Free Promotion increases sales?

I just finished a two day free promo of Elementary Magic and noticed an odd trend.  During a free promo, sales of my other titles increase as well.  This is not the first time this has happened, so I don’t think it’s a fluke.  Maybe the increased visibility brings new readers? 

The real jump usually happens about a week or so after a free promo.  I’ll report back on that later. 

How to build the initial marketing plan for your book

Last week, I promised to post my marketing strategies in the hopes that other indie authors would find them useful.  I’m still analyzing which were most helpful, but this will give you an outline about how to set things up so you’re not hunting around when you’re posting. 

I use a word document to list all of my links – both long versions and shortened links.  I use bitly to shorten my links, but there are several services out there which you can use (owly and tinyurl come to mind)

Here’s what you’re going to need links for: 

You book on Amazon.com, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and any other site where your book is listed for sale.  For Amazon, you might want to get a universal link so people can find it in the US, UK, AU, DE, etc. stores easily.  BookGoodies has a universal link generator that’s very helpful.  You can find that here: http://bookgoodies.com/geotargeted-amazon-link-tool/

 

In addition to your books, you’ll need a link or info for your entire on-line presence. These are the most common ones:
Your email address
Your Facebook link
The Facebook link for your book page (if you don’t have one, you might want to build one!)
Your Amazon.com author link(if you don’t have one, go here: http://www.amazon.com/authorcentral)
Your Twitter link
Your Twitter handle (different sites will ask you for different things)
Your Pinterest link (if you have one)
Your Pinterest name
Your Shelfari link
Your GoodReads link
Your blog link
I compile all of this info before I even start posting, so when I’m posting about my book I can just copy and paste the links rather than going hunting for them. The first time I did a marketing blast, it took me forever because every site wanted different information. When I discovered that little gem, I opened a word document and went to town. Now, I have all of those links handy so I can just copy and paste.

The other thing you’re going to need is at least three different book descriptions. These should be different from your back cover description as well. This is the part that generally takes the most time for me. I try to craft each one with a different first sentence, different “action” words, and a different “feel”. I’ve heard the the search-bots love unique content so I don’t post the same description on every site. Here’s an example for Legendary Magic.

Teaser 1:

Dr. Arienne Cerasola might have a suspicious mind, but that doesn’t mean something nasty isn’t being planned by two of her former acquaintances. They have banded together on an archaeological expedition in the United Kingdom, and that could spell trouble for the magical community. The magical apocalypse kind of trouble.

With a blend of humor, suspense, and fascinating research, author R. Leonia Shea brings magic to the world of archaeology in the third installment of the Relic Hunter series.

Teaser 2:

As a witch and disgraced archaeologist, Dr. Arienne Cerasola shouldn’t be surprised when Kingston Pon asks her help to find a lost relic. After all, Kingston is one of the senior members of the United Coven and Alliance and Arienne is one of the few people who knows about his secret resistance activities with the Crux Crucio Orbis. When she learns her own Grandfather is involved in the C.C.O., Arienne’s more than a little angry that her family has been keeping secrets. Secrets about their involvement in the magical world. Secrets about Arienne’s legacy. Keeping secrets means creating lies and Arienne is determined to unravel the deception even if it means collapsing the foundation of her new life.

Author R. Leonia Shea brings the reader on an entertaining (and educational) quest for a legendary sword. Her unique blend of humor, suspense, and slightly neurotic characters make Legendary Magic a must read.

Teaser 3:

Caught between the clandestine world of the C.C.O., the dangers of the Alliance, and the treachery of a new magical organization Dr. Arienne Cerasola must trace the grain of truth in the legends passed down from the ancient Celts, through the Roman Empire, and right into King Arthur’s court to find a legendary sword. The legends were created to protect the truth and keep the relic from passing into the wrong hands, but other organizations are trying to unravel the mystery. Arienne must solve the puzzle first, or the whole magical community could suffer – starting with her own family.

Author R. Leonia Shea began writing Legendary Magic after a research-binge into magical swords – the final result is an entertaining romp through the world of archaeology with a magical twist. Read this book – you’ll laugh a little, learn a little, and be completely entertained.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll realize that all three teasers are slightly re-worked sections from the original book description. Once you have all of these preliminary tasks done, you’re ready to start blitzing.

