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Posts tagged with: promotion

Using Holidays to Help You Promote

Happy Holidays, everyone!

As authors, we are always looking for ways to promote our work in a non-in-your-face type of way. Holidays are an easy way to help you gain some personal and professional exposure. Here are a few ideas for using holidays as your promotional theme.

  • New Years goals setting post on a blog

  • 10 ways to woo your love on a St. Valentine’s Day FB post

  • Sharing how the Leprechaun visits your house

  • Easter Egg hunt on your website with a prize for the most eggs found

  • Mother’s Day tea party – either a live stream on FB or a real tea party in your community

  • How to make a DIY project for your Dad or live stream a Summer Solstice party

  • Celebrating the summer and trips you are taking in a newsletter

  • Back to school giveaway with one of your books and personalized pencils

  • Halloween Trick or Treat blog hop

  • November “I am thankful” posts on FB

  • Holiday Cookie Exchange FB/Blog Hop

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Use holidays that are important to you or discussed in your books. Describe and celebrate aspects of ancient holidays like Beltane and Samhain to show readers the historic details you’ve researched. Have fun with it.

Today and tomorrow, 32 historical romance authors are sharing their favorite holiday cookie recipes on a blog hop that I set up. It was not too difficult. Here’s a quick How-To.

How to Set Up a Blog/FB Hop

  1. Decide on the dates, theme, and grand prize/prizes.

  2. Set up a google doc on which authors can sign up with their links, prizes, and whatever else crucial to the hop (like cookies in my hop).

  3. Invite authors to participate with an e-mail or message. Give them the google doc link and your PayPal address if they need to contribute a small amount to the grand prize (usually along with one of their books).

  4. Create a graphic with the authors names on it. Distribute to the authors.

  5. Create an event on FB (make certain you mark it Public at the beginning of setting it up. You can’t change a Private event to Public event after you choose). You will need to make a simple list of instructions for hoppers to follow to list on the event page. Wait until the actual event to post the author links since they will not be ready yet.

  6. Find other places where the hop information can be listed. I chose my web site landing page and a FB page that my publisher runs. And I’m placing it on here (sneaky : ).

  7. Gather all the author links and create a list. Send out the list to the authors for them to place with their posts so that readers can keep hopping after visiting them.

  8. Advertise the event on social media. I am also running a small ad with FB. Ask the authors to advertise.

  9. The day before, remind the participating authors to get their posts ready for the hop.

  10. On the day of the hop, check all the links to make sure they lead to where the authors want readers to hop. Fix any links that aren’t working.

  11. Keep track of the reader entries for the grand prize. I have participants e-mailing me a completed list of cookies to enter the grand prize drawing. I set up a folder to where e-mails with a specific subject line will transfer.

  12. After the hop is over, randomly pick one winner and send prize. If all authors are sending prizes, send the winner’s e-mail address out to all the authors. Thank everyone for participating.

This is a fun, cheap, and relatively easy way to gain some exposure by engaging readers and inviting them to your web sites or FB pages. Below is a link and graphic for the Cookie Exchange Hop. If you hop and collect all the cookies, you can enter to win $160 gift card (just $5 from each author) and thirty-two digital books.

 

Join in! You are eligible to win too! Holiday Cookie Exchange Hop Link

Do you have any ideas to share for promotion using holidays?

 

 

 

How to Prepare for a Book Release

Hello Ruby Readers! Hope you had a fantastic holiday weekend if you were lucky enough to have Monday off. Even though I went to the beach with friends and family, my mind was ticking away on all the promotion details I need to remember for my upcoming book release.

The first book in my new Highland Roses School series, A ROSE IN THE HIGHLANDS, comes out September 24th! I’m so excited about this new series. It deals with women empowerment in a time when women were often abused and/or treated like powerless chattel. But at the Highland Roses School, English sisters, Evelyn and Scarlet Worthington, are determined to teach their students how to stay educated, elegant and alive.

In preparing for this release, I have a list of promotional should-dos. Every author develops a list of actions to be ticked off the closer their release date comes. Today I am sharing my list with you. Feel free to use it yourself, adding and subtracting from it as pertains to your book release.

