Today I unleash a short I've been working on for a bit. It wouldn't seem something like this would take much "work", but for me, it did. I don't write kid's books. There's a reason for that, haha! While I can talk face to face to a child, for some reason I can't write like a child. So, after much work, including editing and cover work, I'm finally releasing to the world a new piece I have.
It's called Love You, Daddy. It's about the current child support system and one families struggle with that. Coming in at 3,500 words, it's a quick read. But, it's also emotional, so I'm told. Who would have thought that a short story about a family struggling and seeing life collapse virtually to ashes, through the eyes of a seven year old, would be so emotionally powerful?
Here's the blurb.
My daddy tries so hard.
I wish people would grow up and see what life is all about, like I do. I'm seven. I'm a big boy!
Help me fix this legal system thing so they don't take my daddy away from me.
I don't want your little boy or girl feeling sad or lonely like these law people make me feel.
Let's work together and fix this.
It's available on Smashwords and Amazon now, so enjoy!https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/180563
A picture is worth a thousand words. Or so they say. Are they right, or are they wrong?
Don't judge a book by it's cover. You also hear that all the time. Do you agree with it or not?
Well, unfortunately, we all do just that constantly. We judge books by their covers. We judge by the pictures we see. Our guest today has a bit to say about book covers. You just might find it interesting. Katie Jennings, take it away!
You never get a second chance to make your first impression. At least, that’s what my dad always told me, and he’s completely right! Think about your life in terms of the products and services you are exposed to on a daily basis…which ones stand out the most to you? Which ones really take off and which ones fall into the dark depths of obscurity? I’ll answer the question for you: the ones that succeed are the ones that draw in potential buyers with a clear, instant impression. In other words, a picture is worth a thousand words. Or, in our case as authors, a book cover is worth every single word you ever wrote in a novel.
Think about it. You’re perusing the aisles at Barnes and Noble, or scanning the Bestseller’s list on Amazon. What catches your eye? What appeals to you? Obviously, for every consumer the answer to that question is different. Which is why as authors we MUST know our market. We MUST know who we are trying to sell our books to.
As an example, take my book cover for Breath of Air, which is the first book in my contemporary fantasy series The Dryad Quartet. On the cover you see a girl, her face hidden so that the reader (I’m marketing to females, FYI) can easily slip into the main character, Capri’s, shoes. Much emphasis was put on her hair, so that readers can identify that Capri is the light, airy blonde in the book with a soft nature and sweet disposition (note: the bird on her shoulder is both representative of her “Snow White” qualities as well as her gift of Air). In the first chapter of Breath of Air, you learn that Capri can control birds, so having the bird on the cover was key.
Also note the castle in the background. This gives potential readers a clue as to the “type” of fantasy book Breath of Air might be. It’s clearly not set in a grungy New York alleyway or a sweltering Florida beach with palm trees. No, according to the distant image of the castle, the book will take place in a strange land, both elegant and extraordinary. It lends to the concept that Capri feels like something of a “princess” fallen into a realm she had never before imagined.
Okay, so the imagery is all very important, right? But what about when your book is shown in tiny thumbnail form in the midst of thousands upon thousands of other books? What is it that will cause readers to click on your thumbnail before someone else’s?
For me, anyway, it’s the coloring. Coloring is very important, but keep in mind that this varies drastically by genre. Is your book a thriller or horror? You should have dark colors, maybe reds and grays, and there should be plenty of contrast. Or, alternately, do a lighter version with big, bold text and contrasting images in stark black and white. Convey an emotion through the colors you use. If it’s a romance novel, the softer the colors and more dramatic the imagery (a woman with flowing hair, arching back, delicate hands, etc) the better. Readers will notice the book first by color, then by image. Think about your market and the readers you want to attract, and what colors may catch their eye.
So what about your title font? What I recommend is looking up other books in your genre, and seeing what other authors have done. Fantasy and romance books generally have loopy, calligraphy-like text. Thrillers tend to have bolder, stronger, harsher text. It is important that you get the text right. Make the extra effort and surf the free font download sites, and hunt up some new fonts to use. As long as it’s easy to read and available for commercial use, you should be good.
