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.

goodreads-300x200

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!

 

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.

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.

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.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

This will be my final “It’s Monday! What are you reading?” post. I’ve decided to dedicate my time to some new topics. I’m adding “Tombstone Tuesdays” and “Writer’s Corner” on Wednesdays. Please stop by on those days if the topics interest you. I’ll still be doing “52 Ancestors” on Thursdays and “Saturday Snippets” for the rest of 2015.

2a2It’s Monday! What are you reading?

This is a bit different than the books I usually post, but this week I read:

50 Ways to Build your Email Marketing List” by Pam Neely

If you run a business, whether a brick-and-mortar location or online, there is tons of information in this book to help you grow your email marketing list. If you don’t yet have an email marketing list, this is the place to start.

Being an indie author, I have a small list of subscribers who I email quarterly about my life, my books, and my job as an author. I admit I haven’t put that much energy into it, but others swear by email lists, so I thought I’d ramp mine up a bit.

51GjRkvew2L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_This book contains detailed information on adding your sign-up prompt to every page of your website, every newsletter, every email. It also explains how to add a custom tab to your Facebook page and how to use prompts on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, and SlideShare, placing a Call to Action on all of your online sites. Next, it offers tips on engaging customers in offline marketing including prompts for postcards, speaking engagements, phone, and letting your employees do the work for you.

The one thing that really stuck out to me was creating a QR code that you can use on all of your printed material. It’s got my creative juices flowing about all the places I can put a QR code. I think it’s time to create some new business cards…gotta run.

If you find this topic up your alley, you can pick up Ms. Neely’s book at Amazon HERE.

On my end of the marketing/email spectrum, I always give away literary freebies in my quarterly newsletter. The next one is coming out in September. You can win! Sign up at http://eepurl.com/GHJ7D.

 

5 Ways to Market Your New Book Without Social Media

I.Heart.Marketing5 Ways to Market Your New Book Without Social Media

Congratulation on your new book! After months and months (sometimes years and years), you’ve released your baby into the great wide unknown. It’s like sending your four-year-old off to preschool, isn’t it? Well, pat yourself on the back and breathe a big, heavy sigh of relief. Done?

Okay, now the REAL work begins.

Carefully remove your author hat and replace it with your marketing hat. Nobody cares more about your book than you do, and even though it is undoubtedly the most brilliant work of literature to ever hit the globe, no one will know about it unless you tell them.

I’m sure you already have a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a website, among others. You are the king/queen of social media and all your friends and family already know about your book. What do you do now?

images 1) Write a press release. Google “Press Release” for formats to write your very own release. In general, write it in third person, like you’re delivering a news report. Capture your audience in your first sentence. “Local Man Hits Home Run with First Novel About Baseball.” Your release should tell Why, Where, Who, What, and How. “John Doe of Detroit, Michigan released his first novel, “Baseball,” to rave reviews.” Continue with reasons why anyone should be interested in this. If you can, include what other important people have to say about it. Keep it to 500 words or less. Finish with where the reader can buy it, where you’re speaking next week, and conclude with your contact information. The last thing to type is ###, which ends the release. Have someone proofread it for you!!! Step one: Google your local newspapers and magazines and send it to the editors. Step two: Find magazines and trade journals that deal in your topic and send it to them. Step three: Don’t neglect big bloggers. Find ones that are in your genre. (You can set up a Google Alert and will be notified by email if your topic appears anywhere on the Internet. Then you can see if your press release was ever actually released by the people you sent it to. Google “Setting up a Google Alert” to find out how to do this.) Finally, Step four: Send it to iReach at PR Newswire. It will cost between $129-$399, depending on who you want it to be available to. It is not cheap, and there are no guarantees, but if someone picks it up, you’re in!

Entry1_51_PageImage2) Direct Mail Marketing. Mail a postcard or a bookmark. You can buy occupant lists (Google “mailing list”) in a specific area, but if you’re not going to use it over and over, it is pretty expensive. You’d be better off finding lists of people who belong to groups that may be interested in your topic. Decide, based on your book, if you want to mail only to women or Harley riders or baseball fans. Yes, stamps are expensive, but if your postcard is attractive, you should see a healthy return on your investment. Generally, about 2-3 of 100 recipients will act on a postcard offer, so do the math before you invest in the stamps. If you’d like to hit every house in a city, Google “direct mail companies” and find one around you. They will print the postcards and mail them, so you have to do nothing!

newsletter3) Newsletter. If you have a list of email addresses, you can set up a FREE email newsletter on Mailchimp. If your newsletter is going out to less than 2,000 recipients, it’s free. Remember, any unsolicited mail is spam, so you might want to mention in your newsletter that you’ve personally included your family and friends in the mailing and they can unsubscribe if they choose to do so. Note: Only about half of your list will actually open the newsletter. The others end up in their spam folder.

