Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Writing When it's Hard

When I first started writing ten years ago, I was in the midst of the "baby years." I had two kids about four and two. I yearned for a time when I would be more free to write. I'm here to tell you, it just doesn't happen. Yes, now that I have three kids, two of them teenagers, and it doesn't get easier. I have play practice and sports practice and after school things and football games and their social calendar.

Maybe that sounds discouraging. Maybe it gives you hope. Writing is something you have to make and take time for. It doesn't just fall in your lap. Even now that all the kids are in school and I can write all day, other things come up. I volunteer at the school, at my church and recently now the HOA. There will always be things that claim your time. It's easy to say someday I'll have more time. I'll write then. In the future, I expect to travel to see my grandkids, be there for when my kids have babies and continue my volunteering efforts. You just have to sit down and do it.

One of the hardest times for me to write was after my miscarriage. Pain and grief overwhelmed me. As well as guilt. What had I done wrong to lose the baby? These were spiritual questions as well as physical questions. Was I not worthy of this blessing since I was a little resentful it was unplanned? Did getting a flu shot somehow harm my fetus? Writing through grief and pain was hard, but I believe it produced my most honest work to date. Suffering brings humility and humility makes great writing. We become a conduit for words. Our egos get out of the way and the message rings clear.

Writing can help me cope with an otherwise unhappy world. In my stories, I get to control the outcome and it's always happy. In life, not so much. Happy endings do happen in real life and we have to work for them. Writing for me is a way to right wrongs in the world. In the my first book, Baker's Dozen, the first "bad guy" you meet was a car mechanic. I had been holding a grudge because when we were really poor, (so poor we were happy to have a twenty at all!) I kept a twenty dollar bill in the car for emergencies. (In case I forgot my wallet etc.) We took the car in for something, tires or something and when the car came back, no twenty. I couldn't believe it. Well, here's thumbing my nose at the dude who took my twenty. You get killed by the mafia! It totally inspired the story. I wanted a corrupt mechanic to get his due. And it makes me laugh. I was in a low power. When the mechanic stole twenty bucks, there was no way to get justice. But writing made me laugh about it, get my own revenge and move on. I've made back my twenty. Power restored!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Updated Cover for Baker's Dozen

Happy to announce the updated cover for Baker's Dozen!



My publisher was so understanding and even asked me why I hadn't asked to have it changed before. People may be asking why the change. Well, as much as I loved the first cover with the city-scape of  St. Louis, I wanted something to reflect the funny, flirty tone of the book.

Other updates!

I found out last week that I'm a Whitney Award nominee! Thank you to all who nominated me, who believed my book worthy of such a title. If you want to read more about what the Whitney award is, click HERE.

Also, I'm trying to be more consistent with my blogging and will try to update once a week on Wednesdays!  Topics I still need to share, the LUW conference, my latest title submission and conference wins!

If you'd like more up to date info, subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on social media.

Anyway, sure love you all!

Amey

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Givaway Time!

Baker's Dozen is featured on the BookSweeps giveaway!  Win free books and download freebooks. I was a little skeptical, so I went to the site and signed up. All the books look so interesting and fun! I had to click on all the authors.

So check it out! This won't last long! Be sure to sign up for author newletters and download some free books!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Marketing Plan ideas for Authors

I'm going to share my marketing plan so that others can see what I'm doing and why.


Most of your promotion should be done before your book is released. You want to build hype before the book comes out. You can also host mid-year sales, and anniversary sales. 


Step one: Develop a marketing plan by asking and answering the following questions
Who is your audience? Define their ages, (don’t say 18-99--the more specific the better) What other books are they reading? What hobbies do they enjoy? What do they not like? What appeals to them? What kind of images would attract their attention?
Where does your audience hang out? Where do they live in cyber world? Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? Book review blogs? 
What’s different about your book?