Book Release Should-Do List

    1. Decide on your budget for promotional ads, free copies of the book, materials, and swag.
    2. Create publicity graphics for FB, Twitter and Instagram (I use Canva, a free, online graphics generator). My publicity team at Entangled Publishing sends me graphics of the book and background with and without text. Then I can post their graphics and create some of my own by putting in teaser quotes.
    3. Order post cards with the cover on one side and a brief blurb on the other with room for addresses. I will mail these out 2 weeks before release to my paper mailing list.
    4. Order swag for prizes that have something to do with your book. Ideally, the swag should be something a reader can use everyday and has your book and name on it (post it notes, calendar magnets, pens, mouse pad, playing cards). But I’ve also ordered sgian dubh (black daggers) letter openers and tea cups and rose-scented soaps that have to do with my book.
    5. Order print copies of the book as soon as it is available. Luckily my publisher has made them available to me so that I will have paper copies on hand for release day. Don’t use them as prizes at first as it may stop someone from buying the book, but it is nice to have one to hold up to show.
    6. Consider Reader Events around the time of your release. I’m attending Shameless Book Con in Orlando in October. 

      Shameless Book Con

    7. Sign up for local author events. I’m attending a book festival in the town next to mine and I participated last month in a library author event where I talked about my upcoming book.
    8. Keep your eyes open for free advertising places through other authors and networking sites. You can list the book on Book Bub for free.
    9. Submit ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) to those who have reviewed your books before or online reviewers.
    10. Make sure you have an Amazon author account. Add the new book and any reviews you’ve already received.
    11. If you use Pinterest, make sure to clean up your board for the new book. I keep mine “secret” until after the release. To keep generating enthusiasm, open the secret Pinterest board so readers can glimpse what inspired the story.
    12. Contact other authors in your sub-genre about swapping new book information in your newsletters. Write and schedule a newsletter for release day.
    13. Be active on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), but make sure not to bombard with promo pitches. Just be yourself and talk about life most of the time. Leave the big promo pitch for release day.
    14. Sign up to blog around release day so your name, face and book are out there.
    15. Ask your local libraries to order your new book. My library has a form online to request this.
    16. Make sure your web site is up to date.
    17. Post a countdown widget on your web site. Luckily, my publicity team creates this for me, and I just insert it.

18. Set up a Facebook party for release day. I’m planning to host (for the first time) a FB tea party and will live stream a segment on the day.
19. Have fun on the big day and capture it in pictures or live streaming. On my last release day, I wore a tiara while doing errands around town and took pictures with local people. I think I might do the same this time, but I’ll also ask them to hold my book. And then I’ll live stream my tea party.

Whew! No wonder I’m tired! And I still have so much to do on this list. So, what have I missed? Please add your advice and tips. Have a wonderful, mark-everything-off-your-to-do-list kind of day! Heather

 

For more information about Heather, please find her here:

www.HeatherMcCollum.com

https://www.facebook.com/HeatherMcCollumAuthor/

https://twitter.com/HMcCollumAuthor

https://www.pinterest.com/hmccollumauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/heathermccollumauthor/

 

 

Let’s Live Stream on FB!

“Lights, camera, action!”

Not the words you like to hear thrown at you? I definitely fall in that category. But I was asked to live stream a video at a Facebook party, and I took on the challenge. Low and behold, it was actually fun!

Today, readers want to know more and more about their favorite authors. Gone are the days when we could just hide away and write. Social media has blown the doors wide open, and the public wants to talk with us.

So, I’m going to show you how simple it is to do a live stream on Facebook. I was very nervous, but it really was just like having a conversation with the people commenting. Here is a tea party for Reader Appreciation Day that I live streamed a couple weeks ago (It’s long so don’t feel like you must watch it all! LOL!). I ended up with two-hundred views and met several new readers.

Reader Appreciation Tea Party

Posted by Heather McCollum on Thursday, October 26, 2017

Here’s how FB live streaming works:

  1. Think ahead of time about what you want to say to and show your viewers. Know your time limit, and if you have a tendency to talk on and on, set up a timer to keep you on track. Practicing what you will say, and timing it, is always a good idea.
  2. Decide where you will be filming. Check out what is in the background. I filmed at my desk once and on my back porch once. I made sure that the area was tidy and free of distractions. You will be filming with your cell phone, so check out how you will set up the phone to record and what is in the frame.
  3. Write up a little introduction, which you can post right before you go live in a different post. Let people know that you are about to go live in your next post, but if they miss the live version, they can always watch the recording.
  4. Have your computer available to watch the responses pop up in the comment section under the live stream post. I set up my lap top to the side and my phone directly in front of me.
  5. Turn on your Facebook app on your cell phone, and go to the FB page where you wish to post the live stream.
  6. Click on Write Something, and a box will come up. Either post your intro here and then do it again to post the live stream, or just jump right into the live stream after your intro in this same post.
  7. Click the little red camera for Live Video. Don’t worry, you aren’t recording yet. You will see that you are filming in the direction away from you, so if you want to record yourself while watching yourself, you need to redirect the camera to film a “selfie”. Keep in mind, that if you hold up your book while filming as a selfie, the words will appear backwards on the recording. But you can always post the cover in a comment after the recording.
  8. When you are ready, hit the blue “Go Live” button and say hello to your readers.
  9. Make sure to check your computer periodically to answer comments and questions from your viewers. There is a small delay in the recording from real time, and sometimes the questions/comments get hung up in FB. Just let the viewers know that you’ll answer questions after you’re done talking if this happens. Don’t let a glitch stop you from saying what you had planned.
  10. When you are finished talking, remember to stop the recording. It will automatically set up as a recording on Facebook.
  11. Then go down the list of comments, and answer the ones you did not answer while talking.

