Writer’s Corner: Direct Selling on the Kickstarter Platform

Kickstarter seems to be the latest platform for direct sales of your books. They aren’t new to the scene, but they have changed considerably since they first made their appearance. (Look here if you’d like to see a 2012 guest post about Kickstarter by author Tim Baker when they were first starting up.) Up until recently, Kickstarter has been looked upon like a platform where you would go ask for money from people, similar to Go Fund Me, but with , the spectacularly successful campaign that Bryan Sanderson did recently, which everyone seems to be talking about, it looks like that impression may be changing.

Platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon form what Joanna Penn refers to as the “creator economy”, which is similar to what artists did during the Renaissance to survive. (You can listen to Joanna’s interview with Bryan Cohen, author of the Sell More Books Show podcast, on the subjects of Kickstarter and multiple streams of income on The Creative Penn, here.) Renaissance patrons would fund artists and support them so that they could survive while creating their art. Likewise, authors today cannot be expected to survive on just their book income. Most of us would truly starve if we tried to do that. According to Joanna, there are readers out there who are not only willing, but eager, to support your work, you just have to find them.

No. Today’s creators must have multiple streams of income, and many have day jobs to support them, only indulging their craft on a part time basis. Kickstarter provides a platform designed for creatives, including authors, where we can sell our creations directly to our reading audience without the middlemen distributors, such as Amazon, and by selling direct, we receive more than our 70%, allowed by Amazon, or whatever percentage we get from other distributors, but there are a few things we need to prepare for a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Make no mistake. Kickstarter is not a platform where you beg for money, as some may believe. It’s method of direct selling, and when you run a Kickstarter campaign, you have to put in the work for your money. I learned this by following the Kickstarter campaign of Kevin J. Anderson from the operations side of things.

As his student, I was allowed an inside look into the workings of a Kickstarter campaign, and a quite successful one, at that. KJA ran a Kickstarter to fund his latest Dan Shamble Zombie Detective novel, Double Booked. He showed us how to set up the project overview, set your overall campaign goal, set up with Stripe and attach to your bank account so you can get paid, create a video to tell people about your project, set up incentives for the different tiers and stretch goals, etc… Let me tell you, there is a lot of work involved.

Kevin also gave the whole Dan Shamble series eye-catching new covers, which are absolutely fabulous. Then, once the Kickstarter campaign had run its course, the author must make good on their promises and provide the deliverables. For Kevin’s campaign, that involved doing print runs and signing each print copy of the book and mailing them out to his supporters at the appropriate level, (he actually ended up hiring someone to mail them all out, there were so many), as well as following up to be sure each supporter fills out and returns their Kickstarter survey.

KJA’s overall goal was $2,000, which he exceeded. He started at the $5 level, which provided a digital copy of Double Booked. This was the lowest tier of support, so anyone who subscribed to the campaign, at any level, received this. The tiers went all the way up to the $10,000 crazy super fan level, where Kevin promises to narrate an audio book, which he did anyway, then offered as a $25 add on during the campaign. I don’t know how likely it would be for him to actually get a $10,000 crazy super fan to jump on the campaign bandwagon, but either way he narrates his own audio book, and either way he makes money. (You can see just how well KJA did with this Kickstarter here.)

Advice from the hosts of the Six Figure Author podcast (https://6figureauthors.com/ Episode 048 – July 23, 2020) was to never do a Kickstarter for something which you can’t fund on your own, in case you don’t meet your goal. Kevin had Double Booked written before he began the Kickstarter. He knew he could deliver all the rewards promised at every tier. Doing this assures that none of your supporters go away disappointed. Satisfied readers are what is important here, because satisfied readers come back for more. They also suggest setting a lower goal at first, as low as $500, so you’ll be more likely to be able to meet the goal, then raising the bar for subsequent campaigns, building gradually.

Kevin’s campaign was not as crazy successful as Bryan Sanderson’s, which ran right around the same time, but both are examples of how an author can use Kickstarter to sell their work directly to their readers and make decent money. (You can see how crazy successful Bryan Sanderson’s Kickstarter really was here.) Granted, not all authors are Kevin J. Anderson or Bryan Sanderson. While some followers come from the Kickstarter community, it does help to have an existing following, people who already love and admire your work. I think it also helps if you are an established author with a decent backlist, otherwise you would have to make all the rewards new works, which would be even more work for the author.

U.S.A. Today bestselling authors Russell P. Nohelty and Monica Leonelle coauthored Get Your Book Selling on Kickstarter, which talks about reasons to sell direct through Kickstarter, how to sell books on Kickstarter, how to budget and market your Kickstarter project, and more. This book takes you step by step through setting up your Kickstarter campaign, and even though I watched KJA do it, I must admit I was intimidated by the sheer number of steps which must be taken and the things which should be included, and of course, it helps to illustrate everything visually, which adds even more to do. It is really a bit overwhelming. This book reinforces the idea that while Kickstarter does have a community of followers who are looking for campaigns of interest to support, your chances of success will be much improved if you already have a flowing to bring with you to to the platform.

From the author side, there’s a lot involved, but from the supporter side, it’s pretty cool because you get all kinds of goodies. For my support, I received a digital copy of Double Booked, plus a new short story in the series, “Bump in the Night”. As well as stretch goal rewards of digital copies of Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories: Fantasy; from his most popular epic space opera series, Saga of the Seven Suns: Two Short Novels; and a government mystery thriller which he coauthored with Doug Beason, PhD, Virtual Destruction. I’ll be posting reviews for all of these down the road, but there were so many that it’s going to take me a while to get through them. (For now, you can read my review of his Selected Stories: Science Fiction here: https://writingtoberead.com/2019/03/01/kevin-j-andersons-selected-stories-science-fiction-volume-2-a-must-read-for-science-fiction-fans/)

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For Kaye Lynne Booth, writing is a passion. Kaye Lynne is an author with published short fiction and poetry, both online and in print, including her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction; and her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets. Kaye holds a dual M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing with emphasis in genre fiction and screenwriting, and an M.A. in publishing. Kaye Lynne is the founder of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services and WordCrafter Press. She also maintains an authors’ blog and website, Writing to be Read, where she publishes content of interest in the literary world.

