Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Time to Catch Fire!

It was an interesting weekend at Book ‘Em and I’ll give you a full account on Thursday, including the time I got to spend with the wonderful Elizabeth Spann Craig. But today it’s all about one Ninja Captain and one of the nicest bloggers in the world!

Today is the Catch Fire Blog Party, celebrating the release of CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh! The goal is to help CassaFire “catch fire” on the best seller charts and achieve the success of the first book, CassaStar. There’s also a special package of prizes being given away at the author’s blog (copies of CassaFire, CassaStar, tote bag, mug, and bookmarks) as well as book giveaways during his two-week blog tour. See Alex’s BLOG for details.

by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend - to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Available today!
Science fiction - space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 240 pages
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:
“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

You can visit the author’s site HERE and his book is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Amazon Kindle.

Congratulations to Alex! I know he’s been working so hard to make this day a big success. (In fact, he worked so hard he became too sick to attend a book festival this past weekend.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Weekend Sillies, Skydiving, and Book 'Em NC

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes last week - do you know what I did? My husband surprised me by taking me indoor skydiving!

If you’ve never been, it is just incredible. We were first time flyers, so we got t-shirts and a video. We were only supposed to get three turns each in the tunnel, but our instructor treated us to a fourth (since it was my birthday) and shot us both to the ceiling three times. We dropped five stories in total freefall! I can’t wait to go again.

This weekend I am attending the first ever Book 'Em North Carolina in Lumberton! We have a meet and greet with the other authors Friday night, and I’m looking forward to old friends and meeting a few authors in person for the first time.

I Can Has Cheeseburger recently switched formats, requiring folks to become members in order to access the html coding for the pictures. I didn’t have time to mess with it this week due to Book ‘Em and a seminar to teach, so this weekend you get my own cats being goofy. They do it so well, too.


Why is everything upside down?

Ah, essence of badminton birdie...

Dear Lord, I'm covered in cats!

Don't shoot! I surrender.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stephen Tremp - Promoting Beyond the Bookstore

Today I welcome Stephen Tremp to share some promotional tips while I appear on his blog, Breakthrough Blogs, with marketing tips of my own.

I have to admit the closing of Borders Books and Music was a huge blow to me. I had many book signings there at the dozens of locations within driving distance of where I live. I had set up an account and Borders carried my books in their warehouse. I could call or email any Borders store in the country and ask tem to place a copy or three on their shelves. Over half would oblige. They were so easy to work with. For two years Borders was my meat and potatoes.

But things are different now. They’re gone and now Barnes and Noble (who I also had an account with) now refuses to carry my books or allow me book signings. So I had to take stock and look for other ways to promote OPENING other than virtual marketing through my Blog and other social media venues. And what I found, to my surprise, was a resurgence in sales of BREAKTHROUGH. Now that I’m with CreateSpace (I left iUniverse), I can buy breakthrough for under $6.00 a copy and sell them for a larger profit.

Example: I can purchase copies at $5.80 including shipping and sell them on the street for $10.00. As I thought this through, I realized I spent two to three hours at a book signing and made much less per copy sold. I can set up shop and sell where people are out and about and sell more books in the same amount of time. And I can repeat the process every weekend, often in the same spots, with similar results. And with OPENING coming out in paper form February 15th, I will have two books to sell! And having a second book opens up new opportunities.

Foot Work: I’m also doing some old-fashioned advertising. I’m printing flyers and my kids and I place them on people’s windshields. At first, I was hesitant to do this. But I can print of two color flyers per page at a cost of $0.015 per flyer. I cut the pages in half at Kinkos Copiers. And it only takes a few minutes to hit a hundred cars when we go to the mall, grocery store, or wherever. Tip: When printing flyers, use a lot of secondary colors. You’ll get more copies per cartridge rather than burning through one primary color and wasting the rest of your ink cartridge.

Grocery Stores: I’ve contacted most major grocery stores and chains like CVS and Walgreens. Just contact the main office and submit what they can purchase and sell a book for. I’m willing to let sell BREAKTHOUGH to them on consignment at cost. They can sell it at $12.95. That’s over seven dollars profit per book to them. I’ve made it three levels up the corporate ladder with two of these major chains. No decision yet, but they like the money they can make. My goal here is exposure and with OPENING out and ESCALATION due out this fall, I’m hoping people will purchase these at full price through Amazon.

Indie Bookstores: They’re Baaaack! Indie bookstores are becoming popular again and willing to take my book on consignment and do book signings. I love that personal touch! Most in my area will carry my books.