I’ve also recently recorded a video (not live stream) on my phone as part of a promotion on my publisher’s FB page to celebrate the release of my new Highlander book, THE DEVIL OF DUNAKIN CASTLE (releasing 11/13/17!). It will be posted tomorrow on the Entangled Tea Time Takeover: https://www.facebook.com/EntangledPublishing/

My ten-minute segment will likely be posted around 3:30 PM ET tomorrow, but the fun starts at noon.

Recording ahead of time makes it possible to record over and over to get it just right. However, that takes a lot of time. Also, the final recording needs to be uploaded into Movie Maker or an equivalent application. When my husband did this, the recording ended up being too large to e-mail to my publicist, so we uploaded it to Google Drive. I then sent her a link to the video in an e-mail, so she could retrieve it and upload it on Facebook at the planned time.

So even though this seemed to be a “safer” route, and my publicist liked to have the recordings uploaded ahead of time, it seemed more difficult than the live streaming (for me, anyway).

Have you dabbled in live streaming? Do you post recordings regularly? What type of recordings do you like to watch online?

 

Connecting with Readers

In today’s writing world, it isn’t enough to just write a book. (LOL! As if “just” writing a book is easy, because it totally is NOT easy.) With the inundation of daily online information readily available, modern readers really want to connect with their favorite authors, whether through social media, snail-mail, or in person (and all three). They want to know their authors, and even though we should always guard our personal information, we should also reach out to have conversations as much as we can.

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite events where readers and writers can get together. I’m not talking about everyday interaction on FB and Twitter and all the other social media platforms. Picking at least one of those, as a gateway for your readers to reach you, is a given. I’m talking about events.

Facebook Parties:

I’ve never set up one of these, but I’ve attended many. In fact, I’m helping to host one tonight to celebrate the release of my newest Scottish Historical Romance, THE WOLF OF KISIMUL CASTLE. And of course you are all invited! End of Summer New Release Ball!

The typical FB party consists of six – twelve authors, each taking a 15 – 30 minute time slot. At their given time, the scheduled author hosts the party. They ask questions, converse, and usually give away a prize to someone who commented. Participants (or at least the authors hosting) pick a picture of a gown and a date, posting them during the party so everyone can ooh and ahh over them.

Gown I wore to the Spring Ball

My date for tonight (as soon as he finds a shirt, or…maybe not!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are one of the hosting authors, write out beforehand your hello, several questions to ask, and a thank you for letting you host. Save these responses in an electronic folder with several pictures you plan to post, so everything is in one place. This is much easier than trying to remember where everything is saved on your computer during the party.

After your time slot is over, stay around to continue to respond to questions on your posts and like and converse on other people’s posts. The next day, randomly choose your winner and announce it on the FB party page.

 

Twitter Parties:

I’ve attended one or two twitter parties. They are similar to FB parties, but instead of a page where people converse, you have a hashtag (#) to use so everyone can connect and see who is saying what.

I participated in a Jane Austen Twitter Party (#AllDayAusten) where attendees watched Pride and Prejudice at the same time and tweeted throughout the movie. I took a picture of me watching and eating popcorn in my PJs. It was fun! Like a big PJ party with other Jane Austen lovers. But expect it to be chaotic and a bit tangled. Like a twitter mosh pit : )

 

Blog Hops:

The Rubies hosted a Halloween Tick-or-Treat blog hop last year with great success. Participants hop down a list of authors, clicking on each of their links to be sent to either the author’s blog or the author’s FB page. The author had a recipe or riddle or giveaway waiting for them on the page, something related to the theme. Authors can ask participants to like the FB page or comment for a chance to win a little prize. We asked participants to “collect” the candy on each author page. If they retrieved them all, they were eligible for a big prize. We had lots of fun and numerous new people found my web site and signed up for my newsletter because of it.

