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My name is Sandy. I am Catholic. Besides religious topics, I am interested in politics. This profile is really to showcase my ideas. In the words of St. Bernadette, "My job is to inform, not convince."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Q/A Marketing

Hello, everyone!

So, I just got an email question about how to market a book. This is something that I am still trying to figure out. I have tried somethings, and I have not tried others. But one thing is for sure, marketing is very, very important. It is the only way you can reach your audience. The problem is there is no one marketing tool that works for everyone, and marketing campaigns can be costly. I prefer to do as much as I can for free. However, at first, there will be a gain in the audience, but not in funds. That is to be expected. I can only share what has worked for me, and what I hope to try in the future. Let me know if you want me to talk about anything else. Hope this helps!


WEBSITE vs BLOG
If you can have both, why not? A blog is basically an online journal, and a website is where all your work can be found. Because I have artistic abilities, both manually and digitally, I was able to put together my website without the use of ugly templates. I used Intuit Website Services (www.intuit.com) which is about $7.00/month for a basic package. However if you have no artistic ability, you will have to settle for one of the templates they offer. It doesn't make the website personal, but I learned how to use Intuit in a few days so it is one of the easier programs to use.

If this is something you can't afford, then just do the blog. Blogs are FREE!!! Blogs are easier to put together with many templates to choose from, and you can advertise on them. However, blogs do not have the layout that traditional websites have, because they were never meant to replace websites. They were meant to be writing tools.

FREE vs $0.99-S1.99 EBOOKS vs $2.99 AND UP EBOOKS
There is a general rule for how to price your books. Some people don't listen... They start off high, and wonder why they don't sell books. HELLO! PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE AS AN AUTHOR!!!

So, here is what I did. I wrote my novel, and before I finished editing it, I put it on a shelf. I then wrote a few short stories. I made sure that although they weren't novel quality, they were good. Then I gave them away for FREE which were basically my way of giving away writing samples. Then people can decide whether they like your work enough to buy your novel.

I would NEVER give away a novel that I spent a year writing for free. You worked to hard. If your work is always free, no one will pay for any of your work. However, you MUST sell it for cheap. Therefore, your first novel should be priced between $0.99-$1.99. This is the price brackets in which debut novels succeed. Now, don't expect to make millions of dollars. You only get a little less than half of book sales. So, if your book is $0.99, you stand to make about $0.47/book. Remember that you are laying the ground work to building your audience. That takes time! So, hang on.

After you have sold a few hundred books, put out your next book. Price that one a bit higher. However, honor the fact that people buy indie books because they are cheaper than traditional books. You will sell more by keeping the price low. Stay below $4.99.

COVERART and BOOK TRAILERS
People are ultimately visual. So, book covers and trailers are important. Because I am able to create my own cover art, I can make that vision that is in my head a reality. Not everyone has that ability. For those, there are places where you can buy stock images from various websites.

It only works to your advantage to make a book trailer. Don't you watch a movie trailer before you watch a movie? So, make a book trailer! There is an easy program to use on Windows called Windows Movie Maker. It is as simple as dropping the image into the slot and picking an effect. You can narrate or download some royalty free music.

BLOGGERS vs PAID REVIEWS
Reviews are important! When someone reads your book and leaves a review, it can sway the mind of any prospective reader. Now, sometimes a review is so bad that some people are curious and read it anyway. So, in that any review is a good review.

However, when good things are said about you, word of mouth spreads. So, it is important to get reviews from people who are considered the authority in the field. Indie Book Bloggers are everyday readers. The only difference is that they have a following. So, if they like your book, they will tell their audience. The con is their backlog. They have a certain amount of books that they have agreed to read, and it can take a year for them to get to yours so be prepared to wait.

Paid reviews are good, because they are better respected. There are some reviewers that are just not questions. If Kirkus says you wrote a great book, then your books is sure to be a best seller. The only con is the price. To get a review, one has to pay upwards of $500.00.

INDIE AWARDS
If you have the money, then go for it. If you believe in your work, why wouldn't you? It takes about $50-$75 to enter for some of the Indie Awards available. Your work is going to be read, and it stands a chance of being chosen for an award. However, there is no guarantee that your book will be chosen. But if it is, you can use that in your product description. Your readers will see that, and they will think that your book must be great.

OTHER TOOLS
I am a believer in other marketing tools such as flyers, bookmarks, postcards, etc. However, I am able to customize my image as an artistic person. If you can't do this, grab a few stock images and make a bookmark that in nice looking. People will not use something that looks like junk. If they do, they are not constantly looking at how nice the cover looks... How interesting the premise is... They are just using it without looking at it, and that is not what you want.