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Review in Practice: Newsletters – Bonuses & Reader Magnets, Frequency and Auto-Responders

One aspect of book marketing I’ve been delving into is newsletters, or reader’s groups, if you prefer. It sounds a lot better to say, “Join my Reader’s Group” than it does to say, Subscribe to my Newsletter”. This is a suggestion that Andrea Pearson of the Six Figure Author Podcast offers, and I like it. Andrea Pearson is like the newsletter queen, marketing her own books through her newsletter successfully and teaching others how to do the same. She offers courses on Newsletter marketing among others through her website, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken the basic course, and I also have her Publish Strong box set. You can read my “Review in Practice” for that set here.

Other things that Andrea recommends is emailing frequently, like once a week, and I believe Kevin J. Anderson also follows this practice. To me this sounds like a lot. I feel like I would have to really like an author to not be annoyed to receive emails that frequently from them. After signing up for KJAs newsletter and receiving his auto-sequence, I found that it was kind of cool, and because some of them included newsletter bonuses of free books, I didn’t mind receiving those frequent emails at all.

But, let’s face it. We’re all not as prolific as KJA, or even as prolific as Andrea Pearson. Especially if you’re just starting out, you may be lucky if you can produce a book a year. I realized a while back that I wasn’t prolific and wrote a post about that here. Just as you need a hook for your stories to make readers want to read more, you also need a sales hook in your newsletter to make them want to read other things which you’ve written so you can grow your fanbase and email list. If you don’t write fast enough to produce several books a year, and if you don’t have a big backlist to draw from, don’t overlook the value of a good short story. While it’s true that short fiction is tougher to sell than novels, when it comes to newsletter magnets, short fiction can be an author’s friend.

In order to better understand how to make a newsletter work for me, I’ve subscribed to the newsletters of several big name authors to see how they set up their reader magnets and auto-sequences.

The Case of the Vanishing Boy is a short mystery story by Kristine Kathryn Rush that I received for free for signing up for the WMG Grab a Book and Chill newsletter; what indie authors call a reader magnet, designed to draw in new readers. ‘They’ say short fiction is harder to sell, whether we’re talking single stories, collections or anthologies. As a creator of anthologies, I believe ‘they’ are right. But short fiction can be great to use for newsletter bonuses, and/or reader magnets. This little mystery story was just the right length for me to enjoy and to made me feel as if I’d received a good value in exchange for my email address

Kristine Kathryn Rusch and her husband Dean Wesley Smith are both hybrid authors who have been in this business for many years and are both masters of short fiction, so receiving this story really was a treat. It was a fun mystery that could be read in one sitting. It’s hard not to give away spoilers on short stories, and for mysteries, spoilers could mean death. So instead of giving the whole brief plot away, let me just say that it was a fun mystery that could be read in one sitting. It was well-written and entertaining, stirring up questions throughout and providing a satisfying ending, just as a mystery story should.

A much darker read is He Meant No Harm, by Dean Wesley Smith, which serves as a second reader magnet for the WMG Grab a Book and Chill newsletter. I guess they figure at least one of the two books will appeal to you. Again, I’m not obligated to review, but did enjoy this brief trip down memory lane with the protagonist, although it left me walking away with a very different feeling from the one I had after reading the Rusch story, so perhaps they are onto something by offering two very different stories. This story was very brief, so my complaint here was that I was disappointed that there wasn’t more to it, (but that might just be me). It did have a full story arc, I just would have liked to have a bit more before it ended, so I guess I felt a little cheated.

I can’t say that about the reader magnet for the WMG Newsletter, The Rusch Reader: A Newsletter Exclusive, however. Just the opposite in fact. This collection of short fiction provides a delectable sampling from Kristine Katherine Rusch’s various short fiction series and spans across her genres, of which there are many, written under various pen names, as well as her own. The Rusch Reader is a book length collection of short fiction, all well-written and entertaining, all quite enjoyable to read, some which were downright memorable. And when you read as much short fiction as I do, that’s saying a lot. But the thing that adds the most value for me was the last sample book, which wasn’t a story at all, but a short non-fiction book on how to negotiate, which is invaluable for authors everywhere. Signing up for the newsletter is the only way you can acquire this fantastic collection, a sampling that may turn you into a die-hard Rusch reader, you must subscribe to Kristine Katherine Rusch’s newsletter, which makes it a great reader magnet and well worth giving up my email address.

For signing up for the Kevin J. Anderson reader group, I received a copy of one of his Dan Shamble Novels, Working Stiff, which I had previously read and reviewed in his Zomnibus. (You can read my review here.) His Dan Shamble books are always entertaining and fun to read, so this is an excellent choice for a reader magnate. Although it is not typical of his science fiction or fantasy series, but it is a way to get readers to take a look at what else he has available.

His second email in his auto sequence delivers a link to listen to his Clockwork Lives audiobook for free, which is pretty cool and making me feel even more value delivered.

His second email in his auto sequence delivers a link to listen to an audio reading by KJA of “The Percussor’s Tale” from the Clockwork Lives steampunk novel, written with Rush drummer Neil Peart, for free. This is pretty cool and making me feel even more value delivered.