Lastly, I offer you my most important, crucial bit of advice, even though it will only appeal to some of you. But here it is anyway, because I honestly cannot stress this point enough: If you have a book series, make sure that each and every cover in that series is CONSISTENT with the other covers. And I’m talking style, imagery, title text placement, author name font and placement, etc. Readers should be able to easily identify that those books go together. It breaks my heart when I catch authors not following this important rule, because they are not imagining their books sitting side by side on a shelf. And that is how we must look at our work. We must think of ourselves as not just self published authors, but as good enough to be up there with the big boys, our books sitting right beside theirs. If we lose those high standards for ourselves, then the reputation for self published authors suffers.
So please, keep all of this in mind as you create your covers, and good luck!
As always, if you like what this author has to say in their guest spot, please patronize them by clicking on their book on the sidebar. I make absolutely nothing off your purchase through this site. I'm just glad to have them stop by and hope you get some pleasure from meeting another author.
Ever have that charitable cause that just pulls at your heart? That thing that almost gives you a reason for living? That organization that you'd work to your bones for? That only happens when something touches you deeply. So deeply, it impacts you and you'll never be the same. Some of us have experienced that while others haven't. Today, we'll hear about a cause from editor extraordinaire Laura Clark:
Late last year, I met a guy on Facebook. No, it’s not what you’re thinking. It wasn’t the beginning of some strange internet romance. It really was just a case of me finding someone who posted interesting status updates on a regular basis and deciding to friend him so I’d have something to read.
Well, this guy posted a lot of very positive and thought-provoking status updates. He got me started thinking, and feeling, things that I hadn’t in a while. One of the things I started thinking was that I wanted to use my major talent – writing—for something other than entertainment. I just wasn’t sure how.
Then one night my brother was talking about a project that the creative writing group at his college was putting together – a short book of flash fiction to raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. It was then that I decided to put together a collection of short stories for a different charitable organization. I knew that my co-conspirators might have pet charities they’d like to benefit from a project like that, but from the beginning I knew that only one organization would do – MusiCares.
So what is MusiCares? The MusiCares Foundation is a non-profit that helps music industry folks in times of need. They helped a lot of people after the massive Nashville flooding back in 2010. They provide medicine and food for those in need, or help pay medical bills or rent. They also help those who want to get clean and sober.
But why MusiCares? Because they once helped the very guy I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post. A guy who’d helped me pull myself out of depression and despair. A guy who helped me find my strength, my faith, and myself again. I didn’t have any way to pay him back, so I decided to pay it forward instead. I also liked the idea of helping others who might have a similar impact on other people’s lives. And so Music Speaks was born.
Music Speaks is a collection of eleven short stories, in a variety of genres, from nine independent authors. It pays tribute to music and its special kind of magic. 100% of the royalties will go directly to MusiCares to help keep that magic alive.
If you’re interested in reading some one-line teasers from each of the story, they are available here: http://t.co/f6nLhSd1
The book is available in ebook format for $2.99 at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble. The print edition ($6.99) is coming soon via CreateSpace and Amazon.
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/music-speaks-lb-clark/1111615979?ean=2940014693677As always, if you like what this author has to say in their guest spot, please patronize them by clicking on their book on the sidebar. I make absolutely nothing off your purchase through this site. I'm just glad to have them stop by and hope you get some pleasure from meeting another author.
Ah yes, helping a fellow author. You're either in the camp of "no problem, anything for a fellow author" or "are you flipping crazy? Why should I put myself out to click a mouse and help a fellow author?!"
Which ever camp you happen to find yourself in today, would you dig down...down a little further...just a wee bit further....gotta go lower than that...c'mon, you can do it...dig as deep as you can go...and click on this awesome FREE book of hers today!
