut the process for you. I hope you can achieve your own brand of success and have fun doing it.

Next week I'll conclude this series--I think--with a discussion about Rule #8: Customize Marketing and Promotion.

Takeaway Truth

A rising tide floats all boats. I wish you magnificent ebook sales. If my advice helps, please let me know.

Note: If SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books or making a donation by clicking the button below or, perhaps subscribe, for only $.99 per month to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.



Effect of Free Ebooks

2 comments:
Right after I bought my Kindle last year, I went crazy downloading free ebooks that I found on my buddy Michael Gallagher's blog Free Kindle Books and Tips.

Within a few days I was living proof of the validity of a theory that many ebook authors espouse: offering a book free on actually sells other books. I'd heard this and had read much anecdotal evidence of this, but I proved it to myself that first week.

I'm telling you all this because I've seen this free book conundrum discussed on various Facebook and Linked In groups, several different blogs, and writers' forums. I've been asked via email what I think about it so here's what I think which I'd previously mentioned on the last Ebook Success post about Price.

What Free Does

Free gets you noticed in a big way. That can be good news/bad news all rolled into one. Yes, you get noticed and downloaded, but you also get attention you may not relish from readers who would ordinarily not touch your genre with the proverbial ten foot pole.

You may gain faithful readers, but you also run the risk of getting nasty reviews from the aforementioned crowd with the ten foot poles.

Free can also sell your next book if not your whole book list if readers like what they read.

Free Lead Me To Different Genres

After I started downloading free ebooks last year, I snagged Darkfever: Book 1 of The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning. I was hooked from the first sentence. Feverishly, if you'll pardon the pun, I raced through Darkfever, finishing it beyond midnight.

I could not wait for morning, and I couldn't sleep so I turned on the Kindle wireless, went to the Kindle shop, and purchased Bloodfever: Book 2 of The Fever Series. There I was, lying in bed, illuminated only by my Kindle Kandle book light, and I was buying a book!

Surreal! I read a few pages which turned into a few chapters. Only the thought of early morning appointments forced me to turn the Kindle off and lay it on the nightstand.

The next evening, I dived into Bloodfever, finishing it in the wee hours. Did I wait for morning? No, I did not. I went to the Kindle store and purchased each book of the rest of the Fae Series. I finished those and then had to wait until January of this year for the last book in the series. Just writing about all this makes me want to read them again.

Another New Sub-Genre

Fast forward to this year. I just did the same thing again. I downloaded a free ebook by Terri Reid entitled Loose Ends (Book 1: A Mary O'Reilly Paranormal Mystery) Great mystery! I'll be posting a review on Amazon for it. Compelling characters, plot, good pacing, and all the other elements that make for a solid mystery. The paranormal was well-done and carefully executed.

What did I do as soon as I finished the first book? I bought the other books in the series.

Free Books Sell Other Books

I don't think we can make a sweeping statement that offering a free book will make readers order your other books. However, I think we can safely say that if a reader downloads the free book and loves the story, the reader will seek out other books by that author.

Since I don't read much paranormal, and I certainly don't read fantasy, I'd never have pulled either of these books I've mentioned off a shelf in a bookstore or sought them out online.

However, a free book with an intriguing description introduced me to two great series of books. From free, I sought; and I bought.

Takeaway Truth

Free is a good way to try something you'd ordinarily not select. Like me, you just may find books that are keepers and authors you will follow to other books where you'll gladly pay the cover price.

Want your own Kindle? Click here.

Tired

No comments:
This weekend I find myself exhausted. Physically and mentally exhausted. Last weekend started at the ER, and I think I'm still a bit drained from that experience.

It's been a rough summer. I still haven't recovered all my data from my old computer, and that, and other calamities have made me fall far behind on writing.

That means I've been trying to catch up, but, with writing, that's usually an exercise in futility. You can only produce what you can produce no matter how long you make yourself sit in the desk chair.

Writers seem to have an internal production quota that says: "That's it. You're only getting a page today so go away and quit bothering the Muse. She's not interested in adhering to your publishing schedule."

General George S. Patton said: "Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired--morning, noon, and night."