The fifth email in his auto-responder offers another free book, The Kevin J. Anderson Complete Booklist and Reader’s Guide. What a clever way to make things easy for his readers. I’m impressed.

The sixth offers another free ebook, Blindfold. Which all leads into an offer to join his “KJA Special Forces” street team in the eighth email to be delivered over a month’s time from when I subscribed.

Previously, I had let my newsletter fall to the wayside for more than a year, but this research endeavor has convinced me that my Newsletter is one of my most valuable marketing tools. The subscribers are added to your email list, providing you with a direct way to engage with your readers, and you own that, not some third party middleman.

When I went back into my Mailchimp account, I found that they’d made a lot of changes and I had difficulty finding my way around and locating my past newsletter campaigns. I have since revived my newsletter, but I’m still struggling to figure out the auto-responder and other technological stuff. I’ll get it eventually. For now, I’m emailing monthly and figuring it all out as I go. I’ve managed to change my reader magnet, so when you join, you receive a free copy of my short story collection, Last Call & Other Short Fiction, and set up a Book Funnel link to deliver it, (I think – If you decide to join, I’d appreciate feedback to let me know if it is working properly).

My subscribers are not growing very fast, but I figure that will come in time, too. Different genre books target different reading audiences, so it’s more difficult to market as a multi-genre author, but with time, I’ll figure that one out, too. My newsletter journey is just beginning. If you’d like to join my new reader’s group to receive updates on new releases from WordCrafter Press, myself and others, as well as upcoming writing events, you can join here: https://mailchi.mp/64aa2261e702/klb-wc-newsletter. You’ll receive a copy of my short story collection just for joining. I do hope you’ll all come along for the ride.

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For Kaye Lynne Booth, writing is a passion. Kaye Lynne is an author with published short fiction and poetry, both online and in print, including her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction; and her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets. Kaye holds a dual M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing with emphasis in genre fiction and screenwriting, and an M.A. in publishing. Kaye Lynne is the founder of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services and WordCrafter Press. She also maintains an authors’ blog and website, Writing to be Read, where she publishes content of interest in the literary world.

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Ask the Authors 2022 Book & Blog Series: Book Marketing

Ask the Aurhors 2022

Welcome to the final segment of the “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series. This week, a final introduction for Middle Grade & Y.A. author, L. Jagi Lamplighter, whose essay contribution is titled “The Trouble with Troupes” and a Q & A session on book marketing will be finishing off this wonderful series.

I want to thank all the readers who chose to spend their Saturdays hanging out with us for the past ten weeks, as we give this unique writing reference a send off, and let all the authors out there see why they need the plethora of writing wisdom contained between the covers of Ask the Authors 2022 writing reference anthology. And now it’s time to get started with this final segment.

Meet L. Jagi Lamplighter

L. Jagi Lamplighter is the author of the YA fantasy series: The Books of Unexpected Enlightenment, the third book of which was nominated for the YA Dragon Award in 2017 and the fourth book of which won the first YA Ribbit Award. She is also the author of the Prospero’s Children series: Prospero LostProspero In Hell, and Prospero Regained

She has published numerous articles and short stories. She also has an anthology of her own works: In the Lamplight. She also edits for Superversive Press and teaches “The Art and Craft of Writing”. She was also a presenter and panel member for both the 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference and the 2021 New Beginnings Virtual Writing Conference.

Website: Welcome to Arhyalon: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/

And now for the Q & A.

Book Marketing

Mario Acevedo: Here are my thoughts on Book Marketing.

I never thought much about branding myself and wrote what I wanted. Fortunately, everything tended to be in related genres. As for book marketing, if I knew what the magic lever was that you could pull and hit the jackpot, I would keep it to myself. I’ve tried all kinds of methods and gimmicks, some which worked okay, others which never moved the needle. What works for someone else, might not work for you. What works now may not work tomorrow. Remember, those masters in branding and marketing, Disney and Coca-Cola, have their share of million-dollar flops. What I recommend is to keep your name out there in a variety of streams: social media, newsletters, conventions, interviews, podcasts.

Good book covers are essential. Whatever you do, don’t have one that looks Photoshopped by someone who didn’t know what they were doing.

Websites are necessary though really fancy ones (read expensive) are not worth the money unless you have a lot of traffic and sales. You want something catchy and one that you update regularly.

Everyone loves great reviews and people who leave one-star reviews tend to be acting out an agenda not related to your work. Don’t hate them for it, instead pray that they either find Jesus or a competent therapist.

Once upon a time, book trailers were the cat’s pajamas. And about as effective. Two of my book trailers got tens of thousands of views, which is extraordinary for book trailers, but I can’t say how significant they were to sales. Book trailers work best when you play them at a signing booth as when people ask, “What’s your book about?”

Keep in mind that the world doesn’t revolve around you so don’t be a dick to others. Don’t be a doormat either; and in all cases, keep yourself a class act.

How do you brand yourself and your works?

Paul Kane: I think that changes depending on what book it is. So the Paul Kane ‘brand’ – whatever that is – would be more tied into horror, post-apocalyptic fiction or whatever, so I might get invited to a horror convention to talk about that material. While the PL Kane ‘band’ is pure crime fiction, and you’re more likely to see me talking about that at a crime fiction event. But it’s all still just me, when all’s said and done. I try not to cross the streams if I can help it, and I haven’t really ‘branded’ myself as much as the publishers who’ve put my stuff out there have done it for me.

Bobby Nash: Bobby Nash is my brand. I am usually the first point of contact with readers, so I want to make sure meeting me makes you want to read one of my books. I also brand the books. My BEN Books crime thrillers share a universe, so they have similar branding. It helps. I also use branding on title and cover design in series. You know that the Snow books are part of a series, for example.

