Thursday, February 21, 2013

Promoting Your Book

Promoting one's book is necessary both when self-published or traditionally published. It takes time and research, a great amount of wheeling/dealing at times and mostly patience. You can spend money to do this, such as placing ads on book sites, but it doesn't have to be expensive. There seems to be a certain amount of double standard thinking along this line. Amazon doesn't want paid reviews, but the prestigious Kirkus Reviews are by no means free.  So how does one go about getting his/her book noticed?

If you self-publish a book and do no promotion, chances are no one will ever read your book. Don't be shy, other authors certainly aren't and their wheels will out-squeak yours to get the proverbial grease. There are ways to to attract attention. Amazon's KDP lists promotional suggestions, among these being doing free Kindle weekends. What? Give away my wonderful, sweated-over, golden words for free? Yes, for free. I tried this last fall and my little-noticed book was downloaded over two hundred times. Did I make a dime? No. But this led to another promotion...

I've been following a very nice website called Mother/Daughter Book Reviews. A mother and her two children read books and review them on the site. There are both popular and indie books shown as well as guest reviewers, book giveaways, etc. I love any site that encourages kids to read and to give feedback on a book (or as we teachers call it, using their reading comprehension skills). I wrote to Renee, the site's hostess to see if I could submit Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher. To my surprise, she had downloaded my book during the free promotion and planned to review it in the future. She is currently accepting submissions. She has also started selling ad spaces on her site which led to another promotional idea...

There are a lot of book sites that make their expenses back through selling ad spaces along their side columns. They're usually very reasonable and last for weeks at a time. If you've ever placed an ad in a local newspaper, you'd appreciate the low cost of a book ad on these sites. Also, many of these sites boast readership in the tens of thousands. That's a lot of potential readers.

I'm not sure how I started getting Book Baby emails, but I do like some of their articles. A recent one gave a link to a site which lists 20 free e-book promotional sites. I'm exploring these now. I've discounted a few, but have now listed Delores on Ask David. There are only 1,967 books in the queue before mine, but I am a patient person. On to the next one in the list.

Social media is big. Use any form of social media you can to put the word out about your book. Make sure it is seen. One very fun, but addictive site is Pinterest. I now have a page devoted to all things Delores. I've included pins from craft sites or recipe sites which could be related to the story as well as artwork and brooms. If you do book signings, include pictures on your book boards as well.

Speaking of book signings, don't be shy about calling your local libraries. I have been turned down from certain counties which don't offer book readings for children by local authors. I view this as their loss, but mostly feel sad for the kids whose parents can't afford to take them to the book stores to buy them books. The live readings would enrich their lives and their imaginations. I have also been welcomed in small libraries and treated like royalty. The children were so wonderful. I came away as happy as the listeners.

Some local bookstores will also welcome you into their stores. You may do most or all of the promotion yourself, but it's all of the marketing plan that you need to have in place. Even with traditional publishing, after the initial book signing, which many don't do anymore, you're left to do a lot of the promoting yourself. You need to have a plan to keep your book afloat.

Sure, there are books that will always sell. They seem to have a permanent spot on the Barnes & Noble bookshelves. But, for the rest of us, there is limited shelf space left and the spots are hard to come by. So, get plenty of sleep, budget your time to research your options and make phone calls and emails. Your book is your baby and baby will need a lot of new shoes. So, keep writing and start promoting.

Monday, February 18, 2013

13 on Halloween (The Shadow Series #1) by Laura A. H. Elliott

I just finished reading Laura A.H. Elliott's first installment in The Shadow Series, 13 on Halloween, a YA fantasy novel. Roxie is the main character who turns 13 on Halloween. She manages to throw a birthday party for herself without her parents or nosy brothers finding out. Surprisingly, the most popular and coolest students at her school actually come to her party. They are the peacocks Roxie so desperately wants to be, not a dodo as she and her best friend, Ally, describe themselves. At the party, in a secret seance-like "game," Roxie is transported to Planet Popular, where she turns into the person she has longed to be. All is not perfect, however, when another girl goes missing. Back at home, Roxie finds her long-time friendship with Ally is strained to the breaking point. Should she return to Planet Popular or try to mend her friendship?

I feel the book would be enjoyable to a YA audience. The teenage angst seemed never ending at some parts, but then teenage angst also does this in real life as well. Anyone who grew up outside the glowing circle of the popular crowd could pretty easily relate to Roxie's longings and struggles to justify her pursuit of this presumably perfect world. Ms. Elliott's portrayal of the friendship breakup was believably painful as all breakups in real life are.

If I had any criticisms of this book, it would be of the editing. I feel that a closer edit would have corrected the occasional misuse of a word or grammar. I understand how easily it is to overlook a misspelled word when editing one's own work. But, once these are pointed out, they need to be corrected. One nice thing about publishing one's own work, at least through Create Space, is that you can go back and make corrections. In reading the reviews for this book, it seems I'm not the only one to note this. Any obvious mistakes takes the reader out of the flow of the story, which is a shame with this book. The story is original and I was compelled to read through even the extra peek at the next installment of the series before moving on to my next book.

I do recommend 13 On Halloween for anyone interested in YA romance. The author's use of animal metaphors is fun and I found myself rooting for not only the main character, but also her best friend, Ally.

Monday, February 4, 2013


I'm working on a new YA novel involving a new concept (actually an old one redesigned) called Zentangle. It involves drawing repetitive patterns on a small square of paper, using mostly pen and ink. I've been buying books for this for the last year or so and have become totally hooked on it. It is very meditative and relaxing. I went to my first class in Havelock, NC recently and loved it. I posted some other pictures on my crafting blog, Crafterdays. As you can see, I've started incorporating color with this. My plans are to continue to take classes, hopefully from several teachers, and to use it to illustrate some of my picture books. It's great by itself, but when combined with other art is really incredible.