***As a blog hop organizer, you will need:

A graphic that shows the theme (to use in promotion of the event)

Authors and the links to where they want participants to hop (create a list with the links)

A prize for the overall hop (authors all contribute)

A blog post or FB post explaining to participants what to do

Someone to collect the names of participants eligible for the big prize (where the participants sent their list of collected candy in the Halloween blog hop)

 

Book Signings/Readings:

I love to meet readers at book signings! I have a favorite table cloth that I bring and stands for some of my books. I bring chocolates and swag (homemade tiny books, bookmarks, pens, tea caddies, etc) and make certain to have my Square Reader working if readers are expected to buy directly from me. Make sure to have several pens for signing (sharpies for writing on bookmarks) and a place for readers to sign up for your mailing list or newsletter.

Even if people don’t line up to buy your book, you will still make connections and meet fabulous people, who just may go home and buy your book on line. For some readers, the face to face contact is extremely important. Remember to be as interested and pleasant as you can be, even if your feet are aching.

I’m excited to have been asked to read an excerpt from my new book at the Lady Jane’s Salon of RDU on August 26th. Another fun way to connect, face-to-face, with potential readers.

Authors, what are your favorite ways of reaching readers beyond the regular routes? Readers, what types of events do you enjoy as you connect with your favorite authors?

How to Make Excerpt Booklets at Home

Hello, everyone!

Not to stress you out, but it’s October, a slippery slide to the holidays and the new year when we make resolutions about conferences and promo. In an effort to prepare and plan, I have perused swag sites and read views on author swag to increase sales. 

Although there are a lot of fun swag ideas out there (which I also use), I’ve read on several author loops that book excerpts are more likely to lead to a sale than, say… a pen or koozie. Since I don’t have the funds to have mini-books made professionally (which are gorgeous), I began to look into how to create my own excerpt booklets. Big exhale.

Booklet Ex1

There are several sets of instructions online using MS Publisher, which I do not have and can’t afford to buy. So…I had to make mine in MS Word. It took me an entire weekend to create my templates for 8, 12 and 16 page booklets. And since I am a wonderfully nice person (because I’ve recently had my caffeine), I am going to share them with you.

So what if you aren’t an author or don’t want to share excerpts of your book? You can use these little booklets for lots of things: family cookbooks, how to clean each room of the house, tips on surviving chemo (which I plan to write), and phone numbers or birthdays for everyone you know. Your kids could make little books or lists of likes and dislikes. The possibilities are endless.

So here’s what you do:

1. Decide what excerpt you want to showcase. It could be first kisses from each book in your trilogy or the meet scene or first chapters if they are short. I used two excerpts in my 16 page booklet (a pivotal scene and the first kiss).

In the 4 ¼ X 5 ½ inch booklets at 11 point Times New Roman font, I can fit about 240 words on one page. If you take the page numbers out of the template, you can fit another line on each page (but I like page numbers).

2. Choose a template below (I have 8, 12 and 16 pages. Personally I like the 16 page one.) Click on the link and choose to open it. It should open in Word. It will look stacked until you click Enable Editing. Then it should open so you can start inputting your own words.

3. Copy and paste your book cover or booklet title Booklet Title page. Copy and paste what you want on the back on the Back of Booklet page (maybe your back cover blurb).

4. Start filling in your excerpt, single spaced, following the page numbers I have on each page of the template. Yes, they look like they are everywhere, but this is what I spent all weekend figuring out. It is a little tricky figuring out how much you can fit on each page. If the page numbers at the bottom are missing, you can add them in little text boxes.

5. To draw a text box: go to Insert, then Text box, and click draw text box. Then click and drag to make the box where you want it. Once it is there it is hard to move. If you want to move it, I recommend deleting it and drawing a new one where you want it. You can then insert pictures or page numbers or words into the text box.

Fill up your booklet with excerpts, contact information and maybe some fun stuff. I have a cookie recipe in the back of my baking witch book, BROKEN.

Booklet Ex2

 

 

 

6. Now to print. Try this with one copy first. Set the printer to duplex printing, turning on the long side. I printed in grayscale until I knew it was how I wanted it, since color costs. Sometimes you need to go back and tweak the size of the text boxes or margins.

7. Pick up your two double sided sheets (for the 12 and 16 page booklets, only one sheet for the 8 page booklet). Without separating them, cut them down the middle. When I have a hundred of these to do I use a large cutter to speed up the job and keep things straight.Booklet 7

 

 

 

 

8. Fold both sets in half and insert the middle into the outer pages. Staple the edge using a stapler that can reach the middle (after checking to make sure the pages are aligned sequentially). For the 12 page booklet, leave out the blank pages.

Booklet6

Booklet 5

 

 

 

I am considering printing book cover stickers to put on the front to make the cover look fancier. I may put some gold stickers on the front of each with any awards the book has won or “Excerpts” to draw attention. Some authors buy glossy, professional postcards for the covers, and make their own interior pages. I hope to do this next time.  