Robbie Cheadle: My children’s books are primarily a series about a little man called Sir Chocolate who lives in a world where you can eat everything. Each book contains a rhyming verse story for small children and 5 recipes for children to make under adult supervision. It is in essence a first baking book series and I market it that way.

My adult books are all historical and paranormal in nature and I am at this market. I use hashtags for my books on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I write under my own name, using different variations to clearly separate my children’s and my adults’ books.

Nancy Oswald: I haven’t paid much attention to branding, but I think a brand is evolving based solely on my writing interests. With that said, the next book I want to write doesn’t fit the historical category, but I don’t want “branding” to stop me from doing it. I guess I’d prefer to write what my interests are than to worry about a brand.

What’s the most effective method of finding followers?

Paul Kane: I have no idea! I just keep doing the writing, promoting it on my social media accounts and seeing what happens. I think using humour on those is a good way to spread the word about yourself, and posting about other people’s work or what you might be reading, watching and so on, breaks up the sameness of just talking about yourself and what you’ve got out or coming out. I think genuineness comes across massively to people and maybe that gets you followers? I’ve only ever been myself online or at events, and I think people can see that. They can spot it a mile away if you’re fake.

Bobby Nash: Beats me. It seems to change from week to week. I try as many methods as possible to attract new readers.

Robbie Cheadle: A lot of my readers have come through my blog. I have two blogs: Robbie’s Inspiration which is for my baking, art work, and poetry, and Roberta Writes which is for my reviews of classic, horror, drama, science fiction, and other adult books. I also do a weekly prompt called Thursday Doors when I share pictures of my travels around South African and other places. I am an active blogger and have a lot of blogging friends who I have discussions with. Many of them have become friends who I email and correspond with.

Other social media I use are Facebook which is great for reading and writing groups, Twitter, and Instagram. I have a YouTube channel which I post to from time to time. I think being an active part of the writing and reading community is the best way of getting followers. Writers are also often reviewers while other readers usually don’t think to write reviews.

I understand that newsletters are a good way of staying in contact with your readership outside of social media. I have not as yet had the time to pursue developing a newsletter following or committing to a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter.

Have giveaways or social media book events been effective in bringing in followers?

Paul Kane: Publishers tend to handle all that side of things for me, so I can’t really say. You do see a spike in numbers when you do a giveaway I guess, or do a blog tour, so I guess they work. But if people don’t like your stuff, they won’t keep coming back no matter what you do. Keeping readers or followers is just as important as attracting them in the first place.

Bobby Nash: Short term, yes. Long term, not really. Some sign up for the giveaway then leave when it’s over. I do have a small fanbase and I try to grow it.

Robbie Cheadle: I do giveaways when I do book tours for the launch of new books. Living in South Africa, which is not a country of big readers due to the excellent weather, I market mainly to Australia, the UK, and the US and rely on social media to get the word out.

Giveaways certainly help bring in some reviews although not every free book has the desired outcome, enough winners do read and review the book to make giveaways a useful undertaking.

Social media events are generally not that well attended, in my limited experience, so I don’t think I pick up many followers that way. I am an opportunist though and will usually grab an opportunity for promotion even if a return is not guaranteed. I enjoy sharing about my books and the anthologies I’ve participated in.

Can you share your logo and the story of why you chose this to represent your brand?

Paul Kane: I don’t really have a logo as such. My main site is called Shadow Writer, after a story I wrote back in the late 1990s, and I chose that because it fits the kind of dark fiction I do as Paul Kane.

Bobby Nash: BEN Books is the name of my indie press. The name is simple. BEN is my initials. Bobby Edward Nash. I designed a simple design with a book and scratched metal half-moon coming out behind it to signify book pages flipping. I liked it. Years later, my friend, Jeffrey Hayes redesigned it for me and made the BEN Books logo look much more professional. I also use branding by putting genre under the logo. A BEN Books Thriller. BEN Books Pulp. That sort of thing. Now that crime thrillers is BEN Books’ main focus, I added a criminal’s mask to the logo. I like it.

Do you have a blog or website where you drive traffic? How effective do you feel it is?

Paul Kane: My SW site’s been going years and we’ve built up a good following on there. We get many unique visitors a month. One thing I did to help with that was to have a ‘Guest Writer’ slot; it was something I ‘borrowed’ from Simon Clark’s site. As with the social media posts, this stops things being just about me all the time, helps promote other people’s work that I like and also crosses over our readerships. People who are fans of their work might have a look around my site, while people who are fans of mine are reading whichever Guest Writer’s work is on there this month. It usually takes the form of a short story or extract from a novel. We’ve had some huge writers on there over the last couple of decades, including Stephen King, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child and Martina Cole.

Bobby Nash: I have a website for all things Bobby. It’s www.bobbynash.com and it has all of my books, art, acting, news, blogs, etc. It’s the hub for all things me.

www.ben-books.com is the home of BEN Books.

Abraham Snow has his own site. www.abrahamsnow.com has everything you need to know about the Snow series.

Lance Star: Sky Ranger also has a dedicated site. http://lancestar.blogspot.com

I like having dedicated websites. Websites are an easy to find way to keep up with things. Posts can easily get lost in the sea that is social media.

Do you have a blog or website where you drive traffic? How effective do you feel it is?

Robbie Cheadle: My blogs are my most effective marking tools, and my blogging friends often promote my work and posts by sharing them on other social media platforms and even on their own blogs. I also write posts for other bloggers sites, including 3 monthly columns for Writing to be Read. I always take opportunities to guest post and try to write engaging posts. I have enlarged by readership of both my books and my blog this way.

