Promotion and Authors

by Roxanne Rhoads

Promotion- it’s a bad word for many authors…downright evil… but a necessary evil.

A small percentage of authors revel in the spotlight and have no problem talking, promoting, and selling.

But most of us…well we’d rather be writing. And not writing about our books or ourselves, just writing the books.

What happened to the days when the reclusive author typed away in their little hermit like abode, sent the manuscript off to a publisher who handled everything and the author sat back and got rich while writing more books?

Image from http://authoritypublishing.com/book-marketing/internet-radio-promotion-for-authors-how-ive-booked-20-shows-in-less-than-two-weeks/

I think that image is a fairy tale, I’m not sure if that was ever a reality at all but when I was young that’s how I envisioned the author’s world. Then I started writing books- and thought that once a publisher accepted and published my work the hard part was over. Boy was I wrong.

Thanks to the internet and technology more books than ever are being published every day- and it’s very easy to get loss in the ever growing a sea of pages and book covers.

What can an author do to stand out from the crowd?

Promotion.

Yes, there’s that damn word again but honestly it’s what can make or break your book. The other, I swear, is simply luck, and maybe a pact with the devil.

I’ve seen amazing books totally tank in sales and crap books, poorly written with sentences that run on and are hard to read, make the bestseller list on Amazon, repeatedly.

Why? Promotion.

For the past several years I have been on a quest to learn everything I can about the book business and book world, from all angles- author, editor, publicist, reviewer, book blogger, even publisher (I self-published a short story collection this year)- and I’ve learned a lot.

So what words of wisdom can I share with authors who are looking for the secrets to book success?

First of all- web presence.

What’s the first thing many people do when they hear about something- whether it’s a book, business, or new product?

They Google it.

That’s why an author should have a website- a good one, a professional one that showcases their author/book brand. If you write paranormal books your website should have a hint of the paranormal in it- should it showcase screaming skulls and blood dripping fangs? Probably not. Keep it tasteful and professional while making it clear you are a paranormal author, or romance author, or whatever.

Your website can sell you and your books 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all over the world. Nothing else can reach as wide an audience 24/7.
The author website should have 6 key things to be successful- a way to contact you, your bio, your bookshelf (if you write in different genres or have a couple different series then you should have separate pages for each genre or series), a calendar or schedule of author appearances whether in the real world or online, a page of fun stuff and/or links that relate to your books, and your media page which should contain an author photo, media ready bio, sample author Q and A, links to all your social media sites and your most recent book cover and blurb.

I also suggest having a regularly updated blog and newsletter that readers can subscribe to. The blog and website can be combined into one if you have standalone pages that link to the key things an author website needs. Visit http://www.roxannerhoads.com/ to see a website/blog in one. It’s still a work in progress but it has the basics.

Also be sure to utilize Author Central at Amazon, you can add your links and blog feed to your author page.

Which brings me to the next thing an author needs to utilize…social media- Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads- these are some of the most popular social media outlets for connecting with readers and other authors. The idea is to build is solid foundation of reader and author followers. Do this by posting fun and informative tweets and updates- not just promo. And you can link all your accounts together through apps at Twitter and Facebook or through outside apps like HootSuite.

An author should also stay up to date on what’s popular and working in the online book world- for example: book trailers, book soundtracks, Twitter parties, virtual book tours.

Do book trailers or soundtracks sell books? In my opinion no, but they are great tools for sharing your book (these would fall under that fun stuff category above to include on your website).

Virtual book tours, however, are one of the best ways to spread the word about your book. You can reach a worldwide audience without ever leaving your home at a tiny fraction of the cost of a real world book tour.

The goal is not just book sales but reaching out and gaining new followers. After a book tour you should see the subscribers list to your newsletter has grown, you have more Twitter and Facebook followers, and the number of blog followers you have has increased- and hopefully your book sales have skyrocketed.

So what do you do during a book tour? You’ll write guest posts, fill out and interviews, and sometimes participate in live chats and podcast and radio interviews at different blogs and sites around the web. The book tour company will schedule everything.

The key is choosing the best company for your book- find a company that has handled many books in your genre and that shows a good track record. If you only see one or two previous tours done by this company perhaps you should move on to the next book tour company- and new ones pop up every day. Do your homework before laying down the cash. While no book tour business can guarantee sales or great reviews they should be able to provide you with proven capability, organization and a certain amount of tour stops based on what you paid for.
Are real live book events things of the past? No, not at all.

By all means go out to local book stores, libraries, seasonal and holiday events and set up signings, schedule fun events that will bring people in- work with other authors to create group things that draw a crowd.