Now, I have to go post about my own book for a little while. If you’ve read this far, here’s a hint: Elementary Magic (the first book in my fantasy series) is going on a freebie promotion tomorrow (9/08/14) and tuesday (9/09/14). Here’s the link if you want to grab it when it’s free:
http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00736TWKI

My zen moment…

IMG_3887

I’m uploaded and saved as “draft”. I’m going to revise the cover (so I don’t spoil the cover reveal!) and make Legendary Magic available for pre-order! Then I’m going to have a glass of wine and take a nap!

The next time I see the person who challenged me to do more marketing, I’m going to kick her in the shins. Twice. I’ve been diligently developing a system and as soon as I clean up my notes on what I did yesterday and today (I’m too tired to do it now…) I’ll post it here in the hopes that it helps another indie author.

The last struggles before publishing

I’m finishing the THIRD edit on Legendary Magic. That might seem excessive to some people, but it’s my usual process. I’m planning on an early September release, so the clock is ticking. For me, this is the most stressful part of self-publishing and there are many early mornings when I get out of bed in a rush because there are things that need to be done on the book before I forget. I usually think of these things right before I fall asleep the night before so by the time dawn comes, I’ve had at least seven hours to obsess.

And I do mean obsess. The last few weeks before the release mean crazy dreams. Last night I dreamed my husband and I ordered Japanese food from a food court on the North Shore for ourselves, a Japanese businessman, and a woman with purple hair from Germany. When the food didn’t arrive in two hours, I ventured into the kitchen to ask about it and nobody spoke English. Eventually, a hostile old woman began waving a ticket in my face while yelling that someone wrote one of the items down wrong, so they didn’t bother to make any of the food. By the time I found that out, all of the other restaurants were closed and I had to explain to my husband and two strangers who didn’t speak English that someone didn’t get something written down right, so we would all have to go hungry.

In the light of day, it’s clear to me that I’m afraid if I don’t get this book edited perfectly and immediately, I’ll starve and let down not only my family, but complete strangers. This is simply not reality; it’s just the stress of pre-release jitters. It happens every time I get itchy to publish my latest book.

There is no quick fix to this part of the process, but I do have a few strategies to keep me focused. I’d like to share those with you in case you find yourself in the same boat.

1.) Set a vague date. Don’t nail yourself down to a specific day until you’re sure you can get everything done by that date. If you’re self-publishing, you don’t need a deadline to strangle you. A vague date is good enough to get you on track and working toward a more specific day.

2.) Work out your pre-release marketing strategy. There are tons of places to post about your new releases, so make yourself a list of all of the ones you plan on using and set it up as a document so you can work on it in small chunks. I’ll post mine as soon as I’m up to the portion of my process (I’m not there yet – that’s the beauty of being an “indie”).

3.) Disconnect the internet. There are myriad places where indies go to chat about their books and connect with other indies (I have several, and most of the links are on the side of this page). If I can hop on-line I can see who else released what book and then spend a few minutes commenting on posts and pages. This leaves me feeling even more pressured to just FINISH! I generally complete my books in my living room (on the couch with my dog) and as far from the business end of writing as I can get.

4.) Since I publish exclusively on Amazon (that’s another discussion entirely) I can go in to my dashboard and upload my cover, blurb, details, and tags and save the draft until the book is done. That gives me peace of mind that all that’s left is the final conversion.

5.) Give your beta-readers a loose timeline. Mine know that when I give it to them, I’m itchy. They usually take no longer than two weeks to read. They’ve been with me a while now, so once the book is in their hot little hands, they flood me with emails and phone calls to point out the little things I need to go back and fix. Once I give the draft to them, we’re on short time. I edit, fix, and rephrase daily depending on their feedback. If there’s something glaring – I stop them all and fix the error – then I send a new copy out and we start up again. I’m in constant contact with them during this process and they are my salvation!

I should mention here that I have two groups of readers. The first group gets a rough copy, then I edit the draft a second time, take a few weeks off from the story, then the book goes through another round of editing. The copy that’s been edited three times goes to my second set of readers. The next time I finish a book, the two groups switch tasks (so everyone doesn’t have to read the not-perfect copy every time). While I do have a friend who edits for me (one with a Ph.D. in English), I also read the edited copy and sometimes sneak a change or two into the final draft because I am that obsessive.

As I get closer to publication, I’ll tell you where I am in the process in case something I do would make another author’s life easier. It’s hard to remember that you’re not alone when you’re an indie. You just need to work a little harder to find the tricks that make your process work for you.

Happy writing!
Leigh

Writing Updates and UK Reviews

It’s only March and already I can tell 2014 is going to be a busy year! Legendary Magic has gone through the first edit and just needs a few revisions before it goes through the second round. I’m planning on a June release. I just checked the links for Elementary Magic on the Amazon UK site and I have two five star reviews – that is so awesome and as usual, I got a little misty-eyed when I read them.