Plus, you have to know your market. If you are marketing to kids, give away bookmarks at a school or library or after school center. Know your market! Know your audience! Eventually, you can give away some of these items on your webpage to your fans. So, consider a small order at first. When you have a sizable fan base, then you can do one large order.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Q/A Tips for Creative Writing

I sometimes get asked questions about tips for creative writing. People want to know how I start a story from concept to the point where I begin to write. So, I am going to write tips here and there to help people with their personal writings.


Q: So, what is the first thing you do when you write a story?
A: Come up with an idea! For me, it is easy, because my brain just pumps out idea after idea. But for most people that are just starting out, ideas just don't flow like that. So for ideas, watch movies, read books, and search myths/legends on the internet. Sometimes doing these things can spark your imagination and get the wheels turning. So, get the initial inspiration from these sources and add your own twist. Look up my post entitled Just Published WW2.

Q: Do you brain storm or use outlines before you write?
A: I have done both, but it doesn't really work for me to make rigid outlines. By rigid, I mean detailed to the point where all you have to do is write dialogue and there is no room for spontaneity. I like to use loose outlines, meaning I know how I want to begin. I have some ideas for the middle, and I know where I want to end up. I write every idea down. When I start writing, the process is spontaneous. I know the general idea of the chapter, but I am able to come up with new ideas at the same time and integrate them into the chapter.

Q: How do you come up with characters?
A: Characters can look a number of ways like having many different eye and hair color. Look at your friends. They come in all shapes and sizes. Personality is what is important. For me, each character is like an exaggerated facet of my own personality. So if the character is supposed to be crazy, I know how crazy I can be, and write like I was 10x more insane than normal. You can also use those around you as inspiration. So if you have a superficial friend that only wears brand name clothes, and there is a place in your story for a character like that then write about them. Stay away from sterotypical or stock characters!!! No dumb, popular cheerleaders. No class clowns or school bullies. Make up a character that is all your own. There are plenty of articles about this online so if you have questions about this, you can Google some great articles with examples.

Q: What is the key to writing an entertaining story?
A: You! Never write something that you wouldn't read yourself. Odds are if you wouldn't read it, no one else will either! Write stories that are you. For example, when I was younger, I tried to write a romance novel. The problem was I couldn't finish it! It wasn't me. I don't read romance novels! I like the paranormal. So, I added vampires to this story, and suddenly, the book came to life. It was easier to write, and the story was 10x better. So, don't write anything that you wouldn't read yourself.


Hope this helps. If you have any more questions out there, send them to me. I may answer them on future posts. Thanks!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Inspiration

So, I have read posts from a lot of Indie authors about how to write a short story or a novel. These tips are pretty interesting, but I think it is better to write organically. This means to have a general outline and fill in the details as you write spontaneously. This allows you to come up with new ideas as you write and the ability to integrate them into the story without ruining your precise plans.

So, with the way I write, I know people may wonder what inspires me. Many writers draw inspiration from the world around them. This is true for me, but there is also another gold mine for inspiration... Your dreams.

When I was thirteen years old, I dreamed of two sisters, one blonde and one brunette, in love with the same man. So, I decided to write about these characters and for a while I wrote a few chapters of a love story. The name of the main character was Laura. Her sister was named Linda. With my limited thirteen year old mind, I envisioned these characters, but was unable to developed them enough to finish the story.

Fast forward about thirteen years, and my mind still knew these characters. Choosing to change up the story to a genre that was more my style, I added vampires, rewriting my old concept into my novel entitled Restraint. And Laura remained the same rebellious girl I had thought up years ago.

Dreams are a wonderful source of inspiration if they make sense. The best dreams are the ones that leave you thinking about them way into the morning hours. So, dream on my fellow writers. There are many stories waiting to be told and many characters waiting to be thought up.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Setbacks

I have wanted nothing but to continue to work hard at completing Wicked Magic. Yet, I have been hit with one problem after another. First, I had a severe cold that would not go away. Now, I have a stomach virus that my nephew passed to everyone in the family. So, I have been sick for almost three weeks straight!

Still, I am pushing forward with writing my new novel, and I have to say that I like the way it is turning out. It is a struggle to write while sick. I would have wanted to be further along than where I am, but at least, I am not rewriting. I actually like what I am writing although it has a darker theme than the original short stories.

As for the bookmarks I printed, I gave them out at libraries and schools in the New York City area which was a success as I gained more readers. I plan to eventually print more and also print postcards to sell them on my website for a few cents, but that is for the future. Until then, I may print more for promotional purposes.

Stay posted!