Step Two: Create a brainstorm cloud with your book in the center. Now add all the ways you can reach your defined audience. Other bubbles include:
Your newsletter
Your blog
Your Youtube channel
Your Twitter account
Your Instagram account
Your Facebook personal page and author page
Your website
Your private Facebook group
Your Media kit

Other lists:
Other people’s blogs
Reviews
Contests
Other media outlets, local newspapers, book release notices
Book Signing
Book Giveaways
Bio
Excerpts from book
Recipes
Book trailers
Libraries
Postcards, bookmarks, stickers, totes etc

Who can help you spread the word:
Family
Friends
Fans
“Scream Team” or “Street Team”
Right now you’re probably thinking this is a lot. It is. But you don’t have to do everything. Pick one or two things you think you can manage and do those well. I’ll talk about each item and write the benefits and the regularity with which you should use them.


Newsletter:
If you haven’t already, start collecting emails of people who know and love you. This is not a spam bot letter. This is a personal letter from you to your audience. THIS IS GOLD! If you do nothing else, do this. Make your newsletter fun and entertaining. Make them full of fun little tidbits. Keep those emails sacred. This is not spam! These are your ardent fans. Treat them as such. *Monthly or twice a month. You can use mailchimp or madmimi who can help you organize your lists.

Blog: Some people have said blogs are passe, but really if you’re good at this, have one already going, keep it up. If you become someone’s favorite author they will want to know what you are thinking and doing. *update once a week so people will come back for more. Can be in conjunction with your website.

YouTube: Podcasts, videos, people love to listen and view in different ways. Think of ways to reach an audience through these media. Book trailers, funny recreation videos, talking about your subject can draw people in.

Twitter: is the fastest and the shortest shelf life of the Social media accounts. If you want to use Twitter, plan on *7-10 tweets a day. Don’t become a parakeet about your book, post quotes, messages, funny thoughts, memes, GIFs and anything else to make yourself likable and fun. Don’t forget to use hashtags #amwriting #amwritingromance #writingcommunity

Instagram: My publisher says she’s getting the most of her followers here. Build your followers using hashtags and posting fun pictures, quotes, and everyday life. Also searchable by #hashtags so write about 10 of them in the comments below your caption for your picture or about 3-5 in your caption. *Post daily

Facebook: I still get the most social media mileage out of Facebook. I’ve built it the longest, have the most friends and feel the most comfortable sharing personal things. I don’t cross post very often but that’s a personal choice. I post first from my author page and then share it to my personal wall for most of my writer needs. If you do not have an author page, get one! You can ask your FAcebook friends to join to add to your likes and follows. (you can also pay to have additional likes and follows but that seems a little morally ambiguous to me. But no judgement if you decide to do that.) *Post once daily.

Website: this should be your hub. Your author bio should live here. And your blog, if you have one. Your amazon links, your fun stuff. Everything should radiate from here. Get one if you don’t have one. *update periodically at least when you get a new book. If you need work done you can try fiverr.com or upwork.com to find people who will do small jobs for you.

Private Facebook Group: For me this is for my ‘Scream Team” which I’ll define below. I try to update this once a week, but I should be out there closer to daily. Share live videos, recipes, tidbits, vote on titles. But this is a select group of your most ardent fans. I have my betas, my family and a few friends. They help you with campaigns and you reward them with goodies.

Media kit: This is your Word document that has all your stats for your book, your excerpts, your buy links, where to find you on the web, your bio, blurb etc. This is for easy reference because people will be asking for this information. YOu can copy and paste into documents. Some people want a 100 word excerpt, another 250 so have something prepared.


Other lists you should explore:


Other author’s blogs: You can ask other authors to “host” you or you can pay for a blog hop. But I’ve contacted fellow authors and created my own. You can have someone host a cover reveal for you, or just host an author spotlight. I reached out to several people to host me. It’s all about networking.

Reviews: You want to get your book out there even before it hits the links! You can contact people who do reviews and ask them if they want to review your book. I let me book be downloaded on booksprout.com and got 8 reviews out of 17 (interested).  I also asked my friends and family. Goodreads and Amazon are the most popular, but there are tons of places to leave reviews. You can pay to have your book listed on NetGalley. Also, if you have people who don’t want to write reviews, you can also asked them (and your Scream Team) to like the reviews given on Goodreads and Amazon.

