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7 Ways to Market and Promote Your Books Without Breaking the Bank

April 9, 2017 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing Classes tagged as , , ,

7 Ways to Market and Promote Your Books Without Breaking the Bank | Kitty BucholtzPerhaps the most difficult part of a writer’s career is selling your books. Whether your book is traditionally published or self-published, trying to figure out how to let readers know your book is available can be enough to make you tear your hair out.

In this 4-week online class, learn at least seven things you can do to find your readers and tell them about your book. We’ll look at creating newsletters (including why, what to say, and how often to send them), giveaways, free promotions, free advertising, paid advertising, Facebook ads, box sets, and more!

Join us and find more ways to increase visibility of your books without emptying your wallet. It’s easier than you might think!

To join:

Taught by Kitty BucholtzKitty Bucholtz


Kitty Bucholtz writes superhero urban fantasy and romantic comedy, often with an inspirational element woven in. After she earned her MA in Creative Writing, she decided to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher, forming Daydreamer Entertainment and self-publishing her first novel in late 2011. Founder of WRITE NOW! Workshop, she loves to teach writing workshops online and in person.

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Why Cover Designers Want Your Title to Be as Short as Possible (unlike this one)

April 8, 2017 by in category Art, Cover, Design by H. O. Charles tagged as , ,

I’ll let you into a little secret: wordy titles (and also looong author names, if I’m honest) are HARD WORK for a cover designer. Really, we should be charging extra for them. Perhaps £10 extra per letter for any word more than one syllable long would be sufficient. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time would have netted me £380 before I’d even started doing any art…

* laughs dreamily *

I joke, of course, but if you are into art and design, and you recognise that a reader will judge a cover before they judge a title, then you might start to see how less is more…

Here’s a worked example (very hastily put together, I should add), but hopefully it will show you how a short title (and even author name) can help you achieve that impactful, minimalist look.

The first cover is simple, no-fuss and easy to read. The text doesn’t have to be huge, and I can keep everything neatly squared.


If I want to go for a really modern approach, I can blur out the background entirely, which gives the title text much more weight, and gives me the freedom move the author name about. I can even play with light. Of course, this would work better with a more recognisable image than a Chinese archway, but you get the general idea…


Then we have a longer author name. The colours I can use for it are now more limited if I want it to remain legible, and it needs balancing out with some text at the bottom. Still, it looks fine because the most important piece of text (the title in this case – Andy Pantaloons is not that famous) is short.


Things are getting tricky with this longer title! At this point, I would usually change the font and tweak the letter spacings to see if it would look better, but for the purposes of explaining the impact of title length, I’ve left it the same. It’s still just about okay, but if the author wants more images, the chances are they will fight for attention with the text.


Time to pack my bag and go home! What a mess! There is just too much image for a title that size, and so I would either consider getting rid of the arch altogether, or throwing my laptop against the wall.


Of course, it is down to the designer to take whatever title you throw at them and make it look good, and we have a tonne of tricks for doing that, but if you like the minimalist look, and you want your cover to appear modern, AND there is an idea you want to convey in pictures, then consider a short title paired with a single, powerful image. This is one of my favourite examples from another designer (Eric White):

All of that said, here’s how a long title can look good. This cover is by Ervin Serrano, who did a brilliant job with the “The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime” but you can see how he had to sacrifice images (almost) altogether in order to make the overall design work and remain clear.


And of course, certain genres *demand* busy artwork, so I’ll neatly lever my most recent fantasy cover design in here, and thank you for reading!


H. O. CharlesH.O .Charles, a cover designer and author, was born in Northern England, but now resides in a beige house in Suffolk.

Charles has spent many years at various academic institutions, and really ought to get on with writing a PhD, but frequently becomes distracted by writing fantasy fiction instead.

Hobbies include being in the sea, being by the sea and eating things that come out of the sea.