It's only for today. Tomorrow it'll be paid again. So c'mon people, let's show some compassion and click to "buy" this FREE book!http://www.amazon.com/Everything-You-Jukebox-Heroes-ebook/dp/B0078EQ47O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340628843&sr=8-1&keywords=everything+you+are+clark
Your support is much appreciated ;)
As you see, in my right hand column, I've got my own books listed as well as books from several other authors. Not all of them are signed to my label, either, and I'm not an Amazon affiliate so I get absolutely nothing from most of the books in that column. But, I still hope you enjoy them and click on them to buy.
It's called marketing. And all of us indies need more of that. So, I'm sticking my neck out to do my part and then some.
With that said, I plan to start highlighting the books in this right hand column. Some days I will feature one or more books from that column, putting their synopsis in my blog post. Or, maybe what's hoped to be a synopsis on hyper-speed, hoping you'll like it more than the current one.
So, the first book I'm choosing to highlight is one of my own. In fact, my cheapest. All Jacked Up Prequel/Short Story. It is a prequel to the series and it's also a short story, coming in around 3 or 4 thousand words if I remember correctly. I've had two sentences on the synopsis for a while. I'm hoping the following illustrates the story a bit better. Let me know what you think:
Are Jack and the devil really linked? What possessed Jack to do such a horrendous thing to his father as a child? Will his father ever forgive him?
I remember when I first saw that sign touted by McD's. I was amazed. How could 1 million burgers be served? That's a lot of food. That's a lot of people. That's a lot of money!
Now, of course, that 1 million served is nothing.
Well, now I urge you to take a look at the million seller club on Kindle. There are a few indie authors in that. Right now, it's a big deal. For each author in the club, at least one million copies of their books, spread out over several titles, have been bought and paid for by paying customers. Mostly satisfied readers who come back for more. One million sales.
Can you imagine?
Thing is, regardless of what the naysayers say, such as Russell Blake and others (sorry if you're a fan of his), that one million sales mark will one day be no big deal. It'll be "normal" for any author that's been out for any length of time and has several titles out to hit that one million sales mark on Kindle.
I predict that, despite some saying the heyday for Kindle indies is over, it's just beginning. Sure, maybe Amazon changed it's algorithms. So what. So we have to adjust our Method Of Operation and figure out how to crack the great Amazon again. So we have to adjust our status quo once again. Such is the nature of business. Such is the nature of life.
Wouldn't it be worth that to make it into the million seller club?
I don't know. Maybe you don't have any desire to make it into the million seller club. Maybe you just want to sell to family and friends and then you'd be content. Personally, that's not enough for me. I want to make enough regular sales to have a cover artist and editor on retainer. Or at least give them enough business where they can substantially supplement their regular income by working for me. Well, the editor would have to work full time for me. That's all there is to it, lol. Then I'd have to have a lawyer on retainer to keep myself out of legal trouble, haha.
What would you do to make it into the million seller club? Would that club be worth it for you to spend that much energy and effort? Even at 35 cents a pop...multiply that by one million...do you realize that's $350,000? You can earn, cash in your pocket or electronic figures in the bank, $350,000 dollars to spend of your own free will by selling one million copies of your work at .99. Is that appealing to you?
And if you manage to sell one million copies at 2.99, that's barely over $2,000,000 when you figure that you'll make slightly over $2 per copy sold.
Personally, I'd take either of those amounts. But that's just me. And I'm greedy.
I've written about this recently, but it seems the need is still out there to have attention called to this matter.
Do we really WANT to support one another in our MUTUAL pursuit? I hope so.
I've just created a new facebook group for FREE books. http://www.facebook.com/groups/369867503068226/
Join it and help support each other.
It's like this...we can run around spamming our own wares to every other author and be upset when they don't bite...because WE aren't biting on theirs. OR...we can actually support the others first, so that when WE want support, they are more likely to oblige as well. When we run around spamming everyone else constantly with an "take mine" attitude without us giving anything in return, people get sick of seeing us.
Is THAT helpful for our marketing? Not so much.