*Amazon Reviews: More reviews on Amazon, moves you up in their algorithm. Amazon rules state (for now) that a person can write 1 non-Amazon review a week. (That can change at any time.) Also, if you are related to the person, you must state that in your reviews. As well as anyone who reviews it should also have written reviews before. There seems to be some people who haven’t purchased enough on Amazon to write reviews. You can see my blogpost for more information on this. 

Writing Contests: Contests help in several ways. 1) you can gain a new fan. 2) get feedback for what’s working and what’s not working 3) and maybe you’ll win. Usually there is an entrance fee ($25-35) and sometimes you have to send actual copies of the book. You can also read what has won in the past to see what is making the bar.

Other Media outlets: Sign up for author account anywhere you possibly can. I have author accounts at Bookbub, BookSprouts, Goodreads, Amazon, BookandMain, and I’m constantly signing up for anything I find out about. Also, Night Owl romance is hosting me in a chat session. My local magazine is running a story on our family and me being an author. 

Signings: You can host a virtual signing, a local signing at a bookstore/library or other venue. Virtual signings https://www.chatalyze.com. Or a facebook live video or post videos of you reading. Bring goodies, like bookmarks, magnets, totes etc.

Book giveaways: Amazon is still free to do a book giveaway, and Goodreads now charges. You can also host your own on your website or through your social media accounts. An actual book is more exciting than a ebook, although an ebook is exciting too. I only allow US citizens in my actual books as shipping to Europe is $22 and Canada is $15. More information below.

Bio: This is a super important of your self-promotion. This should be in 3rd person because you want more hits of your name in SEO. Amey Zeigler is a….blah, blah is better than I blah, blah...One has my name. Also, add a call to action: ie sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Twitter. Add stuff about you that’s unique.

Excerpts from your book: My publishing marketing teams says that the best way to generate excitement for your book is to quote a bit of the book in your promotion. Go through and mark difference pieces that you find entertaining, poignant, or meaningful. Use different lengths for different media outlets. Twitter is short, Facebook can be a little longer etc.

Recipes: People love recipes inspired by your book, or other goodies. I have a Villain’s cookbook. If I had all the time in the world, I’d host a facebook live video making one of the recipes. 

Book Trailers: If you can find someone or have the skills to stitch together some royalty free video or images that reflect your book.

Libraries: You should ask libraries to carry your book, especially ebook. I, at least, get royalties from it. In fact, you should ask your Scream Team to ask their local libraries to carry it as well. What checking out a book from the library does is lower the risk level. I don’t often buy books or even read books unless it’s recommended by my daughter or someone else I trust. But a library is a great place to discover new authors.

Printed materials: Bookmarks, postcards, magnets are available at Vista Print or any local small business printer. I highly recommend having something to hand to people when you talk to them in passing. (I have business cards with a sticker with my novel cover on it, so I can update it with the newest release) You can also hand bookmarks out on the plane, in the stores etc. And to bring to conferences if they have a goodie bag room.

Being a leader and being successful depends on how well you can help people catch the vision of what you are doing and believe in you and cheer you on. So help people to help you. How do you do that? Be generous. Mentor when you can. Return favors, be the first to give. Then ask people to help you. 

Who can help?
Family is number one. Friends, fans.

What can they do?

I have a blogpost here for this as well. These are ten small things to ask your Scream Team to help you with.

What can you do for your scream team? Find out what they want? Gift cards? YOu can hold contests for people to help you in those things and they can earn “tickets” for a drawing for a gift card every month.

Something like this:
For each blog comment 1 point
For each blog share 2 points
For each blog like 1 point
For each media share 2 points
For each media like 1 point

So if someone from your Scream Team likes, comments and shares your blog on social media, you can reward them with four entry points for a contest. This is to help spread the word. Most of my sales have come from friends of friends. You can also do something like that for newsletter sign ups but most people agree that it doesn’t end up being long term.


