Thank You, Goodreads

Today ends the Goodreads-hosted giveaway of my coming book, WITCH DANCE, and I want to take a moment to extend a big, huge thank you to Goodreads! If anyone knows how to do a successful giveaway with no sweat equity from an author, it’s Goodreads.

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Goodreads was launched in 2007, and in the first year, it gained 650k members and 10 million books. By 2012, they had grown to 10 million members! By 2013, they had doubled to 20 million, at which point Amazon gobbled them up. They have about 50 million visitors per month now. Wow!

I’m sure some would say the acquisition by Amazon is both good and bad, though I don’t see much bad except that someday we’ll all be owned by the giant that is Amazon.

The good is that your Kindle and your Goodreads account are now synced. When you purchase a Kindle book on Amazon, it automatically shows up on your Goodreads account that you’re reading it. That’s kind of cool, unless of course you read ‘mommy porn’ and don’t want your friends to know. LOL

Anyway, back to the giveaway. For a very reasonable fee ($119), Goodreads hosts giveaways for authors. They run the entire promotion and distribute the Kindles to the readers (included in the $119). Well, that’s a whole week’s worth of work I don’t have to do, and up to 100 Kindle copies out there in the world that can’t be pirated like they could if I simply emailed them out myself. The best part is when a reader enters your giveaway, your book automatically goes on their “want to read” list for their friends to see. The next best part is eight weeks after the giveaway, Goodreads emails the winners and reminds them to leave a review. I guess that’s the least a reader can do for a free book.

Now, we just cross our fingers, hoping for good reviews.

If you’re an author with a Kindle book available on Amazon, run over to Goodreads and check out their giveaway promotions. Seems awesome to me! Click HERE!

 

3-step Formula for Writing Blurbs

xrory3.jpg.pagespeed.ic.NKcnIrcztY3-step Formula for Writing Blurbs

 

Technically, a “synopsis” is the summary you write about your book. A “blurb” is an endorsement usually written by someone else, singing your praises. But, neither here nor there, we know what we’re talking about. We want a short, snappy, sales pitch that makes our book sell. We want a summary that calls to the right readers. We want a description that makes money!

Where to start…

 

Let’s start with a simple formula:

Plot, Problem, Possibility.

1) What’s the plot of your story? We need a general description of the situation.

2) We need a problem (usually following the plot and proceeded by the word ‘but’ or ‘however’).

3) We need the possibility that our hero may overcome the problem.

Let’s insert a book we all know into this formula. How about Green Eggs and Ham?

Plot: Sam tries to get someone to eat green eggs and ham.

Problem: No matter what Sam does, he can’t accomplish his goal.

Possibility: After begging and pleading, someone finally tries green eggs and ham. Will they like it?

Blurb: Sam travels the world trying to entice someone to try green eggs and ham, but no matter what Sam does, he can’t seem to accomplish his goal. After begging and pleading, someone finally tries Sam’s green eggs and ham. Will they like it or will Sam be forced to continue his journey?

Many writers say to keep the blurb short and don’t give away too much. I agree with keeping it short. Don’t tell about the boat and the goat and the train and the rain. Subplots don’t sell books. But I don’t see a problem with giving away anything. Movie trailers always show the funniest or most dramatic parts. Think of your blurb as a movie trailer. It’s a sneak peek into the story and hopefully will entice the looker to buy. Did everyone skip the movies Titanic and Apollo 13 because we already knew the endings? No, of course not. Tell your potential reader whatever you want them to know, and give them the Plot, the Problem, and the Possibility. Do yourself a favor…include the blurb when you send your manuscript to your editor. He/she can tighten that mess right up!

…and lay off the adjectives. Don’t fill me with flowery crap, just tell me what the story’s about.

book-blurb

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Easy as Pie Virtual Book Tour

imagesDo you have a new book coming out? Try a virtual book tour. I actually fibbed a bit about the easy-as-pie part, but hey, nothing worth doing is ever easy, is it?