I think my body gave up today. I took a nap instead of writing. I think I'm going to start the week Monday with a trip to the chiropractor or the massage therapist--whoever has an opening.

Takeaway Truth

Sorry, General Patton, sometimes, the body just rebels when the mind keeps pushing it. Sometimes, you just need a nice long nap or a weekend of leisure.

In the Garden of Deceit by Cynthia Wicklund

1 comment:
At last, my pain has been eased. Cynthia Wicklund published the last of her Garden Series.

In the Garden of Deceit (Book 4 of The Garden Series) is live and available on Amazon Kindle now. I've been eagerly waiting for this book since I finished the third book months ago.

The wait was worth it because James, Earl Lonsdale, is the kind of hero women want. Sure, he's handsome, but he's a man in need of the love of a good woman. Amanda Campbell, daughter of a wealthy businessman, is just the woman he needs. The trouble is that he doesn't know it yet, but, he suspects that may be the case.

James isn't a rake, and he isn't a scoundrel. He's a good man who sees to his responsibilities, and that's an admirable trait in a man, and in a fictional hero. It's those same responsibilities that nearly destroy his chance at happiness.

Cynthia Wicklund creates the most appealing characters and makes their sterling qualities as believable as their foibles. She imbues them with wisdom and creates heartwarming relationships that make you root for them to get their happy ending.

Just when you think that James and Amanda's love, built on deceit, cannot possibly withstand the truth, Ms. Wicklund waves her magic authorial wand and. . . well, you'll have to read In the Garden of Deceit to find out what happens. I can't loan you my copy because it's behind a digital lock and key on my keeper shelf.

Takeaway Truth

Wonderful love story. Get it today.

Found: 1,440 Minutes

3 comments:
To my dismay, I sometimes find myself using a time-worn phrase to explain why I didn't get something done.

"I haven't been able to find the time."

I hate saying that because I absolutely realize that no one finds time to do anything. You make the time.

Achieving or accomplishing something isn't a matter of happenstance. If you're waiting to find some time, you'll never achieve anything that requires a commitment of time.

You know you can't rummage through the attic and find some spare minutes. They're not lurking under rocks either. You make time, and you do it because something is vitally important to you.

Make Time

If you want to blog regularly, then you set up an editorial calendar that details how often you will blog. Make a commitment no matter how small that time increment may be.

If you want to write a book, you do the same thing. You make a commitment to plot it or outline it or do research or write a certain number of words or pages every day.

The same thing applies if you want to learn how to ballroom dance or make mozzarella cheese (as the heroine in my latest romance does) from scratch . Sit down and figure up how much time on a daily or weekly basis you can commit to the project, and take action to get it going.

Commit By Taking Action


That's right. Until you take action, your commitment is only a fantasy. Action moves it from the fantasy side of the ledger to the side of reality. After you've penciled in appointments with yourself on a calendar that indicate when you'll work on achieving that which you desire, take some action. Action makes it real.

If you want to dance, look up the phone number or website URL to get schedule information. If you want to write a book, sit down and start making notes about what kind of book, the premise, the characters. If you want to create web content regularly, sit down and brainstorm topics on which you can write.

Everyone is allotted the same number of hours in a day. Those hours amount to 1,440 minutes. Those who achieve use their time effectively. Quit making excuses. Quit killing time.

Takeaway Truth

Remember what Henry David Thoreau said? "As if you could kill time without wounding eternity?"

Don't wound eternity. Make your time count. Make each minute count.

Ebook Success: Rule #5, Price

5 comments:
Welcome! If there's an issue more hotly debated than cover art, it's price.

Most writers have a problem with ebook pricing. Many of these writers base their pricing strategies on ego and emotion rather than on market analysis and a business plan.

Today, I'm going to tell you what I think about ebook pricing so hang onto your hats. You may not like what I have to say.

Ebook Success: Joan Sells & Tells All

As you can see, I'm still playing around with a title for what will be a compilation of this series on SlingWords and many more blog posts about this subject posted on this blog and my old blog that I've terminated. I hope to have this published in a few weeks so you can have all the information in one place.

In the meantime, here's my book list for those of you who are new to the blog. If you've seen it before, just scroll down.