Advertising:
There are several ways you can advertise. Your author page can run cheap Facebook ads where you set the limit of how much you want to spend a day and what target audience you want.

If you have published with KDP, you can get Amazon Marketing Service (AMS) as pay per click, which is really powerful.
Bookbub runs simple cost per click ads. 
Facebook as well runs simple targeted and cheap ads.
Add value. Add a call to action. "Read today" "Buy now."

Join writing groups: Join groups that are similar to what you are writing. Romance writers? RWA. Writing children’s books? Join SCBWI. RWA has conferences, networking, contests, classes, and a host of other resources (lists of trusted agents and small presses) and costs only $99/year. 

Conferences: Conferences are a great way to expand your networking, as well as find critique partners, learn from workshops, and do author signings. You can find local ones or go to smaller ones. I am going to a smaller one in Atlanta and doing both an agent/editor pitch as well as an author signing. At some conferences there are “goodie” rooms where you can leave chapter 1 and bookmarks and pens etc if you order them.

Book giveaways: Goodreads now charges something like $300 for a book giveaway, but Amazon will still host a paperback copy giveaway for free. You have to pay for the cost of the book. You do this by clicking on your book page, scroll down to where is says schedule a giveaway and then you can run it with another promotion to drive people to the giveaway link. 

Giveaways through Gleam.io and rafflecopter.

Goodreads: There is so much to do on Goodreads. I hope you have an author account if you have a book. Then you can follow other authors and have others follow you, like your Scream Team. Also, you can blog from your page, answer questions, ask questions, post a book trailer, get your book listed on other’s lists and join groups and communities that can help you spread work about your book. Have your Scream Team list your book on their “shelves” post reviews, like reviews, put your book in lists, and mention on groups.

Booksprouts: Canadian-based free service. Use it for allowing people to download copies to review, mention promotions. Gain followers. 

BooksandMain: For romance writers. Post “bites” of your story with a royalty free pictures to entice people to read your book. It’s free in the beta version.

Pick a few streams that you can manage without stress. One of my writer friends had a board with when she was posting what. Monday: blog, Tuesday: update her Goodreads blog Wednesday post on BooksandMain etc. etc. If you need something like that to help, do it.

Also there are social media managers for people who are okay with cross posting, and want to schedule in advance. For example, I can schedule now my #pitmad entries for Sept 6 so I won’t forget about it. The one I use is Hootsuite, but there are others. Search social media managers in Google.

There are always people willing to take your money to “promote” your book. Check with the internet to make sure they are reputable before throwing them your hard earned money. Most of the time, you’ll not see direct bumps in sales from these promotions. What you are looking for is consistent sales.
Last but not least, the best way to promote your book is to write another one. Sales for your current book boost sales for your backlist. Do what you can to promote, but don’t lose too much doing that to where you can’t write. Write, that is your highest priority. Lots of books sell lots of books.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Top Five Words to Avoid for Deep POV

Deep POV is one of my favorite things to write in. It's close. It's personal. It's deep. It heightens the emotion of the character and brings the reader closer.

I just turned in my second romantic suspense. A sequel to my Baker's Dozen romantic suspense mystery. My editor sent me a guide of words to eliminate in my writing. Here are my top favorite to avoid.

1. Saw
If your point of view character saw something, just say what he saw.

Alan saw Margret brush a stray hair from her eyes.

vs.

Margret brushed a stray hair from her eyes.

2. Thought
If you are in your character's head, you rarely need to mention he thought something. We want to stay close to the writer's sensibilities, almost mimicking his thought.

Alan thought there had to be a better way than this.

vs.

There had to be a better way than this.

3. Felt
 If you have to tell us she felt something, then it destroys the sense of closeness.

Margaret felt angry.

vs.

Margaret beat her fists against the wall.

4. Listened/heard
If your character hears something, just say it. No need to tell us she heard it.

Margaret heard the coming footsteps in the hall.

vs.

Footsteps sounded in the hall.