Even if you’re traditionally published, publishers don’t support book tours anymore. So, a writer is left with two options: 1) schedule events and signings yourself or 2) do a virtual tour. Either way is a lot of work, but the virtual tour is far less expensive. You can pay someone to put it together for you, but remember, nobody cares more for your work than you do. You will be much more passionate and energetic about promoting your tour than anyone else on the planet. That being said, if you’d like to put together your own tour, here’s what you need:

  • Preparedness
  • Organization
  • Communication

Ask everyone you know who has a blog and has the kind of customers you could entertain. Don’t ask the guy who writes the auto repair blog to host your chick lit book. You don’t need a lot of blog hosts, only enough to fill a week or two – maybe eight or ten sites. Don’t bother blogging on weekends. Most people blog Monday through Friday. Fill in any holes with Release Parties on Facebook and Live Twitter Events.

  • Prepare all of your blogs, interviews, excerpts, links, media kits, photos, etc., far in advance and keep them in a folder on your computer desk top. Write blogs on why you wrote the book, when and why you started writing, the era the story took place, even an interview your main character. To make it a little easier on yourself, schedule some blogs to simply be short snippets from the book, or even just the synopsis and your bio. Don’t forget to include buy links with every post!!!!
  • Organize your schedule, along with host information, email addresses, etc. You need this all in one place. Excel spread sheet, anyone?
  • Communication with your hosts is key. Keep all correspondence – Invitation, Response, Follow up, Confirmation, Reminder, and Final Thank You. You’re not being a pest. You’re simply making sure all your hosts are on the same page. You also need to communicate with your audience. I suggest posting the schedule and links on one page (maybe your website?) and direct everyone to that page to see the schedule. Don’t try to update six different sites. That’s too much work.

The secret is to be WAY ahead of yourself. Give yourself at least two months, minimum, to plan. You have blogs to write, promotions to do, organizing and scheduling to accomplish. Don’t squeeze yourself into a corner and get stressed.

Give away freebies to attract readers. You can offer eBooks, gift cards (Amazon will let you email them saving on postage), swag, or you can set up an account and do an official raffle. Rafflecopter is awesome. Rafflecopter allows you to give readers entries for specific actions like following you on Twitter, liking your Facebook page, signing up for your newsletter.

Consider offering an end-of-tour Twitter Chat on one day for one hour with a specific hashtag. Announce it throughout the tour. Invite other authors in your genre to participate, so you can discuss your book with them if you have a roomful of lurkers but no tweeters.

book tour 4banner-elly-book-tourHave some crafty photo-shop-type person make you a banner announcing your tour and post it EVERYWHERE. Here are two I used. One matched my book cover, one matched my website. Notice I put my website as the landing point on both advertisements. That way, I only needed to update sites or links on that one page.

When the tour is over, the hosts thanked, and the giveaways done, clean up your sites. Remove dates from your website and blog, but leave the posts and links up. They will continue to bring business for a long time.

Promote Promote Promote – before – during – and after!!!!!

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Mystery, Thriller, Suspense. Where does your book belong?

Incognito-silhouette-150x150So, what’s the deal with the genres Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense??

Most readers don’t know the difference, but if you’re trying to place your book in the best genre to find the perfect readership, a writer should know the difference. The difference depends on if the reader knows what’s going on in advance and which character is telling the story. There is also some vague talk in the industry about pacing playing a role. Some say a thriller moves at a faster pace and a suspense novel moves at a slower pace.

Mystery – A mystery is a story where the reader finds out what’s going on at the same time as the character. Sherlock Holmes knows he has dead bodies piling up but doesn’t know who the murderer is. The reader can decipher the clues as the Sherlock uncovers them.

Thriller – In a thriller, the reader already knows whodunit and is merely along for the ride. If a story is about Jack the Ripper, the reader already knows what is going to happen and who is responsible, and in the story, the reader lives in the moment with either Jack or the one chasing him. If the story is told from the victim’s point of view, it could be categorized as Suspense (see below) because they know something is going to happen, but don’t know what it is. (One can usually recognize suspense by the ominous music in the background. LOL).

Suspense – The reader knows something is going to happen and perhaps knows who will do the deed, but something is unknown. Either the character doesn’t know it’s coming, or the reader doesn’t know the specifics of what, when, who, or how and is turning pages to find out. The reader may witness a person setting a bomb with a timer, but the characters don’t know they’re about to get blown to smithereens in ten minutes. In the above example about Jack, the reader will know Jack is heading toward the victim, but the victim is oblivious, or the victim will know someone is chasing them, but they don’t know who it is.