4) Personal Appearances. If your book is specialized, you can visit places that are related to your specialty. If your book is about baseball, try the local Little League fundraiser. If it’s about animals, try the local shelter. If it’s about history, try a historical site. If it’s a cookbook, try the local grocery store. If your book is general fiction, try your local book club or library. Towns love local writers. Don’t stop with the town you currently live in. Try the town you grew up in and/or the town your book takes place in. You can introduce yourself with a professional brochure. Make one at Vista Print.

images (1)5) If you have a travel budget and vacation time from work, try Trade Shows. There are numerous book festivals and trade shows in every state, every year. And don’t forget summer festivals. If your book takes place at a certain time in history, try the historical festivals – Civil War Musters, Renaissance Festivals, the list is endless. Use those previously made brochures to introduce yourself, and you might want to get some posters made to hang at trade shows. Vista Print makes posters, also.

Write down a list of anyone and everyone who might be interested in your topic, genre, era, and get busy finding ways to let them know about your book. Keep in mind, you have to tell someone to buy something three times before they actually buy it. Tell them you’re going to tell them, then tell them you’re telling them, then tell them you told them. Mail a brochure, stop by to chat, call them to follow up.

 

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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.

To FREE or not to FREE, Kindle Select is the Question

I know the title is corny…sue me. This post is for my author friends. The rest of you will be bored silly. My apologies. I’ll post something better next time.

kdp-select_01I’ve never understood why an author would sign up for Kindle Select, requiring their eBook to be exclusive to Amazon, and in exchange, being given the wonderful opportunity (sarcasm) of either giving their book away for FREE or doing a promotion called Kindle Countdown Deal where the price drops to rock bottom and rises at periodic intervals, creating a ticking clock for the customer to freak out about. The author gets his or her choice of one of these fabulous no-income-producing options for up to five days per quarter. Makes no sense to me.

 

sorry excuseEXCUSES:

I’ve been working on a new four-book series (Yes, all at the same time. Don’t know what the hell I was thinking.) and haven’t released anything since August 2014. Combined with being in Europe the entire fall and in the Bahamas the whole month of December, I’ve done little to no promotion since my last book release.

 

paparazziRESULT:

My book sales have taken a nosedive. I released eight books and two book sets in the twenty months prior, so my sales have remained consistent until my recent disappearing act. Apparently, if you spend six months out of the public eye, you’re dead in the water. Who knew?

 

SOLUTION:

I decided to play around with my books and see if anything would boost sales while I awaited my next release in April, hence I removed my three-book Stuckey’s Bridge Trilogy from Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Scribd, Oyster, and Smashwords and signed them up for the Amazon-exclusive Kindle Select. I guess if I’m not selling them, I can give them away, right? (more sarcasm) Whatever. I gave away the first in the trilogy, The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge, Friday, Feb 6 – Sunday, Feb 8.

 

OUTCOME:

Downloads over the three-day period totaled 2633, including the US, UK, Germany, India, Canada, Australia, and Japan. Stuckey’s Bridge topped out at #87 in Free Kindles (the photo below was taken an hour before when it was #97), #1 in Historical Thrillers, and #1 in Mystery, Thriller, Suspense. Real sales of the sequel, Stuckey’s Legacy, placed that book at #57 in Historical Thrillers, and the third book in the trilogy, Stuckey’s Gold, went to #74 in the same category.

Stuckeys Bridge sales

When the promotion was all said and done, the three books remained in the Top 100 of the Historical Thriller category for about four days. A week later, books two and three have seen a marked increase in sales and all three are being “borrowed” surprisingly well through Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Prime. The sales and “borrows” have easily covered any losses of not being available on Nook and his friends.

CONCLUSION:

I have a pretty large social media reach, but I know there’s not much I can do to promote a book that’s a year and a half old. Anyone who follows me already knows about the book. Therefore, downloads were 408 and 401 on Friday and Saturday, respectively. A popular blogger can announce a promotion and sales will take off. Amazon can send out one email and sales will soar. You know that lightning strike when you see it. It’s impossible to miss.

ebookdaily-logoWell, Stuckey’s Bridge got picked up on Sunday by eBookDaily, and bless their little electronic hearts, they caused over 1800 downloads on Sunday between 10 a.m. and midnight. That’s over 120 an hour for 14 hours straight!

If the marketing stars align, Kindle Select seems like a pretty good thing. If they don’t, it could be just another marketing idea with mediocre results. I’m not sold yet, but I’m leaning a little bit that way…just a tad.

What’s your experience?