When I think of my favorite authors at work, I think of them toiling away in a darkened room banging out pages on an antique typewriter in total isolation. There may or may not be a cigarette on a long and a bottle of scotch involved, or a fine bottle of wine… It depends on the author. And, the truth is that writing is often a solitary process. But that is changing.
The internet and projects like NaNoWriMo, organizations like Romance Writer’s of America, and changes in the publishing industry itself are bringing writers together in new ways. Writers are reaching out to each other having write ins, offering support, sharing their experiences with traditional and indie publishing, even sharing financial information, things that were unheard of less than ten years ago.
In October, I was part of a panel of women writers at the InD’Scribe Conference in Burbank California. First of all, it was incredible to get to sit on this panel with legal thriller author, Rebecca Forster, Navy Seal Romance author, Caitlyn O’Leary, and paranormal author, Jenna Barwin, after all, my debut novella will not be released until February. But the panel was about mentoring, and both Rebecca Forster and Caitlyn O’Leary have been mentors on my fiction writing journey. And this is what I’m talking about, writers no longer hide in their writing caves darkened and solitary penning pages. They reach out to other authors and offer support, and share their experience. They come together in coffee shops to have write ins and bounce ideas off of each other. Writing has become a social event as well as an individual creative process.
As the Pro Liaison for the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America I had the ability to reach out to successful published authors, editors and agents to ask them to talk to our group online, and almost every one of them said yes, volunteering to share their experience and let us pick their brains.
When I stepped down from that position I took the idea to another level and started a little online group called #Charmed Writers where we write together and have mini conferences with authors and industry experts as well as other experts who volunteer to join the group and share their knowledge.
So, the image of a writer has changed. We no longer hide in the dark like vampires, we come out to write in coffee shops and restaurants. We form groups, friendships and working relationships. Some of the mystery may have gone out of the life of a writer, but the magic is still there and maybe stronger than before. If you’re a writer, find your tribe, seek out support, share your journey with other writers and readers.
Where do I write? Usually in my brightly lit family room at my desk, with the curtains open and a view of my orange tree, but sometimes friends join me at my dining room table, or I meet them at a local coffee shop, usually no whiskey, but occasionally there is wine involved. Where do you write? And how do you imagine your favorite authors at work?
I want to thank Marianne Donley for the cool graphic she put on my last post. I thought it only befitting to use it again this month on part two.
Where do I start? Last month I was in the midst of launching a book with a new campaign strategy. I want to make it perfectly clear, I am not trying to sell you on one of Mark Dawson’s courses. Although, I do like the results I got on my last launch.
So here’s what happened.
In the past when I launched a book, I didn’t really do any kind of pre-promotion. I would book a couple of ads, alert my mailing list, put the book out at full price and hope for the best. This time, I sent the book to my ARGroup, asked for reviews, forgot to book the ads pre-launch and launched it at 99¢.
My ARGroup had 20 people, but one dropped out after she read the book. Yes, I was a lot ticked off. But I went back to her acceptance email and remembered, she wanted me to pay her. I sent her a nice email expressing my sadness in her leaving the group. However, someone else joined. I had a little glitch getting the book out and pushed the date back. I got excited when some of my ARGroup emailed asking when could they post, because they really enjoyed the book. That made me feel good.
Every step up to the release day, I kept the group informed. I sent the new cover, asked them if they would buy a copy to help me in the rankings and graphics for the book to keep them engaged in the launch process. I wanted to make sure I kept the momentum going.
Launch day, I had 7 US reviews and 1 international. That was a first for me. I’ve never released a book with reviews. I was hoping for ten, but this was great.
As for sales. This was the first time, I sold 100 copies in the first week. For some people that’s probably what they do in the first day, but for me that was huge. I missed the top 100 in one of my categories by 24 on launch day. I have had books release with a top 100 category ranking, but none with a sell through like this one.
Promotion wise, I forgot to book ads for the launch. I was upset at first, and then I remembered, I wanted my list to have first dibs at the special price. I waited about ten days before putting the price up. I hoped for the best and was treated to a continued stream of sales.
It wasn’t until after the soft launch that I ran two facebook ads. I mentioned earlier that I had already made some facebook ads. When I tested the ads, the feedback wasn’t great. However, I used those for my social media and mailing list reminders. And used the ads below for FB instead.
In the beginning the male ad was doing very well. Then the female ad clicked and took off. At the end of the month, the female add had out done the male. Let me back up, when I noticed the way the ads were going, I was very tempted to shut down the male ad, but I didn’t because something happened. I did something else I had never done…I used an affiliate link. I put an affiliate link on my book on my website and used that as the link in the ad. I started getting sales which I knew were from the FB ads. However, I wasn’t sure which ad was producing the sales. That’s why I never shut the weaker ad down.