So, Jack’s story can be a Thriller or Suspense? Yes.

Often the categories will overlap. If there are scenes of suspense where the victim doesn’t know what’s coming, it could be categorized as Thriller/Suspense. If Sherlock’s story revealed the killer to the reader in the beginning and Sherlock was simply chasing him, it could be Mystery/Thriller. Generally, if the work falls into more than one of the above categories, a writer should narrow it down to two. A work of Mystery/Thriller/Suspense will only get lost in the shuffle. Narrow it down as much as you can.

small_moving_boxesBottom line – Don’t fret too much about genre. If it’s a good story, readers will find it and buy it. It doesn’t matter what box the bookstore wants to put it in.

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

The #1 Secret to Getting Good Reviews

6a00d83452c37169e2014e8ab9b06e970dThe key to getting good reviews seems simple—write a good book. Not!

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Not even accomplishing that great feat will ensure good reviews from the reading public. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Everybody’s a critic,” and we’ve all heard it because it’s true. People are eager to give you their opinions, whether you want to hear them or not.

The primary key to getting positive opinions/reviews is to get your book to the right people…and keep the wrong people far, far away. The ‘right’ people are those who have a good chance of actually liking your book. The ‘wrong’ people are everyone else. Logical! But how do you do this?

The secret to separating these two groups lies in your advertising. Following an eye-catching cover design, the next thing a potential reader will look at is your synopsis. If you wrote an action-packed high-tech spy novel that would appeal primarily to men, don’t try to broaden your audience by pushing the minor love story subplot. You’ll be alienating the ‘right’ people and tempting the ‘wrong’ people. The men may choose to forego the book if they think it’s a mushy love story, and the women expecting a romance novel will undoubtedly be disappointed by the action-filled storyline. They will tell you so in their one-star reviews. If you’re selling a smoking hot erotic adventure, make sure you let your potential readers know what they are in for. If they purchase the book expecting a timeless romance, they are going to leave dismal reviews about your “filthy piece of trash.”

Be truthful. There is a market for every book, so don’t advertise your book to be something it’s not. If it’s a boring drama, say so. I love boring dramas and would buy it and probably give it a great review.

Craft your synopsis as carefully as you create your cover.

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Step-by-step Instructions for a Facebook Release Party

imagesBook launch coming? Awesome! How about a virtual release party on Facebook?

If you’ve never attended an online event, they are a lot of fun. This blog will explain step-by-step how to set up a book release party on Facebook.

BEFORE THE EVENT

1) Decide on your budget – you have to give away prizes, swag, books, gift cards, and don’t forget to include postage for anything you have to mail.

2) Choose a date (that’s not a holiday or major sporting event) and a two-hour block of time for your event. When you promote it, don’t forget to add the time zone (example: 7-9pm Eastern). Monday and Thursday nights usually work pretty well.

3) Decide if you’re going to give away your book. The whole reason for the party is to sell your book, so giving it away seems a little counter-productive. Perhaps you could give only one copy away in the grand prize.

 facebook-eventSETTING UP THE EVENT

Go to Facebook and “Create an Event.” On the left side of your Facebook newsfeed page is a button called “Create Event.” Click on it and when the pop-up box appears, look at the top and make sure it is set to “public event.” You cannot change it later.

Add the date and time. Under “Where” state clearly that the event will take place “Right here on this page!” People get confused when they’re invited to a party and it’s actually taking place online. You can’t emphasize enough that the party is “RIGHT HERE ON THIS PAGE!!!”

Once you have the event page, you can upload a picture for the top banner.

Now, invite all of your Facebook friends. Some people will not respond to the invitation because they just don’t see it, so copy the link at the top of the event page and post it on your Facebook page. You will have to do this a few time and more frequently as the date approaches. Promote the event everywhere. Your blog and Twitter followers can also attend. Post the page link anywhere you want.

NOW, IT’S TIME TO PUT TOGETHER A GREAT PARTY!

