Monday, June 9, 2014

Writing for a Purpose

What is your purpose as a writer? Are you writing for fun? Money? Because your head will explode if you don't keep writing?
It's good to sit down and write out a list of reasons, because there will be days when you question your sanity. When you receive that tenth rejection letter or when your Kindle book receives a not-so-great review, you might start wondering "Is this really worth it?"
I write lists for each one of my projects. It's a good way to generate ideas for blurbs and descriptions, to work into review requests, and to tell people when they ask, "Why should I buy your book?"

Here's a list I put together for my website about my series, "The Adventures of Toby the Trilby."

The kind of books I set out to write when I started the series:

  • Books that kids will want to pick up and read, especially boys. Even though lots of girls like my books, I wanted to write books with lots of exciting adventures that boys could get into and enjoy.
  • Books that leave kids (and adults) encouraged about life. So many books in the futuristic genre leave people (at least me!) feeling depressed and hopeless.
  • Stories that don't talk down to kids, but rather encourage them to find out what larger vocabulary words mean. The best way to teach kids big words is to expose them to them in a context where they can figure it out for themselves, or say "Hey. Mom, what does this mean?"
  • Books families can read together. Yes, there are some deep ideas in my books, and some extremely intense moments. I hope that families can read and discuss these books together, even though they are fine for individual reading as well!
  • Books that bring people closer to God. Yes, they are simplified, and no, they don't teach the entire gospel message. I wanted to explore a few, simple truths in each book, like "What is my purpose?" "How do I know God loves me?" and "How can I forgive that person?" I'm hoping to encourage kids to want to find out more about the Giver of Truth, to be excited to seek new ideas for themselves. 
The great thing about having a list like this is you can go back and check to see if you are meeting your goals. I have had great feedback from kids about my book, especially boys. I have had many people tell me the book has helped them understand more about God. So even if it's never a bestseller, I feel like I have, at least partially, accomplished what I set out to do.
So what's your process? Do you write a list of goals for each book? I would love to hear any thoughts you have in the comments!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Publicity... Worth Paying For?

As most self-published authors learn a few months after they have nudged their literary child out of the nest to flutter its way into the Kindle world, sales don't come easy. A great deal of time and effort, perhaps even more than was put into writing the book itself, must be put into marketing the book. It would be nice if all you needed was a good product, and then people would be attracted to it like a BBQ stand in Texas, just by the scent of a delicious new story. Unfortunately, the internet is not scratch and sniff.

I published my Christian Sci-Fi story, "The Amazing Adventures of Toby the Trilby" in November of 2013. 
I worked very hard to get good reviews from friends and strangers and list it for free anywhere I could. Currently, I have 13 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon. (You can read them here)

So where to list it? I currently have the book for 99 cents, in hopes that people will read the first one and want the sequel (You can find it here)

I found a good list of places at this link and began researching them to find the best places. 

Most of them are pretty pricey. I also went to Fiverr and found a few gigs that advertised putting Kindle books on their blogs or FB pages, or they would do the work and submit your book for you. Here is the list of gigs I have tried so far:

So far, I have only seen results from bknights, and I only sold two copies during their promotion. I am not saying they didn't do a good job, I'm sure other people have had better results depending on genre. Just saying what worked for me.

But there is one place I had spectacular results, and that was eReader News Today. (website here) In order to list with them, you have to have at least 10 ratings on Amazon and at least 4.0. They charge you a small percentage of sales made on the day your book is listed, but they are only paid if you make sales. I made 56 sales with them in two days during my promotional period, which was spectacular for me! They also promote free Kindle books as well.

I have heard from other authors that and are good places to promote as well, but so far, though they made sales, I haven't talked to anyone that made back the 40.00 to 300.00 it costs to list with these sites.

I have spent about 20.00 advertising my FB author page (you can see it here) but saw no sales and very few likes for my money.

Do you have any experiences to share about book marketing web sites? A great gig on Fiverr or a free Facebook page worth listing on? I'd love to hear about it, after all, we are here to help each other!