Can readers buy directly from you on your website, or must they go through third party venders such as Amazon, B&N, etc…?

Paul Kane: Through a third party. I don’t sell books through my site; as I say I’m not really a bookseller myself. The only thing I do sell on there is remarques, which are unique drawings I do inside the books sometimes for readers. I did a lot of those when Servants of Hell came out, drawing black & white pics inside the books of Sherlock Holmes and my Cenobite creations.

Bobby Nash: In addition to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., I have an on-line store where readers can buy autographed books, art commissions, book box sets, etc. It’s located at https://bobbynash.square.site. Please check it out.

Robbie Cheadle: Readers can buy the majority of my books from TSL Publications in the UK. Anne sends my books to readers in Australia, Europe, and the USA. My books are also available as ebooks from Lulu.com and as print books from Amazon and Lulu.com. Only select books of mine are available as ebooks from Amazon. My poetry books are available from Amazon and other outlets as well as the ten anthologies I have participated in.

Nancy Oswald: Website, Amazon

How do you get reviews for your books?

Paul Kane: Usually the book is sent out via the publisher, or it appears on NetGalley, although I have been known to contact bloggers directly if it’s to set up a blog tour. Most people are quite friendly and open to being approached, though you do get the odd one or two who don’t care for it.

Bobby Nash: Not easily. I sometimes beg on social media, but that rarely works. Most of the time, you just hope for the best.

Robbie Cheadle: I have been fortunate and some of the purchasers of my books have written and posted reviews to Goodreads and Amazon. Some readers can’t post to Amazon because of their reviewing policies, but I am happy to receive reviews on Goodreads and also on TSL Publications’ website.

What are your thoughts on paid reviews? Have you ever used them?

Paul Kane: No, never. And never will. I think if you’re paying to have your book reviewed it kind of defeats the object of it being an objective review of your work. You’re paying for a service, rather than offering the book to reviewers for their honest opinion – good or bad – of it.

Bobby Nash: I do not like paid reviews. I do not use them. How can I trust them?

Robbie Cheadle: I have never paid anyone to review one of my books. I do include a paragraph at the end of my books asking readers to leave a review and share their opinion. I have had readers approach me on Twitter and Goodreads offering to review my books for a fee, but I haven’t accepted any such proposals as it is disingenuous.

Nancy Oswald: Yes, a couple of times. I don’t think they drive more sales, but there are times when a good quote or two is needed for publicity materials and they come in handy.

Different book formats appeal to different audiences. How do you market differently for the different formats your books are available in?

Paul Kane: I’m not quite sure what you mean here, do you mean do I market audios differently to print or whatever? I suppose you have to look at what prices are being charged for the product and that affects how your promote it, for example ebooks are quite cheap so you’re reaching a different kind of reader to the ones who buy a limited hardback because they want something special as a keepsake or to increase in value. Again, that’s more in the realms of bookselling than what I do. 

Bobby Nash: When looking for places to market, I research. As a small press publisher, I try to make my BEN Books titles as easy to find in as many different formats as possible so readers can get the books in the way that works best for them.

Do you prefer online advertising or face-to-face events for marketing your books? Why?

Paul Kane: I think there’s a place for both, and if the pandemic has shown us anything it’s that we can also do events via Zoom and reach audiences that way. So sometimes it’s the only way you can reach people, because face-to-face is out. For me, personally, though I prefer getting out there and meeting readers who’ve enjoyed your fiction and signing copies of books for them. There’s no feeling like that in the world.

Bobby Nash: Both work, but I have found that I have better success with face-to-face events in terms of introducing my work to new readers.

Robbie Cheadle: I enjoy face-to-face events, but I haven’t found them to be particularly useful for books sales locally in South Africa. South Africans are not big readers as they prefer sports and outdoors activities, and our weather is good all year round which facilitates an outdoors lifestyle. In addition, there are 11 official languages in South Africa and the English-speaking community is a minority.

As a result, I mainly market my books through on-line advertising and marketing events and initiatives. I believe the face-to-face marketing is better if the environment is conducive to readers and I would do more in that line if I lived in the UK or USA.

Nancy Oswald: Face to face by far. It’s where I seem to sell more books, but it might be because I haven’t taken advantage of online marketing opportunists. I’m trying a few, now, but the jury’s out.

Do you use paid advertising or stick to the free channels? How effective have they been?

Paul Kane: I always stick to free. If it’s a paid advert, then it’s been paid for by my publishers – for instance I know there was a fair amount of promotion online on Facebook or Instagram for the PL Kane books, but that was down to HQ/Harper rather than myself.

Bobby Nash: I have a low budget, so I used paid advertising sporadically, but targeted. I try to take advantage of free promotion channels as often as possible.

Robbie Cheadle: I have run paid advertisements on Facebook, but I’ve not had a lot of success with them. I haven’t tried any other paid avenues for book sales.

Which book advertising platforms have you used: Bookbub, Fussy Librarian, Booktopia, Facebook, Amazon, etc…? Which have you found to be most effective?

Paul Kane: I’m on Bookbub, mainly because one of my publishers told me I needed to be on it to promote a specific book. And I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on. I think they all have their place and if I push a book through one, I tend to do it via all of them, so there’s no real way for me to see which one is working for the best. I just promote through them all.

Bobby Nash: I’ve used Facebook, Amazon, BookBub, and a couple of others. Effectiveness varies.

Do you have a newsletter? How effective do you feel it is?

Paul Kane: I do have a PL Kane newsletter, which has helped me reach more readers. It’s a place where I can share more of my news on a personal level, plus offer recommendations for things I’ve enjoyed reading or watching. To entice people in, I also write new fiction that’s exclusive to the newsletter so I feel like it works both ways. Readers are getting something out of it as well as me.