So let's grow some guts. Have a tiny bit of courtesy. Of human decency. Of mutual respect. Of...common sense. Too bad common sense isn't common at all. Wonder who came up with that term anyway...
Let's change the trends...TOGETHER. Let's stop just spamming our books to every fellow author we come across. Let's band together and each author simply point and click to download the free wares to raise our fellow author's ranking. Let's help one another raise in Amazon's precious rankings so that ACTUAL paying customers will then see our individual wares. Let's help each other make actual cash. Let's stop pimping our own wares to every other author. Oh wait, did I already say that one?
Let's stop only pimping our own wares to every other author.
Wait...I feel like I'm repeating myself.
Well, maybe if some authors would listen...maybe if some authors would listen...maybe if some authors would listen...*slaps recording*
Help me create a new recording. Help me create a recording that says "All indies actually, honest-to-God support each other, it's awesome!"
Here's an idea from the Twilight Zone. How about we each make a commitment to start pimping other author's works and not touch our own. I will say this...from my own experience of doing just that, I've sold a copy of each book in my Jack series when I wasn't pimping them myself. However, when I pimped them myself every single day...they books were broken. Stuck. In the mud. Going nowhere fast. Zero to sixty in...well...in infinity because they never hit sixty, haha.
And that is a series from which the first book is in over 10,000 readers hands/kindles currently.
So, let's enjoy our personal Twilight Zone and flip the conventional thinking scenario on it's head. You just may be PLEASANTLY surprised. Give it a shot and see. What do you have to lose?
There's the million dollar question that you won't want to ask of Des Birch. Let's find out why...
Have you ever returned from vacation and have somebody ask you how it was? Have you ever returned from work and have someone ask how your day has been? How many times have you given a one-word answer to these questions? Often when I am relaxing, my wife Julie notices my fixed stare which she attributes to my being in ‘Storyland’. If the TV is on I might be gazing at the screen but she knows I am not watching it. Then I might stand up and head for my computer, writing for a time before returning to Julie’s ‘welcome back’ smile. How has my day been? Exciting, torrid, frightening, loving, exhausting........, but never just OK.
I work in an engineering company with murderers, rapists, drug barons etc, for my colleagues are the real people on which I base many of my characters. I live in a world over which I have complete control. Perhaps my daily work is just a fantasy and Storyland is the reality. Julie of course is the wonderful dream.
Being the wrong side of fifty, I have experienced much of life’s up’s and down’s. I also see cycles taking place in which young people experience the same challenges as we did in the struggle for the rite of passage into adulthood. I began to wonder how other species handled this, when a Storyland trance came over me and I eventually emerged with the idea for my YA book Beyond Dark Waters in which a little boy enters five different species, learning lessons from each. It was such fun to write and each day I would complete a section and read it to Julie and Elliott (an elephant, but you will have to read Different Eyes if you want to meet him). I was lucky enough to win an award for this book and it is my crowning achievement to date. I had written 110 pages of the sequel when this torrid, violent story of drug barons, torture and revenge came hammering on the inside of my skull, ready written and demanding to be put down in words. I told it that it was in a queue and that anyway I had far too much on this year, but to no avail. I’m now 70 pages into it and it seems to have calmed down a little, allowing me to study for the final part of my BSc Hon. Stories can do that!
So who am I? I am a father and a grandfather. I have a basic science degree and I have also spent a couple of interesting years in Europe teaching English. I believe in living life to the full. I currently have three novels and one book of short stories in E-format and paperback. Am I rich? Ha ha ha! I’ll never be rich; I like living too much and I need to be around real people who have problems that money can’t solve. I feel I am very lucky indeed. I have a loving family, great friends, a life full of intrigue and the ability to share that life with the world. Come and join me on Amazon and on my Facebook site.
As always, if you like what this author has to say in their guest spot, please patronize them by clicking on their book on the sidebar. I make absolutely nothing off your purchase through this site. I'm just glad to have them stop by and hope you get some pleasure from meeting another author.