Even if the booklet is obviously made at home, it still gives potential readers a sample of my writing, something that will entice them to buy the whole book (hopefully). I give them out at conferences and to librarians. They give much more information than a bookmark, and I can make them at home.

 

 

So here are my templates so you don’t have to yank your hair and curse like a seaman.

Booklet Template 8 pages

Booklet Template 12 pages

Booklet Template 16 pages

Anyone else have pointers for creating these cute, easy to carry booklets? Also, if anyone has a great idea for author swag that you’ve seen increase sales, by all means, share : )

Look Your Best in Holiday Photos

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when we’re forced to mug for the camera at the end of a long day. In the past, I’ve mastered the surprise good-bye. A reasonable excuse (“The kids are exhausted!” “We have to feed the cat!” “We forgot to TiVo SNL!”) coupled with a quick slide out the door usually keeps cameras safely in their cases. But these days, even your MIL has a camera phone (well, mine doesn’t, but yours probably does), and having your picture taken is harder to avoid.

And besides, wouldn’t you like to just look GOOD in the darned things? Wouldn’t you like to print out lots of pictures of your friends and family–with you in them? It’s easier to stand still for a photo when you know you aren’t going to look like a bridge troll 90% of the time.

“But I always look like a bridge troll in photos!” you say. Bollocks to that! Nobody looks like a bridge troll (at least not all of the time), and few people are naturally photogenic. Even if you aren’t conventionally attractive, you can figure out what flatters your face and your body and do it. Every time.

Ruby Release: The Sweetest September by Liz Talley

Amy_SweetWelcome, friends, to the party I’m throwing for myself. Presumptuous of me, huh?

But, oh well, today is a great day to celebrate, Friday and all that, so I figured why not throw a release party and invite all of you?

The Sweetest September is my 13th book, and I’m banking on it being lucky ’cause I’m positive that way. And not only am I celebrating another book released into the wild, but I’m celebrating a new me. Yeah. A new Liz Talley.

Once upon a time….a long time ago (aka, when the fab Liz Bemis set up a website design and promotions business) I put myself out there as Liz Talley, Romance Through the Seasons. Liz and I thought long and hard about what I wrote and she came up with a really cool idea based off some images I gave her. She’d asked me to think about my writing and what I wanted to represent to potential readers. I immediately hit upon the seasons idea because at that point, I liked to chose a different season in which to set my books. And the image that I finally settled on was a tree. I liked the imagery – the growth, renewal, and, well, trees are pretty awesome. So she came up with a website in which there was a tree and it changed with the season. It was very cool. Really.

And then I got a few more books under my belt, and Liz said, “Maybe we need to freshen your look” and so we did. She created an fantastic set of seasons that changed accordingly.

And it was good.

But this spring, I attended RT in New Orleans where I received the Reviewers Choice Award for Best Superromance (humor my bragging – I’ve never won anything before). At the book signing I sat next to the energetic, sexy Damon Suede (I say sexy because I don’t have a chance with him…and he’s totally cute).  Anyway, over the course of me taking pictures of him with his fans and assisting him with marking his books with stickers, we talked about the business. At one point, he leaned over and said, “I love your bookmarks.” To which I said, “Oh, thanks.” And then he said something quite transforming -“But they don’t really tell me much about who you are as an author.” Well, I sort sat back (not physically…but in my mind, I totally fell back, mouth open.) I took a deep breath and asked, “Huh?” And because Damon is a kind person, he broke it to me quite gently that I needed a brand that said something about my writing and what I brought to the reader, and while bucolic scenery is nice, it says nothing. I left the book signing hot (it was a bazillion degrees in there), flustered (those lines!) and confused about who I was.

The next day while lunching with my fabulous Rubies, I brought this up and guess what? They AGREED with Damon.

Set me on my ear, I tell ya.

But with my faithful sisters’ aid, I began to really think about what kind of books I write….and what I wanted the reader to expect when he/she first made contact with me.

So I took suggestions – magnolia, Southern, sassy, modern, small town, mint julep, porch swings, cotton fields, plantation houses – and I contacted Wizard Liz Bemis (Yeah, that’s her moniker around here – magic behind the curtain). And she started tossing those suggestions into her vat of creativity. And she came up with this: http://www.liztalleybooks.com

I think it’s the perfect combination of modern and country. It’s bright, sassy, slightly nostalgic and fresh. It’s what I hope people associate with my stories. And since I’m no longer limiting myself to romance, it still fits my overall writing tone and style.