Just One Look

Still The One

JANE (I'm-Still-Single) JONES

The Trouble With Love

Romeo and Judy Anne

Written Wisdom

Parts Of This Series Previously Published

Ebook Success: Get Educated

Ebook Success: Write Business Plan

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 1

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 2

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 3

Ebook Success: Cover Art, Part 4


Ebook Success: Working With Cover Artists (addendum published the next day)

Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 1, Keywords

Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 2, Categories

Ebook Success: Ad Copy, Part 3, Bio & Book Description

Joan's Golden Rules

Here's my list of golden rules--called golden because I hope they will help you earn heaps of gold from your ebook sales.

1. Get educated.

2. Write a business plan.

3. Choose cover art wisely.

4. Write professional ad copy.

5. Choose price wisely.

6. Give a smart sample.

7. Write a good book.

8. Customize Marketing and Promotion.

Rule #5: Choose Price Wisely

I made a decision, based on the Business Plan I wrote, to price my first few ebooks at $.99. Here's why.

I'd analyzed many bestselling ebooks that were on the Top 100 Paid list. Of the Indie books, the majority were priced at $.99. I read all the popular Indie author blogs beginning with Joe Konrath. From the hundreds of Comments on Joe's blog, I followed writers back to their own blogs and book pages.

I charted the sales progress of about a dozen authors who were where I wanted to be--at the top of the Indie Author food chain. Clearly, part of their success was massive sales propelled by the low price point.

Still, as a print author, pricing a book at $.99 gave me pause. Yet, I knew that I hadn't been in print with a new book in some time. I decided to see myself as just another unknown self-publishing author.

If I were a reader perusing books by an unknown author, how would I base my buying decisions? I had a Kindle, and I knew I bought unknown indie authors--if the price was right. Would I pay more than $.99 for a book by someone I didn't know? Probably not.

Now, when I sample books by unknowns, if the sample is compelling, then I do go ahead and buy even if the price is higher. However, I decided to err on the conservative side and ignore the segment of discerning readers who investigate before buying. I focused on the readers who didn't do a lot of background work in buying a book. I think these are probably the vast majority.

In order to reach readers and build an audience, I decided to follow John Locke and many other Indie authors and price my ebooks low. I'll confess, it took some major cojones. It took even more guts to leave the prices low when the books took off, selling thousands every day. There's a part of you that whispers: "Just think, if this was priced at 2.99, you'd be getting a 70% royalty on all these sales."

Hang Tough

I can't tell you how many disparaging comments I've read about authors who price their books low. According to some, our books aren't worth any more than .99, or we're amateurs who don't know the true value of a book, or their books are worth much more than ours so they would never devalue their book by pricing low, or we are killing the publishing industry with our cheap books, or we are betraying authors everywhere by lowering standards of pricing which mean they can't make a living any longer, or you name it.

I've read it, heard it, or had it emailed to me. Even some readers who don't like your book will post nasty reviews calling in the price as part of the reason it's no good. If I had $.99 for every time I've read a review that says, "not worth .99" or "overpriced at .99," I'd buy myself a pair of those super expensive red-soled high heels.

A Book Is Worth

Commit this to memory.

A book is worth only what a reader is willing to pay for it.

Readers don't care how long it took you to write it or how much agony you went through or how this was the best book you ever wrote. Knowing that it took a year of pain and agony will not make them pay $9.99 or even 2.99 for it.

Readers revolt against high prices. Just check out one of the most popular tags on Amazon: 9 99 boycott. It's been used almost 40,000 times by readers to tag books they think are priced too high.

Free?

If you think a $.99 ebook gets no respect, try having a free ebook in your arsenal. There are many reasons to offer a book for free: promote your next release or gain new readers. Most readers happily try a free book, but some readers can't imagine a free book is any good. And writers? Oh, my goodness, many writers think free ebooks are the spawn of the devil or something similar.

Free gets you noticed--in a big way. Author Cynthia Wicklund wasn't selling huge numbers until Amazon put the first book in her Garden Series free to match Smashwords pricing. Overnight, she had tens of thousands of downloads. Satisfied readers were then happy to buy the next books in her series. She's remained a Regency Historical Romance bestseller because of that free book. Her new book In the Garden of Deceit is selling quite well at $2.99 now because of her fan base.