Hotels: I also found many of the hundreds of hotels of hotels will carry my books on consignment. I may make a buck or two off each copy sold, but they add up over time. Guests see them displayed on the lobby and are happy to buy a book with a local theme.

Question: What are some of the creative promotions you use or have you seen that work?

You can visit Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs. His books can be purchased or downloaded at Amazon and Smashwords.

Smashwords for $1.99

Thanks, Stephen. Be sure to visit Breakthrough Blogs for my suggestions on promoting in the real world.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest

This blogfest is hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, DL Hammons, Matthew McNish, and Katie Mills. We are to post about the origins of our writing. As there are so many participating, I’ll keep it short.

I was always an avid reader and won every reading contest in grade school. As an only child, I often had to amuse myself, so I developed an active imagination.

The writing bug hit when I was 13. I found a newly released paperback book called The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey. The cover captivated me and later led to a love of artist Michael Whelan. I devoured the book within a week and was soon reading all of her books.

Anne McCaffrey always focused on the characters, and I liked that aspect of her books. I began writing my own stories, including short stories, song lyrics, and two never completed novels. I easily wrote 5000 words every week for years.

But it was that day in the bookstore that sparked my urge to write. I envisioned my name on the book cover instead of Anne’s. Right there and then, I set my goal of becoming an author.

With six published books and another in revision, I can say my dream came true. My name is on a book cover!

Visit the hosts for others participating in the blogfest. And let me know what sparked your desire to write.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Speaking to Promote

Public speaking can be an author’s greatest marketing tool. It opens up unique promotional opportunities. It can supplement the author’s income. It sells books! And in today’s market, authors need to employ every possible angle.

At its most basic, speaking places the author in front of real human beings. The lure of the Internet has prompted more and more authors to remain hidden behind a website. While blogs and social sites provide a certain measure of interaction, it cannot replace real-world contact and physical appearances. Readers like to know about the creator behind the book, and meeting an author in person provides a human quality that is lacking online.

Not every writer is destined to be a professional speaker, but learning the craft is vital. For the introverted author too nervous to speak in front of two people, let alone a crowd, training is required. A media coach teaches poise and confidence. An organization such as Toastmasters offers critique sessions in a secure environment. Public speaking courses are available at almost every college. There are ample opportunities to train and prepare for public speaking.

Remember, there is power in the spoken word! Now, how do we use that power?

At the very least, every author should be able to discuss his own book. This will be required for signings, book readings, and library appearances. Book clubs and writer’s groups are also open to the author. These opportunities provide more than just a personal touch, as promotional materials distributed by the author can influence later sales. 

However, magic happens when an author moves beyond his book and develops a platform around his area of expertise. This should be a natural transition for the non-fiction writer. His education, skills, and experience led to the book’s creation, and he can build a platform around this very knowledge. This doesn’t preclude the fiction writer, though. Every book requires research, and a level of expertise is required to write fiction as well. Regardless of genre, all authors possess the ability to develop a platform and message.

The author who markets himself as a speaker gains several advantages. Professional speakers usually receive payment for their services. Speaking engagements can supplement royalties (which are rarely enough to live on) and the income from day jobs. These events often allow for back of room sales, netting additional income. An author with a platform is also more appealing to the media, as they want experts who can inform and entertain. The author who delivers what the media seeks and desires gains exposure to a far greater audience.

The list of venues for speakers is endless: libraries; businesses; schools; churches; colleges; writer and book festivals; organizations; clubs; conferences; etc. All of these provide an opportunity to reach a wider audience and generate greater books sales. Once established as a professional speaker, the author’s reputation will drive the sales of future books as well, thus laying the groundwork for a long career!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Today, it’s not so much an insecurity as just the unknown.

The industry is changing so fast right now. Since I teach seminars on publishing and promoting, I’ve worked hard to stay on top of things. There have been several major shifts over the past year and the one I’m most focused on right now is ebooks.

Last May I attended the SC Book Festival. Two things really stood out. First, all of the vendors reported less sales than the previous year. Some said by more than half. (I’d never attended the festival so had no point of reference.) Second, I was asked many times if my books were available as ebooks. I believe the two are connected.

On February 25th I will be participating in the first Book 'Em North Carolina Knowing the state of Robeson County, I feel certain many of those people will be seeking physical books. However, there is a big shift right now to ebooks. How well will the authors fare?

I’m fortunate that I’ll be one of only three authors selling ebooks. We are like the guinea pigs to see how well it works.

What will happen on February 25th is anyone’s guess. We’re going into the unknown. What do you think will happen?