For instance if you write paranormal books- get out there at Halloween events and sell your stuff. Set up tables for sales and signings at Halloween reading and parties at local libraries, (schools too if your book is kid oriented), hayrides, even haunted houses. Work with your community to promote your book. You might be surprised at how many local businesses and event planners will be thrilled to have something unique and special (like an author) be a guest at their holiday event.

And be sure to bring business cards, bookmarks or even the hot new thing in real world book promo- book trading cards, to all your live book promotions. Pass them out at local libraries and bookstores too.

The key is- get out and promote. You are not going to get anywhere as an author being a hermit and hiding in your house tapping away at the keys of your computer.

Publication is only the beginning of the process…promotion is the road to success.

~Roxanne Rhoads is the owner of Bewitching Book Tours and is a paranormal romance author, book blogger, and book reviewer.

Keys to Superb Dialogue

by P.C. Zick

Photo from http://www.ennaeurope.org/ennaws/news/read/1:811:Structured_Dialogue_Group_on_ESIF_looking_for_experts.html

Dialogue in fiction is essential, and good dialogue is crucial. Nothing kills a book for me like poor dialogue. The plot might be intriguing, the characters worth getting to know, and the setting gorgeous, but if the dialogue is stilted and poorly executed, I’m ready to put the book down. I want to read and write dialogue that sings.

Here’s my best advice on dialogue: Use it, but do not abuse it. All writing benefits from strong dialogue. It moves the plot along, and it develops character better than any other technique in the writer’s toolbox. However, many novice writers abuse it by not understanding how to write it.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about writing dialogue.

Learn the mechanics of dialogue. This helps the reader understand. Some contemporary authors are trying new techniques for displaying dialogue with novels, but it only confuses me and causes me to pay more attention to the punctuation or lack of it than to the pleasure of reading a story. Here is a correctly punctuated line of dialogue:

“Leave me alone,” she said.

Avoid dialect to characterize characters. It only detracts from the reader’s understanding. It’s been done superbly, but unless you know you can do it, leave it alone. I attended a writer’s workshop several years ago with Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek, a book set in the Appalachian Mountains one hundred years ago. He said rather than use the dialect of the time and setting, he had the characters use certain words that gave their speech distinction rather than using gonna, goin’, ‘bout. For instance, the character would most likely use the word “fetch” instead of “get.”

Do not put a “he said” or “she said” after every line. If two people are speaking, it becomes clear to the reader which character is speaking the alternating lines. Interject after several lines to remind the reader. Here’s an example of two characters, Simon and Caroline, in conversation in my novel Trails in the Sand:

“No easy days in sight,” Simon said.
“That’s very true, but we’ve weathered worse,” Caroline said.
“Like the time we capsized the canoe and lost our oars?”
“I have never been so cold in my life.”
“You should try ice fishing in Pennsylvania in January. Then tell me about cold.”
“That’s just unnatural and the very reason I live in Florida.”
“So you wouldn’t move back to Pennsylvania with me?” Simon asked.
“Not on your life,” Caroline said.

You can go for a bit without using the names and “he said/she said,” but don’t go too long without injecting it or the reader becomes lost. I read a novel recently where they didn’t use any designations about who was speaking. The reader was left to guess who was speaking. It guessed me right out of continuing to read the book

“He said” and “she said” are the best to use, if not overused. Do not add qualifiers, such as “he said with a smile on his face.” Also, don’t use adverbs to describe how it was said: “Leave me alone,” she said sternly. Write the dialogue so it is clear that the speaker is smiling or speaking sternly. Let your words show the story without you telling the reader.

Leave out interrupters such as “Well,” “uh,” “um,” etc. It slows down the reading.

Listen to others speak. We rarely speak in complete sentences. Listen to the differences in speech patterns with different speakers. Try to distinguish your characters by their speech. Perhaps there is a phrase they use or a way of speaking that not only distinguishes their speech, but also creates characterization. However, be careful with this technique. If it’s overused, you’ll surely annoy the reader.

Read your dialogue aloud. Would real people speak in the way that you have written it? Using the dialogue of real people is certainly easier than fictional characters, if you really listen to them. We usually create characters that come from composites of real people, so why not create dialogue that comes from real people as well.

Your goal in writing is to make the reader forget they’re reading. You want them lost in the story and if your dialogue sings, they won’t even notice the agonizing pains you took to make it so.

I know there are many other techniques out there. I learn every day I write, and I’d like to learn from you as well. What makes dialogue sing for you?

How audio books landed me movie deals

by Ashley Fontainne

No, it’s not a typo. That’s deals, plural. I am beyond thrilled to officially announce the Option Agreement for the Eviscerating the Snake trilogy is completed and the ink dry. The three screenplays for Accountable to None, Zero Balance and Adjusting Journal Entries are currently underway.