I've been in a conversation with a couple of fellow indie authors about this issue.
They are wondering, and maybe even scared, to use their free promo days that Amazon gives to us for participating in their Select program.
So, why would these authors be afraid to use something a book GIANT is giving to us?
The sad reality is, they feel like we're damned if we do and damned if we don't. Why? Because there are a ton of fellow indie authors that will tear you to shreds because you want to give a copy of your book away for promotional reasons.
Here's a dose of reality that those NEGATIVE indie authors either miss or choose not to see. Free promos work in EVERY field. I don't care if a laundromat gives away one load of laundry to lure people in, a supermarket gives away some small item to lure business in, or a car dealer gives away a free detail job or some service to lure people in. The end result is the same, regardless of the industry. The business GIVES AWAY something to HOPE FOR DOLLARS in return.
And you know what else? It...WORKS. If freebies didn't work, brick and mortar businesses would not continue doing it. Hell, even internet based businesses do it. David DeAngelo, who works in the dating and seduction field, or pick up artist field, frequently gives away great tidbits. You know what else? He makes more than anyone else in that field. To the tune of $20 million dollars each year. So again, bottom line, freebies WORK.
Now, many indie authors will tear you to shreds if they so much as HEAR that you want to run a free day promo. They will preach to you that you're devaluing all of our collective works. If that doesn't convince you not to do a free day, then you're just scum who can't write a lick to save your life.
Seriously, this is what we call SUPPORTING each other? I think not.
Who cares if you personally HATE the free days. You know what, the other author is not giving YOUR book away. Unless of course you have asked them to. They are trying to promote THEIR book. So lay off and learn how to actually show another human being some honest-to-God support.
Drop the jealousy you're feeling and show a fellow indie true support.
Here's another reality check. I've talked before about Pixel of Ink and ENT and how they are currently the only viable venues to really get your book noticed on a free day. Well...that's not exactly true. It is, but it isn't. The reality is, there are enough authors within the indie community that SAY they will do ANYTHING to support their fellow indies. Well, if all of these indie authors would put their mouse where their mouth is, we'd see a lot more ACTUAL support.
What do I mean? I don't mean you have to go out and spend your hard earned dollars, buying every book that your fellow authors publish. Not at all. And some of you just ignored that last line. You have no idea what I said.
Ok, listen up. WITHOUT SPENDING A PENNY YOU CAN SUPPORT YOUR FELLOW INDIES SO EACH OF US CAN ACTUALLY MAKE REAL CASH.
Let's try this again.
When a fellow indie author has a free promo day, there are enough of us indie authors in all of our communities that we can raise up each indie author on their particular free promo day. That means you simply DOWNLOAD A FREE COPY. Is that REALLY so hard?
I don't care if you only have a PC, a Mac, don't have a Kindle, do have a Kindle, only have a Nook, what ever. It doesn't matter. Period. If you have a PC, download the app for Kindle for PC. If you have a Mac, same thing. If you only have a Nook...I'm sure you have a computer as well. SURELY you see where I'm going without me spelling out EVERY detail.
Ok, now that we're on the same page there...here's the next step.
When a fellow indie has their book up for a free promo day....DOWNLOAD a FREE copy!
"But I already have it" you say.
Awesome for your support! Now....DELETE IT AND DOWNLOAD ANOTHER.
Or, if Kindle won't let you do that, download it to a different device, like a different computer. In other words, there is SOME way that you can download another FREE copy. We're just too damn lazy to help others, it seems.
"But I don't download what I won't read. Period."
Well, that tells me and the rest of the community that you DON'T truly support your fellow indies. I personally do download TONS of books I probably won't ever read. Seriously, what does it COST ME? Nothing, other than a few seconds to make a click.
Then, there are other authors who simply hate the guts of some fellow indies. Yeah, that's really supporting your community too. GROW UP.