We will use the above example of 7-9pm Eastern to explain the exact details. The party moves amazingly fast, so write a script in Word so you can copy and paste it onto Facebook at the exact times you want to. You’ll also want to take photos of your prizes and anything else you want to show. Have them ready to go on your computer to upload. Make your party questions things that everyone can participate in. Your script will look something like this:

7:01 Hi, everyone! Thank you for coming to the GREEN EGGS AND HAM Release Party. We are going to have a lot of fun and give away some great prizes, including the grand prize of a swag bag, a signed copy of GREEN EGGS AND HAM, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card. We will get started in a moment.

7:05 Hi to everyone who just joined us! Thanks for coming. If you have any question about GREEN EGGS AND HAM or about writing in general, fire away. I’ll answer questions as they’re posted. Now, let’s get started…

7:06 Question #1 for Prize #1 – a swag bag and a lovely green ceramic egg. A winner will be chosen from the comments at 7:20. — In GREEN EGGS AND HAM, Sam I Am had a name that rhymed. If your name rhymed, what would it be?

7:10 (post photo of the ceramic egg) Here’s the green ceramic egg we’re giving away right now.

7:15 (post photo of the book) Here’s the cover of my new book GREEN EGGS AND HAM.

7:20 Okay, comments are closed. One moment while we select a winner…

7:21 And the winner of Prize #1 is John Doe. Please send your mailing address to Sam@greeneggsandham.com. Congratulations!

7:24 Question #2 for Prize #2 – a swag bag and a $5 Amazon Gift Card. A winner will be chosen from the comments at 7:35. — In GREEN EGGS AND HAM, Sam didn’t like green eggs and ham until he tried them. What food did you not like until you tried it?

7:28 (post picture of prize #2)

7:31 (post picture of something that inspired the story)

7:35 Okay, comments are closed. One moment while we select the winner….

Question #3, picture of prize #3, picture of something else, close comments, announce winner, Question #4, picture of prize #4, repeat and so on and so forth.

Give away prizes at 7:20, 7:35, 7:50, 8:05, 8:20, 8:35, and 8:50. The 8:58 grand prize should be offered to all attendees and chosen from all comments.

In total, you will need seven questions and eight prizes, because the grand prize doesn’t require a question. You will also need eight pictures of prizes and probably eight pictures of your cover or inspiration to fill the time. If you correspond the question # and the prize picture, you’ll be able to upload pictures quickly. Question #1 goes with prize picture #1, etc. Trust me, you won’t have time to look for it.

329238-hints-and-tipsA FEW HINTS

Before you sit down for the event, get yourself something to drink and have a good clock nearby to keep an eye on the time. It’s good to have a friend stay with you. They can pick the winners for you, help keep an eye on time, and they can run and refill your coffee cup. You’re going to be too busy to move for two hours!

The day of the event, repeatedly post the link on your Facebook page like a countdown. Post in the morning, again at mid-day, 2 hours before, 1 hour before, 30 minutes before, 5 minutes before. (If you have multiple pages, post on all of them. Also post on Twitter, your blog, your website, everywhere.)

Ask questions revolving around your book that anyone can answer, relating a little about the story or characters, but not confusing people, because they more than likely have not read the book yet.

If you see someone come in midway through the party, comment “If you’re just joining us, we’re on Question #4. Please jump in.” Some of your author friends may stop in for a few minutes to support you. Don’t be surprised if they don’t participate. They don’t want to steal your thunder. If you have time, say hi to them publicly, telling your friends, family, and readers that Jane Doe, author of XYZ, is in the room. The general public loves to know that we’re friends with other authors.

Post photos about things that are relate to the prize or the book. If your book takes place in a castle or on a beach, post a photo that “inspired” the location. If your book takes place in a certain time in history, post a photo of that era. One or two photos between questions is plenty. The last half hour, you’ll be commenting and answering questions, so you probably won’t need the photos, but they’re good to have on hand if you do need them to fill time.

Respond to funny comments. Like EVERY comment. Even a smiley face lets everyone know you’re paying attention to them.

About 8:30, your crowd will get a little quiet as two hours is a long time to pay attention. This is the perfect time to advertise a second chance at a $25 Amazon Gift Card by going to your website and signing up for your newsletter, or mention what is happening on your book tour tomorrow, or where you’ll be signing books next week. You have a captive audience. Use it.