I am still in shock!

In April of 2011, when I first unleashed Accountable to None on Amazon (unedited and with my own cover–gasp!) thoughts of Hollywood were nonexistent. I uploaded the book out of sheer curiosity, and to see if my college creative writing instructor was just blowing smoke when she gushed over the story. Never, in a million years, would I have dreamed Accountable to None would make it to the Top Ten in thrillers on Amazon (which it did in December of 2011–after undergoing a thorough edit). By the time the sequels, Zero Balance and Adjusting Journal Entries were finished and uploaded for sale, my knowledge of the publishing industry had grown by leaps and bounds. Credit for my newly learned information goes to the wonderful folks at Blue Harvest Creative.  From their stellar cover designs, beautiful interior layouts and vast array of marketing knowledge, they helped me create polished pieces of work.

By the time I wrote the thriller novella, Number Seventy-Five, I was a full-fledged believer and staunch supporter of Blue Harvest. In fact, I named them my official book designers and haven’t looked back since. When I sent Number Seventy-Five to them for the creation of the cover, they outdid themselves when they created this:


After reading the story and creating the fabulous cover, they encouraged me to do two things that changed the trajectory of my career. First, they suggested I enter the book in the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards (where it won the BRONZE medal for fiction/suspense in 2013) and secondly, they suggested I have an audio version made.

I was only two years in to the whole new world of writing and the thought never occurred to me to look at the avenue of audio books. However, I heeded their suggestion and went to Audiobook Creation Exchange (better known as ACX) and listed Number Seventy-Five as a title looking for a narrator. I lurked around the site and listened to several voice clips of potential narrators until one slammed me in the chest when I heard it.

Actress Sabrina Stewart possessed the perfect voice to portray the main character in Number Seventy-Five, Mandy Russell. I immediately contacted her and sent her the audition sample. Within days, Sabrina was officially the voice of the story and within weeks, the audio version was completed and up for sale.

A week or so after the audio book was completed, Sabrina mentioned she felt the story would make a great movie and asked if she could pitch it to several producers/directors she knew in Hollywood. I was honored and quite shocked, but really didn’t give too much credence to her request. After all, the story is only 74 pages…

Audio book sales began to trickle in, so I decided to list the Eviscerating the Snake trilogy on ACX. Yet another actress, Sara Morsey, auditioned. When I listened to her beautiful voice, I knew she embodied the spirit and soul of the heroine, Audra Tanner, as well as the rest of the characters. Within a few months, Sara recorded all three of the books and we were in business.

During that time, Sabrina found the right partners and contacted me with news I never expected to hear: Number Seventy-Five had people interested in making it into a feature film. It took me a while to really ingest her words. It couldn’t be real! My shock was finally put to rest when Sabrina connected me with the Director of Photography and Executive Producer, Amir Jaffer, and the Director, Michael Regalbuto. When things began to come together and actors such as John Sarno, Dave Vescio, Rob Nelson and Susan Kay Thompson joined the project, the reality finally settled in that this was real!

The team at Blue Harvest Creative designed the movie website and things are moving forward. And it was the connection with Sabrina, Susan and Michael that landed the next option.


The fantastic narration by Sara Morsey of Accountable to None, Zero Balance and Adjusting Journal Entries caught their attention as they listened to the audio books. The next thing I knew, I was contacted about their interest in optioning ALL THREE books.

Below is a representation of how I felt when I found out:


In only thirty-eight months since I first dove into the crazy world of publishing and became an Indie author, my life has changed in ways I doubt I will ever truly fathom. I was overjoyed when the first book was optioned, but am beyond ecstatic at the addition of three more. Highly trained professionals with reputations made with each work they are a part of want to make my books a part of their collection of works. WOW!

If it weren’t for fans of the books who bought, read, reviewed and told others, I wouldn’t be typing this blog post. My heartfelt thanks goes out to each and every one of you who took a chance on an Indie and became a supporter. I also want to thank the team at Blue Harvest Creative for their guidance and belief in me and my thrillers. Of course, the incredibly talented Sabrina Stewart and Sara Morsey for infusing my books with their wonderful narrations, deserve huge kudos. And Sabrina! Not only am I excited to see you bring Mandy Russell’s character to life on the screen, but I can’t wait to attend the premier so I can hug your neck!

And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank Audiobook Creation Exchange for opening up the opportunity for Indie authors to have their print/ebooks turned in to audio versions. Because without that avenue, I wouldn’t be able to see on the screen…

Based on the novel by Ashley Fontainne

Source – http://ramblingsofamadsouthernwoman.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-audio-books-landed-me-movie-deals.html?m=1