Bobby Nash: I do have a monthly newsletter. You can subscribe to Nash News at http://www.subscribepage.com/NashNews. I have about 230 subscribers. I don’t get a lot of feedback so I can’t say for certain how effective it is or how many sales result from the newsletter.

Do you use book trailers to market your books? How effective have they been for you?

Paul Kane: I haven’t personally used them, but some of my publishers have and obviously I’ve shared the trailers as and when. There was a great one for The Rainbow Man, which was my first YA novel, and I got a friend of mine Brad Watson to come up with one for Arrowhead when that came out. But generally speaking, I have no idea how much of an impact they have on sales or anything.

Robbie Cheadle: I have tried book trailers to market my books, but I don’t believe they have been at all effective. I don’t think many people bother to watch the video, even if it is short. I can tell from the average viewing time of the video that few people have watched until the end.

Have you ever tried using press releases for your books? How effective has that been for you?

Bobby Nash: I write press releases for all of my books, even if I am not the publisher. I want to get the information about the book out to the word, as well as how to contact me in case of interviews, quotes, etc.

Nancy Oswald: I typically get a press release out to all the local papers. Hard to relate to sales, but they’re free and add to reader recognition.

Do you have a street team or reader group that you use to get reviews? How well does that work?

Bobby Nash: I don’t have an official street team. I have some fans and friends that share my news and I appreciate each and every repost, retweet, and shout out.

Robbie Cheadle: I have a few blogging friends who always offer to read and review my books and they always post reviews. It is kind of them, and I am grateful for the support. I never ask people to read and review my books as it goes against my upbringing to ask people to things like that for me. I had a very strict and conservative upbringing, and some things are very difficult for me as a result. I read and review over 100 books a year and I beta read books for certain individuals too. I always try to help other writers when I can.

Nancy Oswald: For many of my books, I’ve asked other authors with a track record to read and write cover blurb material. I’ve also swapped Amazon reviews with other authors. 

How do you handle marketing for multiple genres, since each one appeals to different audiences? Can a single brand encompass multiple genres or should they be marketed separately, with a different brand or pen name for each one?

Bobby Nash: I tailor my marketing based on the book’s genre. I don’t promote my crime thriller at the same sites where I promote my sci-fi epic. As an author, I only have the one brand. I don’t use pen names.

Robbie Cheadle: As mentioned previously, I market my children’s books and poetry separately from my horror, paranormal and historical adult fiction. I have two blogs, two Twitter accounts, to Facebook pages and I try to keep them as separate as possible. I have different followers on the two profiles and only a few follow me on both. That is what I was aiming for when I created the second profile. I wanted people who were interested in my children’s writing, art, and poetry to enjoy that aspect of my creativity without having to filter out my adult orientated interests and vice versa. I do believe it has worked quite well.

Do you use a pen name? Why or why not?

Paul Kane: I have a few, as you can probably guess from some of the other answers. I think it helps to differentiate between the kinds of fiction I write. So if you pick up a Paul Kane you’re likely to get horror, dark fantasy or the like, while PL Kane books are straight crime. Detectives or domestic noir. There can be some scope for crossover here, because I have fans of all my different kinds of books, and sometimes there are elements from my other work that slip over – The Family Lie is a crime book, but also deals with cults and has elements of folk horror too – but for the most part I try to keep things separate. It just makes it clearer for myself and my readership.

Robbie Cheadle: I do not use a pen name. I was going to because of my professional life, but my husband didn’t like the idea of my not using my married name. I publish my children’s books and poetry under Robbie Cheadle and my adult books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. The names are linked, but sufficiently different for people to be able to differentiate between them and the different genres of my books.

Nancy Oswald: I used a pen name for my very first published book, but when people started asking me how they would remember and find my book under a different name I gave it up. This book went into a reprint, so I switched mid-stream. It was published by Scholastic Canada, so in this case it made very little difference in sales.

Are your books available in brick-and-mortar stores and libraries? What are the challenges with having your books in these outlets?

Paul Kane: Yes, certainly. At the moment, the challenges seem to be down to distribution, all the knock-on effects of Brexit and such, but I’m hoping that calms down in the future. I know some stores and libraries have had shortages lately because of all this. Luckily, I think most of my publishers are doing okay on that score. There always seem to be plenty of copies available to ship out to stores at any rate, which I’m very grateful for.

Bobby Nash: My books are available to them, though they are rarely shelved there due to the print on demand nature of my small press. You can order them in any brick-and-mortar store, but it’s doubtful they will be on the store shelves. Some libraries have stocked my books though.

Nancy Oswald: Libraries, I usually donate copies.  Brick and mortar is a lot of leg work and there’s a difference in percentages and how you get paid—a lot of record keeping. But I do get sales through these outlets, so it’s worth it, and they collect tax which saves another headache or two. I like craft fairs for face-to-face sales, but I’m choosy about where I go.

Covers are important. They can be one of your best marketing tools. How do you come by your covers: DIY, hire professional cover designer, buy pre-fab covers?

Paul Kane: That’s all handled in-house by the publisher. An indie might ask me if I have a preferred artist, or I might say to them I like a particular image that fits the contents of the book – like Les Edwards’ painting for my Body Horror collection Traumas from Black Shuck Books – but more often than not I might not get a vote at all, especially if it’s a bigger publisher. I have to say I’ve been very lucky with them, though. There’s never been one I’ve absolutely hated in my entire career, and I hope there never will be. There have been some that have grown on me over time, but all in all I’ve been very happy.