So as I launch this new book, the first in a series set in fictional Magnolia Bend, I happy to say I feel renewed, energetic and optimistic about who I am. Which sounds weird, but y’all know what I mean. We all need a little spit and polish at times, a little fresh coat of paint. Feels good. Gives us a little oomph. So if you haven’t thought about branding and who you are as an author. If you haven’t looked critically at what you’re portraying through your website and promotional items, maybe it’s time you do.

It worked for me….and I’m really hoping I get to sit next to Damon again sometime. Maybe whatever he comes up with next time will land me on a list or lead to a six figure deal. He’s genius…which is why his branding is a light bulb.

So tell me today who you are as an author? Have you every changed your vision?

Oh, and since this is a party of sorts, we need a gift. And cake. Man, I wish I could share some cake with you. But I can give away a present. How about a lucky commenter (Rubies included) wins a $10.00 Amazon card and a copy of any of my books? Oh, and here’s the link to the book on Amazon in case you want to take a peek,. Happy Friday, friends!

 

 

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Hello everyone! Today I want to talk about a promotional idea, one that I and another writer are trying out, even as you read this.

Most readers have a preference of subgenres, and some will not dare to dangle even a toe into the other genre pond.  Romantic suspense readers might easily pick up books with contemporary, edgy covers while passing on books with Jane Austen type gowns gracing the cover. Historical readers might go for the stories featuring a hero in a kilt or with a sword. I, myself, pick up a British historical romance before a contemporary military or western romance. I know what to expect in the English and Scottish settings and language, especially when reading my favorite authors. The stories are comfortable and the “ride” I take to reach the end of the journey is as familiar, fun and wonderful as usual.

Untamed_Hearts_500The Perfect Hostage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So when my publicist recommended that I do a joint blog tour with an author who writes contemporary romantic suspense, I wasn’t sure it would work. My novella, UNTAMED HEARTS (Buy Link Untamed Hearts) is a 16th century romance that follows a pirate into the Scottish Highlands. The other author, Misty Evans, was releasing a romantic suspense novella, THE PERFECT HOSTAGE (Buy Link Perfect Hostage) featuring a Spec Ops hero from her Super Agent Series. Completely different settings with a completely different readership.

As Misty and I discussed our two seemingly opposite novellas, we realized that both involve characters taking a large risk. Our heroines take a “walk on the wild side” and try something new. And in both cases, the payoff is hugely gratifying.

That got us thinking about the benefits of taking risks, stepping out of the box and diving into something completely different. Aha! This was something we could suggest to readers. So I did a little easy research on the benefits of stepping outside the box and trying new things.

The following quotes are from The Franklin Institute of Science and discuss our brain health.

“Mental stimulation improves brain function and actually protects against cognitive decline…”

“Throughout life, your neural networks reorganize and reinforce themselves in response to new stimuli and learning experiences.”

“Consider your brain a muscle, and find opportunities to flex it. ‘Read, read, read,’ says Dr. Amir Soas of Case Western Reserve University Medical School in Cleveland.”

The article gives various ways to improve cognitive strength throughout our lives.  It recommends physical activity, learning a new language, as well as using your non-dominant hand for tasks like brushing teeth or moving a computer mouse. Basically doing something new or trying to do something familiar in a different way.

All reading stimulates the brain and reading something outside a person’s area of familiarity could add even more stimulus. So we’ve asked our readers to “take a walk on the wild side” and try out a different subgenre of romance. If they usually thrill at a man packing a semi-automatic and riding a motorcycle, we’ve asked them to take a look at my swashbuckling pirate stuck in the Scottish Highlands. If their hearts thump wildly while reading about a man in a kilt brandishing a lethal claymore, we’ve asked them to give a Special Ops agent, snowbound in a chalet, a chance. Our books are novellas so the time and monetary commitment is small (Both novellas are only $0.99 right now). And who knows, maybe after wading in the other pond a reader might decide to plunge into the other subgenre altogether.

I don’t know if it will work and I don’t think we can track numbers on it, but it is something new to try. The more we can promote each other and other subgenres, the more opportunity we create for readers to expand their reading preferences. And that will help all of us. So if you are contemplating a joint endeavor to promote, don’t rule out authors who write in completely different subgenres than you. Taking a “walk on the wild side” might be a perfectly fun way to broaden your readership.

Has anyone else tried something like this before, and did it work?

Do you have any suggestions for “outside the box” promotion?

 

More information about Heather McCollum can be found here on her web site: http://www.HeatherMcCollum.com. She can also be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HMcCollumAuthor and on FB at https://www.facebook.com/HeatherMcCollumAuthor.