Look, here's the bottom line. The reason why Pixel and ENT are SO effective is simply their reach. They have the ability to reach THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of people, individual readers. It takes THOUSANDS of downloads for each book to pop the number one spot in your particular genre.
Thing is, if your book does NOT hit the number one spot, it won't stay afloat as long after the free day. If it doesn't at least crack the Top 10, your free day was wasted.
Here's another part of this reality check. There are enough authors in our communities as a whole to get each individual fellow indie author SEVERAL thousand downloads on EACH of our free days.
So, to recap, drop your hatred, grow up, click a book even if you don't like it (just hit delete), and help that fellow author to hit that coveted number one spot. It hasn't cost you a single penny to show support. Yet, by that author hitting number one, THEY will now have the opportunity to have TONS of new, fresh eyes seeing their work. IF their work has merit, it may hold the Top 10 for a while, while gaining actual paid sales that YOU are paying nothing for. You simply clicked your mouse. If their book does not have merit, it will soon vanish into the ether, therefore not hurting you or your book anyway.
So again...WHY is it SO hard to show TRUE support to your fellow indie author???
C'mon. AS A COMMUNITY WE ARE STRONG. Divided, we fall.
Alright, I've run these free promotional days on KDP Select several times now. I've also had books free through another method that would likely be considered old school now.
I've had exactly one very successful free promotional day.
The bottom line about the KDP Select free days are...the free day in and of itself is absolutely nothing more than a tool. There is no magic in it. Your book absolutely will not jump in the rankings simply because you schedule a free day.
In fact, just as you would normally promote your rear end off when your book is selling for a monetary figure, you'll also need to promote your rear off for the free promotional day or days that you schedule.
"But I thought you said you've had one very successful promo day," you ask.
Yes, you're right. And here's the difference.
Ok, for the promo day I just had, I gave away approximately 150 copies....TOTAL in the US of my book. My ranking peaked at 25 from what I saw. And, during this day, my book was tweeted by myself and a few others through out the day. It was also facebooked by myself and a few others through out the day. Plus it was promoted by Flurries for Words (or something like that), Author Marketing Club or one of their lists, and a couple of other venues. In other words, my book was promoted by a few different venues and several individuals. And that resulted in about 150 copies in the US. Yes, I had some in the UK as well, and 1 copy in each of a couple of other countries. Seriously, one copy. But, I'm focusing on the US numbers because that's normally our bread and butter.
Now, the very successful day I had, I literally had a couple of thousand downloads of my book before I even remembered that it was free that day.
What was the difference?
It kinda makes me sick to say this, because it makes me sick to admit that we authors are dependent on one or two different sites/venues to "make us" successful. But, here's the rotten truth. That one day, my book was mentioned by Ereader News Today.
This round, my book was mentioned by three or four other sites along with friends and myself pimping it all day. for a grand total of 150 copies in the US. When Ereader News Today (ENT) promoted it, it downloaded around 3,000 copies total in one day without me saying a word.
In fact, from what I've gathered, if ENT or Pixel of Ink promote your book, you can actually expect around 3,000 copies to be downloaded in one day.
When this many copies are downloaded in one day, this shoots your book up to the top or near the top of the chart in your genre. My book, All Jacked Up, stayed at the number one spot for a day or two when ENT mentioned my book.
P.S. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the other venues that you can use for book promotion on your free days. In fact, I think they are doing a great thing...AND I wish they were much bigger than they are and have much more impact than they do. I hate it that the only sites with a real impact are Pixel and ENT. In fact, if you'll look at this very website of mine, I have a section on this for free books. I'm trying to build this site up to have the kind of reach that Pixel and ENT have, and hopefully help more authors get their names out there. So please, check out my page on this site as well.
Back to my original point. Here's the benefit of KDP Select. Once your free day is over, or days, your book automatically goes back to being charged for. If you go "old school" as in through Smashwords and that process to get Amazon to go free, you will have a harder time getting your book back to paid. With Select it automatically goes back to paid.
Other than that, KDP Select does absolutely nothing in and of itself for your book as far as promotional value.