Cover designs:


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April 7, 2017 by in category Eye on Hollywood by Bobbie Cimo tagged as , ,

Sandra Dee and Sonby Bobbie Cimo

The first time I saw the movie, Gidget, I was hooked on Sandra Dee. Not only did I think she was cute and spunky, but she ended up with Moondoggie. And who wouldn’t want to end up with James Darren? I’ve seen the original Gidget movie so many times that I’ve lost count of just how many times. And even to this day, although I have the DVD, every time the movie comes on TV, I can’t help but stop whatever I’m doing and watch it again. I found out I wasn’t alone in this weird addiction when at a recent concert I overheard a woman confessing to a friend the same thing–only she admitted to knowing the movie’s dialogue verbatim–whereas I can only paraphrase it. Oh, and by the way, headlining that concert, was none other than James Darren, looking as gorgeous as ever, which has me thoroughly convinced there’s a Dorian Gray painting somewhere in his attic, aging by the minute, as I’m writing this.

By the time I was old enough to move to Hollywood, Sandy had reached early adulthood and her promising career seemed to have come to a complete standstill. Either because the parts weren’t there for her, or she had decided to become a full-time mom to the son she had with Bobby Darin. Whatever the reason was, I missed seeing my favorite actress on the screen–and the chances of ever seeing her in person seemed even less of a possibility. And outside of being mentioned in a song from the movie, Grease called Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee, it was as if she had disappeared–or at least she had from the Hollywood scene.

It wasn’t until the early nineties that Sandra Dee, now in her late forties, resurfaced into the public eye by making the cover of People magazine and sharing with the world the story of her childhood sexual abuse. Later that same year, she made what many thought, including myself, a comeback to acting when she did a play at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills called Love Letters. Co-starring with her was another teen idol by the name of John Saxon. The two, many years earlier, had shared billing in the movie, The Reluctant Debutante. It was heartwarming to found out that the two were being teamed-up again. And I became ecstatic to learn as a birthday gift, I was being treated to the play. Finally, I was going get to see Sandra Dee in person. And what was even nicer is when I spotted James Darren in the audience. How sweet was that? Moondoggie there to lend his support to Gidget. Because I was on a date, I was forced to behave…no ogling in public, I could only admire Mr. Darren from afar. Darn it! I work so much better when I’m on my own. But I did have a seat close enough to the stage to see that although she was now older, Sandy still had a sweet face and the sparkle that she had possessed in her eyes during her youth was still there.

Even though her performance in Love Letters got rave reviews, she once again disappeared from the limelight. It wasn’t until 1994 when her son, Dodd Darin wrote a book about his mother and father’s life called, Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee, that she came back onto the scene. The book was well written and gave a true account of his parents’ lives, including his mother’s sexual abuse, eating disorder and her bouts with alcoholism and depression. He also wrote about his father’s drive to live every moment of life as if it was his last (the result of overhearing a doctor telling his family he probably wouldn’t make it to adulthood, due to a heart ailment).

When I got word, that Sandra Dee was going to be at a book signing with her son at Brentano’s bookstore at the Beverly Center, I was thrilled, but not really certain she would show up. But I was wrong. They were both there for the signing and to greet their fans.

Like all good mothers, she stood in the background and let her son enjoy his moment of glory as an author. And Dodd, like a good son, seemed protective, loving and respectful of his mother. It was obvious, together, they were a team.

Sandra Dee at the book signing was in her early fifties. She had led a difficult life, but there were no telltale signs showing in her face. And when I talked to her, she was just as down to earth as the girl next door, who was now grown up. I’m sure she had heard it a thousand times how much her movies had impacted a young girl’s life, but when she heard it from me, she pretended like she had never heard it before. Happily, I walked away with my dual autographed copy, signed by mother and son, of  Dream Lovers and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon over lunch with my own mother, who I had dragged with me to the signing. At last, I had met my girlhood idol and the real Gidget.