5. Smelled
Don't tell us she smelled it, tell us what the smell was.

Margaret smelled blood tinged with bleach.

vs.

Blood with a tinge of bleach reached her nose.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Build character, overcome fear

I've had this philosophy lately to give up my fear. It first started in my twenties when I served as a missionary in Switzerland and France, talking to people about their deepest fears, their hopes and dreams for the future. The President of my mission said to me, "Get rid of your stress, worry, anxiety and fear; those will keep you back." Up to that point I'd always seen stress or worry as a form of mental energy progressing me to a solution, but in reality, it was exhausting me and paralyzing me.

Ten years ago, I decided to put away my fears. My fears of never becoming a writer, my fear that I would never be good enough to publish, my fear of not getting out all these wonderful stories I had tucked inside my heart. My husband told me to sit down and write something.

So I did. I had this scene in my head about a girl who got poison ivy because I had just been through a rash of it. And she was a young girl, and I found out that beer can help offset the affects of the oil because of the alcohol. I imagined this funny scene where she's out with some friends and she gets poison ivy and her friend dumps beer all over her and she comes home reeking of Corona. Her mom of course grounds her. Anyway, you get the idea. My husband thought it was good and encouraged me to keep going.

Writing is scary. It's creating something from nothing but the ideas floating around in your brain. Every day I face a blank page.

But writing isn't the only scary thing I do. This idea of facing fears has bled over to our family vacations. Seven years ago, I went SCUBA diving for the first time. I was so nervous, I almost couldn't go under. A few years ago, we went on a rope course over a huge canyon. I went skiing for the first time in my life earlier this year.

If you really want to live, do something scary. You will overcome a fear, build character and create something.

What fears have you overcome?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Pinterest for Authors

Pinterest is a great social media tool for introverts. It's less social than many other platforms.

What I love about Pinterest:

Any post can be seen by all users
In other social media platforms, Twitter, Facebook etc, only your followers can see your posts. Pinterest is unique because it's basically a huge search engine for pulling information. (More about "push" and "pull" later.)

Posts have a long shelf life
I started Pinterest years ago and people still "repin" my posts. Shelf life of Twitter is a few seconds, IG and Facebook are a little bit longer, but the staying power of Pinterest is unbeatable.

Archival
Everything can (must be!) be categorized and stored for Pinterest to work. That's good news for those creating pins. They last and are easy to find.

Media
You can use all sorts of different media: movies gifs, jpegs, images, recipes etc. in your pins

Use to discover and save new ideas and link back to URL
 Each pin can link back to its URL. Your description can be #keyword rich.

Pull v. Push method of advertising
People come to Pinterest to find something. You don't have to push your advertising on them. If you add value (more on that later) they will come to you.

It's free
Pinterest is free to use. It costs nothing to create pins.

Now that you're sold on the idea of marketing on Pinterest, you need to know how to get started.

Step one: Create a business profile. It's free.
If you have not done so change your profile to business. Click here for directions.

Step two: Create a pin.
I use Canva. If you are interested in me doing a quick video tutorial, let me know in the comments and I can get one up on how to create pins using free software. There's also picMonkey and other sites, but I use Canva. 

Step two-point-five: Create value.
This is the creative part. Create a pin that not only displays your lovely book cover, but also give them something of value so that your pin will not just be admired, but it will be cherished, valued and most importantly, repinned.

What is value? I started making pins that have my book cover on them in addition to other useful things: a funny/ fitting quote, a recipe or tips. In order for people to come to you for information, you must give them something to "pull" some bit of expertise, something people will want to save. Otherwise, you are just "pushing" like every other social media platform out there.

Ask yourself: what am I an expert in? What tips can I share? What useful piece of information will help my readers, be of interest to my readers? Then slap your book cover, your website and a keyword rich description on it and send it out into the world. (See my example I created on the fly here) complete with graphic!

Has this been helpful? Would you like me to go into more depth?
What tips would you like to share?

Writing When it's Hard

When I first started writing ten years ago, I was in the midst of the "baby years." I had two kids about four and two. I yearned ...