Bobby Nash: I prefer to work with professionals because they know what they are doing and do it far better than I can. I do some design work, but not all covers are created equal. Evil Ways, Suicide Bomb, and the upcoming Evil Intent had a simple, design element. I handled those myself. Deadly Games! has a photo cover. I took the photo and designed the cover. The Snow and Sheriff Myers series have covers by Jeffrey Hayes and Dennis Calero. I’ve not used any pre-fab covers. I prefer to have the cover designed to fit the story.

Robbie Cheadle: I design the covers for my children’s books myself because I use my own fondant and cake artwork. I tried using a professional photographer, but that didn’t work that well for me, so I invested in a better camera and I take my own pictures.

I use a professional designer for my adult books. Tim Barber of Dissect Designs designed the covers of While the Bombs Fell, Through the Nethergate and A Ghost and His Gold. Teagan Riordain Geneviene has designed some of my newer covers. I worked well with both designers and am always very happy with my covers.

Nancy Oswald: I’ve been spoiled by my publisher who used an artist for most of my books. I hired the same artist for my latest book that I self-published to stay consistent with the covers in the rest of the series. I know it cost me more money to do this, but felt it was worth it.

Which marketing strategies do you use: rapid release, perma-free, reader magnets,.99 cent promos, etc…? Which have you found to be most effective?

Bobby Nash: Yes. I try everything. Some things work. Some don’t. I don’t know until I try. Plus, I’ve discovered that an effective method for one book might not prove effective for another. It’s an on-going, evolving experiment.

Nancy Oswald: I used to do postcards, but they were expensive, and to mail them was expensive. A few years ago, I switched to bookmarks only—two sided with general info about me on one side (contact info, bio, etch) and images of all my books on the back side. My newest bookmark only has the Ruby and Maude Adventure images with a list of my other books.  (Space consideration.)

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That was a great final Q & A session, with so much information. Of course, book marketing is a topic that could fill an entire book and then some. But that wraps up this week’s segment – and it wraps up this Saturday series.

Thanks to all of the contributing authors for their willingness to share their writing wisdom with us in both blog and book. They are who made this wonderful reference possible. I couldn’t have done it without them.

Thanks to all our readers for joining us. I do hope you readers gleaned some useful advice in this series, and if you missed any of the segments, you can find them all here:

Segment 1: Introductions for Kaye Lynne Booth & Kevin Killiany/Writing Life Q & A session.

Segment 2: Introduction for Bobby Nash/Pre-writing Rituals Q & A session.

Segment 3: Introduction for Roberta Eaton Cheadle/Plot & Storyline Q & A session.

Segment 4: Introduction for Paul Kane/Character Development Q & A session.

Segment 5: Introduction for Mario Acevedo/Action, Pacing and Dialog Q & A session.

Segment 6: Introduction for Nancy Oswald/Tone: Voice, Person, Tense & POV Q & A session.

Segment 7: Introduction for Chris Barili/ Setting & World Building Q & A session.

Segment 8: Introduction for Jeff Bowles/Editing & Revision Q & A session.

Segment 9: Introduction for Mark Leslie Lefebvre/Publishing Q & A session.

Segment 10: Oh, wait… This is Segment 10.

Well then, I guess that’s about it for this segment… And for the series. Again I thank you for sticking with us through all ten weeks.

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Where can you find publishing industry experts willing to share their secrets? 

Ask the Authors 2022 is the ultimate writer’s reference, with tips and advice on craft, publishing and book marketing. Eleven experienced and successful authors share what works for them and offer their keys to success in traditional publishing, hybrid, and indie. You’ll learn industry wisdom from Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Kevin Killiany, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Bobby Nash, Paul Kane, Nancy Oswald, Chris Barili, Jeff Bowles, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Mario Acevedo and Kaye Lynne Booth.

This book offers tried-and-true ways to improve your craft and explores the many options in the current publishing and book marketing worlds. Take a peek inside and find out what works for you.

Ask the Authors 2023

“Ask the Authors is an up-to-date and broad-based compendium of advice from today’s working writers, to help you with understanding your own writing career. Great information!”

—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Spine of the Dragon

The special promotional price of 3.99 is good through today, since this is the last blog segment in the series. Tomorrow, it goes back up to the regular price of 4.99. If you’ve been following, you may have already gotten a copy of Ask the Authors 2022. If not, be sure and grab your copy today.

Available from your favorite book distributor through the Books2Read UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LnK8e

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Review in Practice: Self-Publish Strong Books 1-4

Let me just start by saying that I’m a big fan of Andrea Pearson, the author of these books. I listened to her on the Six Figure Authors podcast, along with her two co-hosts, Lindsay Barker and Joe Lallo, all through the fall and spring semesters. So, when I found out we were going to be using Rock Solid Newsletter in our class, I jumped at the opportunity to buy the whole set, even though I only needed the one book for class. Which is just to say, that I knew these books would have lots of valuable information for me as an author before I ever cracked them open, and indeed they did.

In Book 1, Rock Solid Book, Andrea offers tips for making sure you have a book that readers will want to read. Book 2, Rock Solid Platform, gives advice on finding and acquiring fans who will read just about anything you write. Book 3, Rock Solid Promotion, discusses book marketing, protons and deals that sell. And finally, in Book 4, Rock Solid Newsletter, she tells how to set up your newsletter and automation sequence and clean your newsletter email list, so you know you have true fans who want to hear about you and your books, which increases your open and click rates and is more effective at selling books.

Self-Publish Strong Books 1-4 is filled with valuable information for independent authors, which I’m using to improve and grow my newsletter list, which is soon to become my readers’ group, and set up promotions for all of my 2022 releases. Andrea Pearson offers tips, advice and good strategies for producing a quality book which readers will buy, getting the word out about your books and finding readers who will buy them.