I’ll never forget the day Sandra Dee died, it was on Feb 20th (2005), which coincidentally happens to be the date of my own sister’s birthday. We were on our way home from celebrating when the news came across the car radio. I didn’t cry, I didn’t gasp in shock, I just kind of went numb. The way you do when you hear of the unexpected death of an old friend–one you hadn’t seen in a long time, but still considered them part of your life. The news is so surprising you can’t immediately register your emotions. I will always feel sad about her passing, but luckily, I can say, “Look at me, I met Sandra Dee.”

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April 6, 2017 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston tagged as , ,

Pets, romance anPets Romance & Lots of Suspenced lots of suspense. That’s me! Or at least that’s my theme on the revamped A Slice of Orange blog.
Why? Well, first, everything I write these days includes dogs, including my paranormal romances for Harlequin Nocturne, my mysteries that I write for Midnight Ink, including my Barkery & Biscuits series, and, soon, my new K-9 Ranch miniseries for Harlequin Romantic Suspense.
Also, everything I write includes romance. As I mentioned, I write for two Harlequin series, which are, of course, romances. And all the protagonists in my mysteries have romantic interests. The mysteries don’t always have a HEABad to the Bone
(happily ever after) when it comes to the romances, but of course the mysteries get solved in each one.
And that leads me into suspense. Everything I write also includes some degree of suspense, not just my mysteries but also my romances–and I don’t just mean my Harlequin Romantic Suspense novels.

So join me here at my Slice of Orange blog on the sixth day of each month, and I’ll be sure to include something regarding one or all of those themes.
CovertAllianceCoverBy the way, I have two new novels about to be published: Bad to the Bone, the third Barkery & Biscuits Mystery in May, and Protector Wolf, the eighth Alpha Force Harlequin Nocturne in June–about a covert military unit of shapeshifters.

And even though this blog is no longer sponsored by the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America, I hope to see you often at the chapter’s meetings!

Linda O. Johnston’s first novel was the 1995 Love Spell time travel romance A Glimpse of Forever. Since then she has published over 40 novels—mysteries and romances, including paranormal romance and romantic suspense.

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April 5, 2017 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as , , ,

If you attended Cal Dreamin’ you’re probably still playing catch up. I love attending writers conferences. Where else can you be around your people? It’s wonderful being around people who don’t find it strange when you ask how to kill someone, get them pregnant or arrange their marriage. And then there’s the socializing. Writers get a lot of heat about the amount of wine and chocolate we eat. So we indulge a little; it’s research. If we were still in college, our conference would be considered “Spring Break”.

So my spring break was wonderful. And just like Spring Break, I got very little sleep, ate a lot and spent the weekend hanging with my friends.

Now that I’m back in the thick of things, I realize, I’m so behind. Couple that with my birthday on today, I was a little distracted and in need of a post for our new blog. [Thanks Marianne for all of your hard work on the blog].

Thank God for backup posts. I found a post I never published. Considering some of us are still basking in the afterglow of Cal Dreamin’ I thought it might serve as a little refresher. Keep in mind, I wrote this post around the time of publishing my first book.

Now that I have self-published my first book, I am officially a published author. Actually, when I published a couple of short stories awhile back, those made me a published author in theory, but not in marketing.

When I started my writing journey, I was focused on getting an agent and writing another book. I forgot about the other things.

It wasn’t until I went to an ACFW [American Christian Fiction Writers] conference that I realized I needed a presence before I needed a writing contract. [Since then, I’ve opted to go self-publishing.   However, the information is still the relevant.]

During the conference, the same word kept popping up, “Platform.” I didn’t have a clue what that meant the first time I heard it. Once I got clarification, I was instantly overwhelmed. Not only did I have to write the book, now I had to market it. I thought that was what the publisher did. SURPRISE for all you newbies, no matter what route you take, ultimately, you’ll be responsible for marketing your book. So now I was faced with another thing to deal with before I finished the first draft. A Platform. Needless to say, a few choice words entered my mind about a platform and where I wanted to put it. And let’s not forget, the major thing I needed to do: define my look. What the !*#&…

Remember this was a few years ago. I went back to my room and immediately tried to figure out who my target audience was and what would attract them. Here’s the funny thing about writers. We can write eighty thousand plus words, but it’s the little things that seem to trip us up. You know what I’m talking about…blurbs, one-liners, platforms, etc. All the things that help sell the book.