ONE MINOR ISSUE:

On Facebook, the last comment on any particular post sends that post to the top of the page, so wait for a couple minutes for everyone to say congratulations to the last winner before posting the next question. You don’t want your next question to get lost in the shuffle. Make it clear what you are posting. Example: “Question #3:” or “The Winner of Question #4 is:”

CLOSING:

After the final question, post “We have a few more minutes to answer questions, and at 8:58 we’ll announce the grand prize winner.” Your crowd will again come to life after the last question, and answering their questions becomes a free-for-all. Be warned, their questions will be very few at first, but will snowball toward the end.

An easy way to answer questions it to copy the person’s name and question, add the word “asked” after their name, and create a new post so everyone can see it. Example: Bob Jones Why are the eggs green? – Make it: Bob Jones asked Why are the eggs green? ANSWER: You’ll have to read the book and find out.

At 8:59, thank everyone for coming and POST A LINK to where they can buy GREEN EGGS AND HAM. Have this link ready in your Word document so you can copy and paste it. You don’t want your guests to leave before you’ve posted it.

At 9:00, re-invite them to the book signing or webpage that you told them about earlier. Post link to website or location.

downloadIT’S OVER! Now what?

Go back to your Facebook, Twitter, blog announcements where you invited people and add a comment: “If you didn’t make the Book Release Party, you can still click on the link and see all the fun we had. The posts will be out of order, as the last one to get a comment automatically moves to the top, but visit anyway!”

Post-promote on Twitter, Facebook, your website, etc., telling everyone what fun you had and invite them to check it out. You’ll still get likes and comments for a few days.

Mail your prizes! WHEW!!

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Amazon Paperback Giveaways and Growing Twitter

Hi authors! I’m not dressing up this post with pictures and frills. This is business! If you’ve been trying to grow your Twitter following, this post is for you.

Amazon has a new program for authors of paperbacks. Scroll to the bottom of your Amazon paperback page, underneath your reviews. You’ll see “Set up an Amazon Giveaway.”

Here’s how it works:

You can offer as many books as you’d like, keeping in mind you have to pay retail price + shipping + applicable tax. You can set up the giveaway in two ways. 1) first come, first serve. Don’t pick that one. Or 2) offering your book to a lucky number (entrant). You can require your entrants follow you on Twitter. If you choose option 2, click “lucky number” and the button to connect to your Twitter account, select the winning entrant from 2-50,000, enter the number of books you’re giving away. The giveaway will run for one week. You cannot change the dates.

MATH: I know what you’re thinking – if I give away 5 books, 1 to every 20th entrant, I’ll get at least 100 new Twitter followers. No, no, no, think bigger. That’s what I did the first time and the 5 books were gone in less than a half hour. Yes, I got just shy of 200 Twitter followers, but the giveaway was over before I even told my Facebook people to enter. Set it up for a BIGGER number. If you give a book away to every 1000th follower, you would get 5000 Twitter followers! FIVE THOUSAND. It’s taken me two years to get to eight thousand. Maybe even go bigger if you’ve got the guts! You need to fill out three short blurbs, one to announce the giveaway, one for the people who didn’t win, and one to congratulate the winners. The contest is instantaneous. The entrant learns if they’ve won or not at that moment, so they’re not going to put off buying your book because they want to wait and see if they’ve won. I filled out the forms like so: Enter to win one of five paperbacks of XYZ. – Sorry, you didn’t win this time, but stay tuned for future giveaways. – Congratulations, you’re the winner! Enjoy XYZ and please check out all my books.

WORK: The cool thing is that Amazon does all the work. They contact the winners. They ship the books. You do nothing! It costs more than hosting a giveaway yourself, but when’s the last time you got 5000 Twitter followers from your giveaway?

MONEY: My paperback sells for $9.99, so my total cost for 5 books with shipping and my Tennessee tax was about $82. I got $13 back in royalties from CreateSpace AND I got credit for the sales in my Amazon rankings.

THE PIS DE RESISTANCE: If you don’t give away all your books in the allotted week, Amazon will return your unused money.

If you try it, let me know your outcome. We’re all in this together. 🙂

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.