My Price Strategy

Though I haven't tried a free offering except for Summer Sizzlers, a book of excerpts to which I contributed and which took forever for Amazon to offer for free, I've maintained my $.99 prices until my most recent ebook Romeo and Judy Anne, Book 2 of Texas One Night Stands, which I brought out at $2.99.

I think my pricing strategy brought me to the attention of readers and helped me build an audience for my particular brand of romance. Enough readers like what I published initially that they have bought my other books. The Trouble With Love, the first book of the series Texas One Night Stands, remains at $.99 in order to introduce readers to the series. (Buy links to these 2 books appear above if you're interested.)

Future Pricing

Will I now price everything at $2.99? No. I agree with one of my favorite authors Andrew Vachss, who writes the Burke Series, that there are a lot of people who would buy more books if economics allowed them to do so.

I've received a lot of emails from readers who have thanked me for keeping my prices low. To me, $2.99 is low, but to many in this economic mess, it's too high. I've given the matter a lot of thought. I want to have low-price books available for readers who need the lower price point.

I'm going to continue with $.99 when it makes sense, like for The Good, The Bad, and The Girly, the novella series I'll be publishing. Each of those 4 will be at $.99. For longer novels, I will price at $2.99.

Before publishing any book, I'll analyze pricing again, and take into account several factors before making my final decision. That's one of the beauties of being an Indie Author, you can go with the flow and make adjustments on the fly.

Pro: Low Prices

Benefit from impulse purchases.

Reach new readers who are willing to take a chance because of low price.

Get instant momentum that propels you onto Bestseller Lists.

Con: Low Prices

Your book is perceived by many as lower-quality, and no one wants to waste time on a lousy book.

Impulse buys mean that readers don't read the book description much less the sample so you get readers who really don't like your genre in the first place. You'll see either massive returns or nasty reviews. I've seen a lot of those "1-star, hate this book because it's a blank and I don't read blank" reviews.

Wake Up & Smell The Coffee

I've been asked quite often lately to look at someone's book page and tell them why they aren't selling like I am. Of course, I like to think that I write entertaining books that offer escape from drab reality, but disregarding all other factors, often, these authors have a print self-published book that's priced higher than a NYT bestselling author's book.

Or, the indie author might have an ebook priced as high as one from a respected and popular author. You know why their books aren't selling. What surprises me is that they don't know.

Indie authors, start analyzing the competition that you are up against, and that competition probably isn't me.

It's Amazon sale deals to promote ebooks put up by publishers, and it's the thousands of previously-published Harlequin/Silhouette novels, Bantam Loveswepts, and Kensington books that got dumped on Amazon this summer. These books are priced from $.99 to a little over 3 bucks. In most cases, the author isn't making more than a few cents per book on the ebook editions. The publisher is the one cashing in.

Result For You

If you're priced higher than that, then you're up against the wall. All the print publishers have decided they want to milk that cash cow known as ebooks. I'm sure there are more to come because most of these print publishers have retained rights to thousands of books.

True, the vast majority of these books were written decades ago, and the world, and the taste of the reading public, has changed. For better or worse, that's your competition. Amazon will continue trying to offer benefits to print publishers, and that's going to affect indie authors. It's just good business on their part.

Smart Indie Authors Do This

1. Create your own good business practices that give you an edge.

2. Detach emotion from your decisions, especially from your pricing.

3. Don't be afraid to think outside the box and shake things up by changing the things that you control.

4. Always look for ways you can offer benefits to readers.

5. Worry about what you can control, not what Amazon and other authors are doing.

Why I'm Sharing

I keep getting emails wondering why I'm sharing all of my secrets--essentially everything I've had to work hard to learn. That's just the way I'm made. I know how hard it is to make a living as a writer. Like I've said, I'm not an expert. I'm just a working writer who has had some success.

I hope this will help shortcut the process for you. I hope you can achieve your own brand of success and have fun doing it.

Takeaway Truth

A rising tide floats all boats. I wish you magnificent ebook sales. If my advice helps, please let me know.

Note: If SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books or making a donation by clicking the button below or, perhaps subscribe, for only $.99 per month to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.