What she doesn’t do in Rock Solid Newsletter, is to instruct on the technical set-up of the newsletter, because each newsletter platform is different. I don’t hold that against the book though, as these books are not instruction manuals, but instead, they offer strategies to leverage your books into a better selling position. I managed to change my reader magnet and my welcome email so it will be delivered as intended. (I think,. I still need to test it.) And that’s where I’m stuck, because I don’t understand the technicalities of setting up an automation sequence, but I know I need to set one up. I may have to find someone to help me on that one. So, although I haven’t put all of the advice offered in Publish Strong Books 1-4 to use yet, I’m well on my way.

You can get your copy of Self-Publish Strong Books 1-4 here:

https://www.amazon.com/Self-Publish-Strong-Books-1-4-How-ebook/dp/B06X3W91BV

Or they can be purchased individually here: http://selfpublishstrong.com/books/

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Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing and a M.A. in Publishing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you.

She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”); and Where Spirits Linger (“The People Upstairs”). Her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, and her short story collection, Last Call, are both available in both digital and print editions at most of your favorite book distributors.

When not writing, she keeps up her author’s blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. In addition to creating her own imprint in WordCrafter Press, she offers quality author services, such as editing, social media & book promotion, and online writing courses through WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services. As well as serving as judge for the Western Writers of America and sitting on the editorial team for Western State Colorado University and WordFire Press for the Gilded Glass anthology and editing Weird Tales: The Best of the Early Years 1926-27, under Jonathan Maberry.

In her spare time, she is bird watching, or hiking, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.

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Sign up for the Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for and book event news for WordCrafter Press books, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of Kaye Lynne Booth’s paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, just for subscribing.


Ask the Authors 2022 is here!

Ask the Authors 2022

That’s right. The writing reference you’ve all been waiting for has arrived. Ten talented authors and industry experts have gathered together with me to share their writing tips and advice in essay and Q&A, creating a writing reference anthology like no other.

Where can you find publishing industry experts willing to share their secrets? 

Ask the Authors 2022 is the ultimate writer’s reference, with tips and advice on craft, publishing and marketing. Eleven experienced and successful authors share what works for them and offer their keys to success in traditional publishing, hybrid, and indie. You’ll learn industry wisdom from Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Kevin Killiany, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Bobby Nash, Paul Kane, Nancy Oswald, Chris Barili, Jeff Bowles, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Mario Acevedo and Kaye Lynne Booth.

This book offers up-to-date and tried-and-true ways to improve your craft, explores current publishing and book marketing worlds. Take a peek inside and find out what works for you.

Praise for Ask the Authors 2022

“Ask the Authors is an up-to-date and broad-based compendium of advice from today’s working writers, to help you with understanding your own writing career. Great information!”
—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Spine of the Dragon

Ask the Authors 2022

Ask the Authors 2022 is available in both digital and print. You can get your copy from your favorite book retailer through the Books2Read universal book link (UBL) here: https://books2read.com/u/3LnK8e

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Sign up for the Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Newsletter for and book event news for WordCrafter Press books, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of Kaye Lynne Booth’s paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, just for subscribing.


Invitation: Multi-genre Newsletter Swap Group

I do things the hard way.

Always have. I can’t seem to help it. I follow my heart instead of my head. But, once I chose a path, I am determined and stick to it. And when it comes to authoring, I bypass the easy path and stick to the rougher roads, learning as I go.

For my first novel, I chose the western genre, which isn’t exactly the fast lane to bestseller-dom. I publish poetry and anthologies. Most folks in the publishing industry will tell you these are much harder to sell than novels. And I’m a multi-genre author, who writes one-offs instead of series. Again, harder to sell, harder to build a fan base, because readers of my westerns probably won’t be interested in my paranormal stuff, or my short fiction collection, which has time travel, vampire, satire and origin stories all wrapped up between the covers.

If you have been following this blog and reading my posts, or if you subscribe to my newsletter, you may know that in the coming year my planned releases include the poetry anthology we just released, a nonfiction writing reference anthology, two science fiction/fantasy/horror/paranormal anthologies, and a fantasy fairytale anthology, and the re-release of my original western novel as a series starter. And yeah. That’s a lot. And no, not one of them will be an easy sell.

So why don’t I chose an easier path?

Well, for one thing, I enjoy working with other authors and compiling, editing and publishing poetry and short fiction anthologies allow me to do that. Also, I do it because I love a challenge. I find ways around or create solutions to help me through them, determined to make it all work even though it may be a rougher road. In fact, I’m trying to create a solution to the multi-genre author promotion thing right now.

But I think most of all, I have to write the stories that my heart wants me to tell. I’ve never tried writing to market. I like to write stories which excite me, and I’m not sure that a story written to fit into a certain genre or category would do that. And while some multi-genre authors stick to genres which are similar or sub-genres, I do things the hard way, so my genres span across the literary expanse, making my reader audience more difficult to find.

Let me tell you, it’s not easy for multi-genre authors to find and engage with all of their various audiences for the reason stated above. A reader may love your fantasy novel, but they may not care a bit about reading or learning more about your new steampunk novel. I hear there are super fans out there who fall in love with the author and will read anything they write, but as for me, I haven’t found any yet. And I’m betting that’s true for many multi-genre authors. It can be a real puzzler, figuring out ways to extend your reach in all of the genres that you write in, but I may have come up with one way to make that happen.

Cross-promotion.

More authors add up to extended reach, so I’m proposing that we create a newsletter swap group, comprised of multi-genre authors and all cross-promote each other’s books in our newsletters. We can all share new releases, and since we won’t all be releasing at once. