Promoting Your Book on a Budget

Since I am in the process of doing my HIGH Blog Tour, I have been spending a lot of time researching on how to promote my book. Recently, I came across a great article on how to market your book—on a budget.

Click here to check out the article.

Do you have a marketing tip you’d like to share?

Birthdays, Books, and Blogging

A few years ago, I wrote a book. A few months ago, I edited it. A few weeks ago, it was published.

Today is my birthday. And since today is my birthday, I’d like to make a wish. I wish for my book to someday end up in your hands. 🙂

WARNING: My novel may cause smiling, chuckling, continuous page flipping, and sudden caffeine cravings. Falling in love and crying were also reported in some cases.

Cheers to another wonderful year! To old and new dreams, to love, and to life!

For the Kindle version of HIGH, click here.

Paper

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Isn’t it lovely when you find loose sheets of paper with your words written all over it? Words you’ve written a long time ago when your thoughts wandered off, had left reality, and ventured out into an imaginary world. Your words sometimes amaze you, other times intrigue you, maybe even baffle you. But they’re perfect nonetheless. You wrote them down because at that moment in time, you were inspired and driven to express how you felt, what you thought, and it meant something to you. You had to do it, or else you would forget. And so you did, and now that you’ve found them again—days later, weeks later, or years later—you’re glad you had written them down.

Most of the time they are dialogues, or descriptions of places, or people, or feelings. Sometimes all you’ll find is a scribble of a word, or a phrase, or a sentence, or a paragraph. Whatever they may be, they make up an incomplete story. A story that reminds you that this was something you once wanted to write, and said you would write, and possibly will write someday.

If picked up by a stranger, these sheets of paper would mean nothing at all. But to you, they are precious little things.

They are your treasures.

By the way, excuse the chicken scratches on the image above. Thanks to the computer, my penmanship has suffered through the years. 😉

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Super cool Pete Denton and super fun Robin Coyle both tagged me for the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. It’s a nice opportunity to post about my latest WIP. This blog hop started on She Writes.

How it works:
If I tag you, use this format for your post
. Include an introduction to your interview post and a link to the person who tagged you for participation. Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress). Include some pictures if possible. Tag five other writers/bloggers by sending them an email and then add their links to the end of your interview post. Their answers should go up the week after. The blog post should be labeled: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.

Before I continue this post, I should mention that my first novel, HIGH, just got published in December 28, 2012. So technically, it’s no longer a WIP. But because Pete tagged me back in November, when my novel was still a WIP, I will be answering the following questions based on the same book.

Here are my answers:

1. What is the working title of your book?
HIGH

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2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
Burnt out from weeks of working overtime, the idea of wanting to “escape” came to me during a quick coffee break outside of my old job. I felt the urge to flee, but couldn’t. Instead, I made up Sonja Fines, and wrote HIGH.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary Fiction.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I would love for an unknown actress to play Sonja Fines. Ryan Gosling could play Chad Miller.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Life changes dramatically for uptight, workaholic from Manhattan, Sonja Fines, when she hops in a cab, late for an important presentation—but ends up in Montreal.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I originally wanted to get an agent, and I tried to when HIGH was first written as a novella years ago. An agent from L. A. contacted me and read my manuscript, and liked it, but didn’t believe that there was a market for novellas at the time. After putting my book on hold for a while, I went back and turned it into a novel—and I’m so happy I did. HIGH was always meant to be a novel.

After researching on self-publishing and seeing how much it has evolved in the last few years, I thought I’d try it.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft was actually a novella. It took me a few months only because I wrote on and off.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I can’t think of a book to compare my story to. Well, at least not right now. But there is a movie I can sort of compare it to. The movie is Before Sunrise. Although the stories are quite different, there are certain elements about the movie that seem similar to my book.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?
Life, love, stress, coffee, and the thought of “escaping the norm” are what inspired me to write HIGH.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s a quick read, but the story will stay with you for a long time.

Here are the writers I’m tagging. Check out their blogs!
Lauren Waters
Sara Flowers
Writing Sisters
Dennis Langley
Sarah’s Shore

Thanks Pete and Robin for tagging me. I had a lot of fun.

 

A Happy Holiday Book Release

I am in the midst of preparing a nice holiday dinner for family tonight. Still have a lot to do, but I thought I’d take a quick break and update you on my novel.

Trying to release a book during the holidays is probably an insane idea, which was why I originally planned on releasing my novel last month. Unfortunately, editing took longer than I expected.

My manuscript sat with my editor for three long weeks. When I got my manuscript back, I was thrilled to find only a few markups, which I immediately worked on. After that, I set up my files then sent them to print. Once the files were approved, I ordered a printed proof. My proof arrived a few days later, and I was excited to read my book in print format. I had no idea I was in for a big surprise. I found mistakes I didn’t catch on screen, but more importantly, I found mistakes my editor completely missed. Most of the mistakes were minor, but there were a few that made me cringe. It was disappointing and very frustrating.

Quick writing tip: Don’t just proof your manuscript on screen. Print it out. You will be amazed at what you can find.

I finished doing my edits last Saturday, and I received the online proof last night. I’m getting ready to review it—hopefully, one last time.

I know that I could easily postpone my release date to next year, but I won’t. I can’t. 2012 has been a productive and good year for me. It just feels right to release HIGH this year.

So after tonight’s celebration, I will make time to review my book one last time. I’m hoping that by Christmas morning, the eBook version of HIGH will be available for everyone to view.

I hope you are enjoying the holidays with good company and good food. I wish you all happiness and success in the coming New Year.

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!

An Interview with Author, Lauren Waters

I am thrilled to have the lovely, Lauren Waters, the author of Infinite Sacrifice and Infinite Devotion, as my guest for this interview.

When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
LW: I wrote poetry since I was very young and I dreamed of becoming the next Jane Goodall. I thought I’d write about my adventures observing animals in exotic locations, but life went a different way and I chose to observe my own little monkeys. A few years ago, I felt compelled to write down the story that was keeping me up at night. Writing my first novel was so rewarding that I knew it was something I needed to do for myself from then on.

    

Tell us about Infinite Sacrifice and Infinite Devotion.
LW: Infinite Sacrifice is a reincarnation fantasy about an old woman named Maya who is shocked to discover it’s not the heaven she imagined; in fact, a life of adventure begins the moment she dies. What follows is a series of historic vignettes, spanning from the dawn of civilization up to the apocalyptic time of plague, all tied together with the thread of one soul’s journey for spiritual perfection. However, Maya is not alone on the road to enlightenment. She is surrounded by souls who help or hinder her progress—evolving alongside her throughout some of the most compelling events and eras in history.

Maya continues in Infinite Devotion to delve into her past lives after death, as she strives  to complete the tentative journey required to reunite with her loved ones in heaven. Her companions prove truer while her enemies grow stronger as her bygone adventures spin forth. This time she must experience the trials of loyalty and endure the hardships that only supreme devotion brings.

What inspired you to write your book series?
LW: An idea. Many say, “Write the books you want to read and for years, I wished that someone would release a book or movie that explored the possibilities of reincarnation. I came across a few books in this genre that centered on star-crossed young soul mates with only flashbacks of one other past life.  I yearned for one that dug deeply into all of the intricacies of many lives and many relationships. I wanted it to feel real. Therefore, I decided that I would write it.

What made you decide to self-publish?
LW: I queried my first book for six months and I was thrilled when my dream agent asked for a full request. She let me know that series sold well if they were stand alones, since publishers only want to continue with a series as long as it’s successful. She asked me to make it a stand-alone and I tried to think of how I could do that, but this story can never be a stand-alone. It is a true series, and I knew it had to be told as such. I decided then that I wanted to publish it on my own and I’ve never regretted that decision.