I knew I didn’t write traditional Christian fiction or romance, but I really wasn’t sure who my audience was. I forgot; I was my audience. I made a big choice. I don’t write to market per se. I write what I like. Which is why that eye-opening ACFW conference was my last. Please don’t get me wrong. I loved hanging with my ACFW people. The problem was, I was writing for a different reader and needed to learn how to market to them.

I thought I was writing for women but turns out, men are reading my books as well. That’s right, men read romance. But in my defense, some of my books fall into a few categories: contemporary romance, women’s fiction, steamy romance, and chick-lit. This is why I was confused about who I was writing for. I’m definitely not a man. As my old tagline said, “I’m a Christian woman who loves God, cute guys and fashion.” But not all of my audience fit that, so I changed it. My new tagline is very simple and speaks to my platform, “Sophisticated Romance.” Or simply put, I write books for grown people. I know that’s bad English, but it’s the truth.

So what was my platform? Once I realized who I was writing for, my platform came to life. I write books that are faith based with sophisticated themes. So how was I going to show that?

I took cues from my other business [The Pink Duchess…lingerie for curvy figures. Everything is done in black and white with fuchsia accents.] I’m very clear about how I market it. I have two types of business cards [one for vendors and one for clients], an online invoice template and a booklet on how to shop for lingerie I use in all of my marketing. But when it came to writing, like most newbies, I figured the publisher would handle everything.

Surprise! I discovered what I was doing for my business, I also needed to do for my writing. That meant I needed business cards, online invoices [thank God for Paypal], event or direct sale invoices, giveaway items, and inventory.

Here are a few questions I asked myself:
How do I want to present my writing self?
How would my reader expect me to look?
How do I grab the attention of potential readers?

Everything needed to be consistent. I made sure to carry the same theme and colors over to my website, marketing materials, and advertising. [If you did Elena Dillion’s class last month, this makes sense to you. If you didn’t check it out “Visual Content Marketing for the Confused and Terrified Writer”. ] Since it takes between 7 and 10 times to make an impact on someone, it was imperative that I be consistent with my look.

Here’s how I chose to build my professional look:
A LogoTracy Read|Sophisticated Romance
I found an image I modified in Photoshop.

I opted not to use business cards. Instead, I have bookmarks with my logo and two free downloads on the back.

I use PayPal for direct on-line sales and a simple receipt book for In Person Direct sales.

Notecards and Thank You Notes
I was fortunate to still have blank white note cards and envelopes with my name in pink on them already plus a few Thank You notes from my other business I wanted to use.

Marketing Cards
These are either the covers or an image that represents the story with a quote or the book’s one liner.

The hub of my platform. A few days before Cal Dreamin’ I launched my revised website. I wanted my new look to be a little more sophisticated and friendly to both sexes. I carried over my color theme to the site. It’s black and white with hints of fuchsia. I felt this look really said who I was and who my reader is. Contemporary with just enough femininity not to intimidate my male readers.

I have the whole pack…Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and a blog. All of them have the same sophisticated vibe. I still have a few tweaks to make, but I’m making it clear these are books for adults, not children. I found my reader is busy like me, and often in need of a visual break. Another reason why I opted for the black and white theme.

Now when people see my platform, I hope it’s understood who I am and what type of books I write.

Looking back to that conference when I first heard the word “Platform,” seems like a lifetime ago. Now when I meet newbies, I ask, “What’s your platform?” If they don’t know, I share what I’ve learned and hope they don’t freak out like I did.

As I continue to grow as a writer, I know my look will change…for the better. But right now, I’m very happy with the direction my platform is going.

See you next month.
Tracy Reed

Sophisticated Romance for Women

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