More information about Misty Evans can be found here on her web site:

http://www.readmistyevans.com/ . She can also be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/readmistyevans and on FB at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMistyEvans .

Promo: How Much Do You Share?

Maybe I’ve been watching too much baseball lately, but you know what I think we need in writing?  Coaches.  I want a promo coach.  Someone to help me improve my swing and give me the confidence to dig in for each at bat.

I’m not a good salesman.  Recently, at my cousin’s birthday dinner a bunch of my family members shared our least favorite jobs we’d ever held.  Mine was the closest I’ve ever gotten to sales.  It’s just not my thing.  So needless to say, self-promotion stresses me out.  I think the most frustrating part is the fact that there is no right answer.  My mathematical brain wants to know the solution to the problem (solve for X, dammit!) – but what works for one book might fall flat with another.  Promo success is a constantly moving target.

Today I would be delighted to hear any promo magic bullets you have (please, tell me the secret!) – but really, I want to start a discussion about HOW MUCH.  My answers to these questions are based on what works for me (which is pretty much finding that instinctual balance between guilt over not doing enough promo and frustration that I’d rather be writing), but I’d be fascinated to hear where your comfort level falls.

How much time do you spend on promo versus time on your other writing jobs?

I’m a binger.  I binge write (shutting myself in a hermit hole and writing up to 30K words in a frenzied week) and so I suppose it is only natural that I binge promote as well.  Knowing this about myself, I’ll block out a week or two between projects for a rash of guest-blog writing or ad booking or social media binge-ing.  I know this isn’t the “right” way to build a following, but it satisfies the promo-guilt so I can get back to my happy place again.  How do you find the balance?

How much do you share about yourself on social media?

I’m not much of a social media sharer.  I’m never sure what readers want to know about me versus what is just social spam.  And one woman’s social spam is exactly what someone else wants to see.  (I’m not a cook, so I just ignore posts about what folks had for dinner, but some people get really engaged in recipe sharing.)  How do we let readers know us without oversharing – both for privacy reasons and to avoid boring people to tears?  My personal solution is that I have one aspect of my life that I blog about regularly – and that’s my travel.  I put up travelogs whenever I come home from a big trip (and by waiting until I’m home, I can share details about where I went and what I did without my mom worrying about me being stalker-bait).  But are travelogs enough?  Or are they superfluous, since I don’t write romances about exotic foreign locales?

How much do you reveal about your book to build enthusiasm for your book without spoiling your book for readers?

I’m a firm believer that the best way to sell your books is to use your words.  Excerpts, Teaser Tuesdays on Facebook, giveaways that get your books into new hands – I really think those are the best promotional tools.  But how much is too much?  There are movies I feel like I don’t need to see because I saw the entire plot in the trailer – the last thing I want to do is tease people out of buying my book.

Recently for the release of Naughty Karma, I did something that I would *love* as a reader, but that made me a little nervous as an author.  Since the last book of the series was releasing, I posted recaps of all the previous books on my website to refresh readers’ memories and bring people up to speed.  As a reader, I’ve often wished for synopses of long series so I don’t have to re-read the entire series every time a new release comes out.  But as an author, I worried that I was spoiling the books and making it so readers who hadn’t read the series had no motivation to do so.

I was glad I did it and got a positive response from readers, but it still gave me a few moments of unease.

Where is that line between tempting and oversharing?

Please, Ruby friends, help me find the “right” answers so my math brain can rest!

Cross-Self Promoting Thoughtfully

What are your passions? Writing has been one of mine since my 2nd grade teacher published my Christmas story in the local paper. Eventually I became a mom and my priorities shifted to include my growing family. I became supermom, ready to turn frowns upside down with my arsenal of homemade puppy-dog-face cookies and castle cakes. Other interests crowded in, but for the most part, family and writing remained my top passions in life.

Castle Birthday Cake

Castle Birthday Cake

Two and a half years ago I was given a third. I woke up in a hospital room to the words “it’s cancer” and life thrust me onto the most brutal topsy-turvy rollercoaster ever imagined. Teal ribbons, weekly chemo infusions, pills, doctor’s appointments, mouth ulcers, CT scans, shedding of ALL hair, a mailbox filled with get well cards, casseroles, flowers left on my doorstep, pain, panic, “who will you play with in heaven, Mommy, if I’m not with you” became my life.

When I first saw the chemo ward at the hospital, and all the bald, tired people hooked up to beeping machines with bags of drugs snaking into their bodies through various tubes, I cried on my husband’s arm. “They look dead, and I’m going to be one of them.”