Which publishing company did you use and would you recommend them?
LW: I used Createspace for my print versions and I highly recommend them. The quality amazed me and they are very easy to work with. However, I have sold only a hand full of print copies outside my friends and family. The majority of sales for self-publishers will be ebooks sold through Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. I recommend all of these distributors. I know many indie authors who only publish in ebook form, yet I just had to have a physical copy for myself. If your budget is tight, by all means, forgo the print format.

What do you think are the advantages of self-publishing?
LW: Namely, control. You are the one who decides: which editing advice you listen to, cover design (one of my favorite jobs), title, book price, free promotions, which books you publish in the future, your promotional strategy, deadlines. The deadlines are the most important aspects for me since I have two little children who always come first. If I felt the pressure to complete a book by a certain date with a whole team of people relying on me, that pressure would interfere with my more important full time job. This way I can live my life around my passion for writing.

How do you feel about book trailers? Do you think they work?
LW: I had so much fun creating my book trailers. I’m not sure if they sell any of my books, but I don’t think they can hurt. If a reader doesn’t like book trailers then he won’t bother watching them, but if someone is interested, then they might get his attention. However, I wouldn’t pay someone to make one for you though. Here is a post I made so you can make one yourself: http://laurenwaters.net/2011/07/06/phew-the-book-trailer-is-done/. Any publicity is good publicity.

What type of marketing has been the most effective for you?
LW: Definitely making my first novel in the Infinite Series free. It has done wonders for me. I now advise any self-publisher to make something free for a prolonged period in order to get your other books noticed—whether it be a short story, novella, the first of the series, or part of your book. People mistrust self-publishing, so if you give them a free sample of your writing quality, they may invest into other works. Plus, you are seen on the free ebooks lists and on free ebook promotion sites. Again, publicity.

How much time do you think you spend on marketing your book online and offline?
LW: I try to do as little marketing as possible. It’s my least favorite part of the process (right after creating book descriptions!). This is one of the main reasons I made my first book free. That does most of the promoting for me. Every once in awhile, when the rankings slip, I have to get my free book featured on a free ebook site to pick the rankings back up. I also send my book out to book reviewers and give print copies of my second book away on Goodreads from time to time. Nothing sells your book better than word of mouth.

What do you think about blog tours? Do you participate in them?
LW: I have done a blog tour and didn’t see any huge increase in sales that week, but it’s a great way to get many reviews and interviews in a short amount of time. I chose a very inexpensive one, but I don’t think they paired up the reviewers very well with my genre. I have come across a fantastic historical fiction blog tour that I might splurge on in the future.

Aside from writing a great story, what do you think makes some self-published books succeed and some fail?
LW: Not putting enough time and money into it. Without a team of people telling you when your book is ready, you need to revise until it feels like terrorist torture to read your MS one…more…time. Then you need to send out to as many beta’s (hopefully some with writing experience) as you can. Then you need to make changes again. Then you have to pay for the best editor you can afford, and one or two proofreaders to catch all the things the editor missed. Pay for it now and save yourself the negative reviews and embarrassment of fixing typos after the fact.

Would you ever consider traditional publishing?
LW: Of course, I’ve dreamed of high sales that would attract the attention of my dream agent who will not only get my books in brick and mortar stores, and sell the screenplay to Bruckheimer (yes, I said dream). Then, I think about all that pressure and I’m content with where I am right now. My books and fans make me so happy; I don’t need much more. Although, after my children are grown, I might pursue traditional publishing when I can commit to it full time.

What book are you currently reading?
LW: The Reshaping of Everyday Life, 1790-1840 by Jack Larkin—research for my third book, Infinite Loss.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
LW: The best thing of all is when someone tells me that they loved reading my book. There are no words to describe how great that feels.

Thank you, Lauren for giving me the opportunity to interview you.

If you would like to check out Lauren’s blog or pick up a copy of her books, you can find her at: http://laurenwaters.net/.

Her books are also available on Amazon.

Guest Blog: Writers Workshops

Hi writers. It’s been a while since I’ve had a Guest Blogger, so I thought I’d ask a new friend and fellow-blogger who I met at the Paris Writers Workshop, to do me the favor of writing a guest post. I immediately thought of the wonderful, Kristen Coros.