I think this was the first time in a while all my titles had steady sell-thru at the same time. It’s exciting to see a sales report with numbers not zeroes next to all the titles. Again for some of you this is your normal, but for me, it wasn’t. YEAH!!!
I was very pleased with the results and believe if I had done everything according to Mark’s suggested plan, I would have done even better.
Let’s see what happens with my next release. Happy Thanksgiving.
We’re having the Birthday, but we want to give everyone the presents.
Come for the day and/or join us Friday night for the Write In and Saturday Night for the Pajama Parties
October 21, 2017
Embassy Suites – Brea
900 East Birch Street
Brea, California, 92821
Cost is $50 for OCCRWA Members
$60 for All other Guests
$30 for Past Presidents
Keynote Speaker: Damon Suede
Bestselling Author, Renowned Speaker, and member of the RWA National Board of Directors
Damon’s talk focuses on the modern romance industry, the radical shifts in readership and fandom and how they’re altering what success looks like for professional authors. Genre fictioneers often grouse about writer’s block but more and more what we encounter is something more akin to reader’s block: an unwillingness to step beyond our ruts or move past the shadow of our steeples.
Romance is the literature of hope, simultaneously the most traditional and most provocative of genres. Our industry is evolving, but not necessarily in the obvious ways. Tribalism and division cost us marketshare and media access. In a world expanding and connecting at an exponential rate, where do books land? Who are the readers of tomorrow? What is the future of love stories and genre fiction careers? Join us for a free-range discussion of the art of heart and the business of happy endings.
Bestselling author Panel : Debra Holland, Maggie Marr, Brenna Aubrey, Damon Suede
What Made the Difference!
Lunch will be served
Incredible auction prizes from Scrivenver, RWA, Embassy Suites, Amazon, Major Publishers and authors
Come in Costume!
There will be Prizes. Dress as your favorite book character.
Book Cover Contest!
Enter your favorite covers for prizes. And help judge the winners.
Awards for the Orange Rose and Book Buyer’s Best Contests
At least one hour with Damon Suede
Saturday Night Pajama Parties — Damon Suede, Louella Nelson, Maggie Marr and more.
Cost is $50 for OCCRWA Members
$60 for All other Guests
$30 for Past Presidents
Your brand is your author name. Everything we post on our website, social media or blogs help add content to that author brand. For someone like me, still unpublished, I want to create posts that are worthwhile even if I’m not selling books yet. Figuring out what to do can be overwhelming and time-intensive. Here I share with you three website/apps I use that have helped save me time and mental energy.
I love the WordSwag App. For $4.99 in the app store, you can create memes for your social media fast and easy. You can use any photo from your phone and customize the text using either the given quotes or writing your own. I love to quote scripture this way using a nature pic I’ve taken. There’s even a way to enter a watermark so you can have your website listed at the bottom, branding your memes.
One of the websites I like to use is design-seeds.com. There, you will find blends of colors that make a variety of color palettes. You can select the colors you like and write down the color codes. Color codes are universal. In different design software programs you can type in a color code and it will match. So anyone you hire for cover designs or creating materials can use these codes and you can have a consistent look.
Having a recognizable color scheme with your author brand is a great way to build awareness and identity across your books, website and social media. Take a look at the books you read and notice the fonts and colors used on the covers. Then go to their website and social media and see if you see a connection.
So what are the colors you want to associate with your author name? You can select 5-6 colors from light to dark and use them in everything you create. Your website, memes for your social media, and yes, even to incorporate into your book cover designs. (You can then select additional colors for that specific series or book).
I would recommend creating a Pinterest board where you save the photos of the color schemes you like and reference back to them.
Once you’ve selected a palette of colors for your brand, write down the color numbers to use in your graphics.
Another website I love using is Canva. This website lets you create all sorts of media, including banners and social media sized for any app, to flyers, postcards and more. I created the image for this blog by uploading an image I purchased through a photo website. You can upload your own pictures that you take or buy and you can use the color codes selected from design-seeds.com (the brown in the image is one of my colors). You have the choice to use existing designs or create your own. I use this program to create memes. I even used it to design my son’s high school graduation announcement.
If you would like to learn more about these and other programs, I would highly recommend signing up for the teachable class Author Elena Dillon has created titled Visual Content Marketing for Authors. Take a look at http://confused-and-terrified-writer.teachable.com/ Her videos offer step by step instructions and she provides written out lessons explaining things in detail. (More information here.)
Although new to the writing fiction world, Denise Colby has over 20+ years experience in marketing, creating different forms of content and copy for promotional materials. Taking the lessons learned from creating her own author brand Denise M. Colby, Denise enjoys sharing her combined knowledge with other authors.
If you are interested in a marketing evaluation and would like help in developing a strategy for your author brand you can find out more here http://denisemcolby.com/marketing-for-authors/