Hooking Up

Hooking Up

What I didn’t realize at the time, but discovered quickly, was that those people are warriors, battling with everything they’ve got. I was proud to get to know them and to become an Ovarian Cancer Warrior, fighting for my right to live and be a mom, daughter, friend, and wife, fighting a beast that stalks women silently.

OC is the deadliest of the GYN cancers as it is the hardest to detect. I was diagnosed because I happened to mention some pelvic pain and mild bloating to my general practitioner when I went in for a possible broken hand. So I was diagnosed at stage IIc with a 70% chance of living 5 years. If I’d waited a couple more weeks, it could have easily moved to stage III with only a 20% chance to survive 5 years. So early detection of these whispered symptoms is crucial to survival.

Suddenly I had a new passion. My husband and I started the SHOUT Against the Whisper campaign with a mission to educate women about the whispered symptoms of this terrible beast. So…I have three passions in my life: writing, my family (although I’ve retired my supermom cape), and OC Awareness/Cancer support.

Me & my Highland Hero

Me & my Highland Hero

One thing we can do, as passionate people, is to blend our passions together in a way to enhance each one. But doing so must be done thoughtfully.

My third book was about to release when I started chemo. Part of me wanted to scream “I have cancer; buy my book!” But the sane part of me knew that wasn’t appropriate (unless perhaps I was writing cancer books, which I plan to do BTW).

I swore to God, the universe, and to my friendly kale juicer that I would use all my talents to educate and help save women if they would keep me alive to do so. I am a public speaker and I write, and I plan to use my skills in any way I can to spread the warning, not just because I swore back in those grim days, but because I’m genuinely passionate about not letting cancer win.

So in the back of my books, I list the whispered symptoms. When I do book signings or workshops or interviews, I give out symptom cards and ask for articles to list them. This type of cross-promoting is very appropriate.

However, this doesn’t always work in the reverse. When on the chemo ward, if someone was reading a romance, I would tell them about my books, quietly and in conversation. I donated some to the ward. At my OC Awareness events I might give away books for collected donations to OC Research or Education, but it is a minor part of the big push of alerting women on how to save their lives. Every time I try to cross these two passions in my life, I must be thoughtful, because promoting my writing in the face of suffering can come across as crass and just plain wrong. Which can completely turn people off to your work, something that should be avoided, obviously, at all costs.

Some passions hit around the same level on the emotional/life importance barometer and can be intertwined easily. If you are passionate about wine and wine features in one of your books, touting your book to wine lovers, on Twitter or FB or in person, can be appropriate after you’ve set up a friendly relationship with them. You still must remain thoughtful so as not to come across as only being an advertisement, but the promo is less tricky than trying to sell romance books to someone who is fighting to stay alive.

Healthy Mom Again!

Healthy Mom Again!

I am now finished with 15 months of chemo and am getting my life back in order, though I will never be the same. I’ve learned too much, felt too much, to be the same. Actually I think I’m better for the experience. In some ways cancer has connected me to readers. One woman wrote to me after reading the acknowledgments at the end of CAPTURED HEART where I detail out the symptoms. She was an OC survivor herself and thanked me for putting the symptoms out there in the world. I think she will be a reader of mine for life now. Sometimes there is cross-promo between very different passions, even passions that fall on very different levels. But it is something that cannot be forced.

So when you take stock of your life and your own passions and interests, do think of ways to use them to help promote your writing, but please remember to do so thoughtfully. What ways have you been able to cross-promote your passions?

Since it is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and because I think it is appropriate, below is a list of symptoms. They are mere whispers in a busy woman’s life, but you must slow down long enough to notice when something doesn’t seem right. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me at Heather@HeatherMcCollum.com or on my Ovarian Cancer Awareness FB page: https://www.facebook.com/SHOUTagainsttheWhisper or through my web site www.HeatherMcCollum.com .

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer:

Bloating, Pelvic Pain, Feeling Full quickly while Eating Less, Urinary issues.BEATsymptoms

Other symptoms may include fatigue, constipation, pain during intercourse, menstrual issues, indigestion, and back pain. If you have a symptom for 3 weeks or more, see your GYN for a pelvic exam.

If something feels abnormal, a trans-vaginal ultrasound and a CA125 blood test should be ordered. If you have a mass to be removed, your #1 way to survive if it is cancer, is to have a GYN Oncology Surgeon remove it.

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The Latest Comments

  • Louisa Cornell: It’s a great first line, Louise! I am looking forward to reading the book!
  • Lenee Anderson: The murderer is David’s best friend. I’m concerned if I said something along the lines of...
  • Darynda Jones: This is great, Lenee, especially for a first attempt. Wow. I’m wondering if the stakes can be...
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  • Heather McCollum: Yes, this works! Thank you Autumn! You are awesome!!

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