Our topic for this guest post will be: Writers Workshops.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is, Kristen Coros…


Three Arguments for the Writers Workshop

by Kristen Coros (milchtoast.wordpress.com)

Intro: I am a Canadian blogger and aspiring fiction writer currently living in Zürich, Switzerland. I met Corey at the Paris Writers Workshop in June, and I’m honoured that she asked me to provide a guest post for her blog. Below, I’ll give my take on why writing workshops are worth attending.

Writing fiction is a funny thing. It requires you to sit alone in front of your computer for hours on end, inventing people, events, and conversations. There comes a time when you say to yourself, “Well, it all seems clear to me, but will a reader understand it the way I want them to? Do my characters behave/seem like real people? Will someone reading this find it plausible that they would say this or do that?”

This is when you need to get feedback on your writing. You might find, however, that if you offer your writing to your friends and relatives, you’ll receive comments that are either a) unfailingly supportive, along the lines of “I just think this is the best thing I’ve ever read, honey!” (note: spouses are especially prone to this type of feedback); or b) critical but not constructive (“I didn’t like this part, but I can’t really say why.”)

You need other writers to read your work, writers who have struggled with and thought about the same issues of narration, plot, dialogue, and characterization with which you are now grappling. And while you might be able to find fellow solitary key-peckers in your area who are willing to meet and swap work on a regular basis, I would argue that additional benefits are accrued from attending a writer’s workshop. As a three-time veteran of Zürich Writers Workshop weekend events and a recent attendee at the weeklong Paris Writers Workshop, I’ve observed the following three benefits of these organized events.

The presence of a leader. Critique groups can sometimes be overly informal, devolving into too much chatting, joking, or complaining, and not enough productive discussion. In a workshop setting, a leader – typically a writer who has been published to some acclaim – acts as a facilitator to keep things focused and to ensure that there is equal time for everyone’s work to be discussed. They can also help to interpret the feedback being given. While my piece was being discussed at the first workshop I attended, a fellow participant looked at me and said, “Your underwear is showing in this piece.” It was an essentially useless (and potentially hurtful) remark before our leader was able to draw out and rephrase its meaning.

Equal footing for the participants. In a workshop, it’s typically the case that every attendee must submit the same amount of writing beforehand (at events I’ve attended, the amount has ranged from two to twenty pages). The leader does not submit anything, but their work is available for scrutiny at your local bookstore. It helps to have everyone in the same boat, as opposed to informal groups where some people may be frequently submitting and others hardly ever. When everyone is equally invested and vulnerable, each member of the group will be more likely to deliver what they themselves are seeking – honest, helpful feedback delivered in as kind a manner as possible.

Chances to meet people you wouldn’t otherwise. The workshops I’ve attended have introduced me to a wonderful and geographically diverse set of like-minded writerly people (such as the lovely Corey!), many of whom I’ve kept in touch with afterwards. As noted above, being a writer can feel very isolating, so workshops can offer a great sense of your community and networks growing.

After having sung these praises of the workshop, I will note, in closing, that there is a time to workshop, and a time to head back to your desk alone. To paraphrase Stephen King, whose memoir/instructional book On Writing I love abidingly, writing itself needs to be done in solitude, with the “door closed” and only your own voice in mind. So after our wonderful week in Paris, it’s time for me to cloister away again.

 

Thank you so much, Kristen. 🙂

To check out Kristen’s blog, please go to: milchtoast.wordpress.com

 

 

My Week in Paris: Day 6

We had an interesting lecture today on networking. We had a panel of 3 writers who have all been published. Their techniques on using social media were all different, but the results are similar. I will talk more about this on another post.

The other lecture we had was on Literary Agents and their roles. Although I’ve researched enough on Agents, there were still helpful tips to be picked up. I will also feature this on another blog post.

Tomorrow, our class will be discussing Narration. My story will be critiqued. Yikes. I’ll let you know how that goes.

The workshop ends tomorrow. I know it’s only been a week, but it feels like forever. I am ready to go home.