My foray into an entirely different genre – historical fiction – will also be released this summer. The Servant of the Flame is the title of that book and I have a draft cover that I think I love – but I’d really like your feedback on it. Here it is: content_4601409_DIGITAL_BOOK_THUMBNAIL

I’m also working on a series of short stories based on the characters in The Servant of the Flame. I did a lot of research for this book and stumbled across some great stories and events which I wanted to tell. I’m going to post those stories here, but who knows? Maybe they’ll become a separate book of short stories. I’m also going to put up some links for ancient Roman history that total Roman geeks like me might appreciate. If you’re interested in the topic, Amazon has a great selection of FREE books on the topic like Livy, Dio, Plutarch, and a whole raft of other historians who deal with the every day life of the people in Republican Rome.

I’m going to work on the book blurbs for Legendary Magic and the Servant of the Flame and when I get the published on this site, I would greatly appreciate it if you could share them around with people you might think would be interested. I’d like to create a little “buzz” for them before the release and I know my book sales rely on word-of-mouth. Thank you in advance.

Oh, one more thing: If you’re reading this site and you’d like to contact me – drop me a note, message, or comment! I’d love to hear from more readers – that’s what makes me a better writer!

Historical Fiction Work Out

I know a lot about Republican Rome.  I’ve read Plutarch, Dio, Livy, Tacitus, and Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series multiple times.  Throw in a little Anthony Everett and Steven Saylor and I’m pretty well versed…or so I thought.  I am neck deep the process of putting my first foray into historical fiction together and have discovered that my knowledge is hard to put down chronologically in a way that lets the events of the time period support my story.  I have spreadsheets, outlines, note cards, and powerpoints – oh my!  So with this being said…I salute the authors of historical fiction.  My dear Ms. McCullough, I had no idea how difficult this would be. 

Efficient Author Strategies

I keep a journal with story ideas – it has two sentence descriptions for some stories and nine page layouts for others. I have a file of book covers on my computer for books I haven’t written yet. I already have my next five writing projects outlined in my head and yet sitting down to the computer and hammering them out isn’t always easy because there doesn’t seem to be time. Most writers have a backlog of writing that needs to get done, but there are a few who seem to publish a new book every few months.

So how do writers get down to work so they use their time most efficiently? I’ve been experimenting with ways to make my own writing more prolific and here’s what has been working for me:

Disable your internet. I can spend hours popping on and off the ‘net, so I turn off my internet when I’m sitting down to write. There are also programs you can buy that will restrict your access to only certain times. It’s a huge time-suck when you’re checking you various social media sites because there has rarely been a time when I’ve logged onto facebook without finding something interesting that I clicked through to!

Keep an outline running. I write with two documents open on my screen – the manuscript and the outline. The outline is a fluid document that I add to as I work – sometimes the story goes in a direction OTHER than the one I originally envisioned. I revise my outline so I’m not spending precious writing minutes going back through the story to check a detail.

I’m also a huge fan of index cards. I like to write the plot twist on one card and then each character’s role in it on others. It makes it easy to reference those little interlocking pieces that can take hours to add or days to untwist when the story is done.

When I don’t feel like writing – I edit. I edit ruthlessly – but as my writing habits have improved, the process of editing is way different. When I wrote my first book I had to “trim” the manuscript. I found long passages where I was obviously “in the zone” and wrote for hours on end. Those passages needed to be trimmed. Now, when I’m in the zone, I tend to get better flow because I write so consistently. I don’t lose the thread of the story because I work on it every day and I edit the last page or so of the previous day’s work when I sit down to write. That keeps me brushed up on where I was going.

Set a “plot-point goal”. I rarely write without having a point in the story that I’m aiming to reach. I set plot-point goals when I turn on my computer. I want to get to the castle or I want to get to the point where I bring back Coyote. The goal focuses my writing and keeps me thinking ahead for places where I need to add things or connect threads.

Use your research time wisely. Even though I write Urban Fantasy, I do research. I have a spreadsheet that I work from and I copy web addresses of sites that are interesting to me into the spreadsheet. I code by topic, key word, and type of site (description, photo, map, etc.) and when I’m researching I bookmark sites in a separate folder and then add the information to a spreadsheet. I do this because I’ve spent hours trying to find sites that I remembered seeing something interesting on and that’s FRUSTRATING!

So go forth and write – efficiently!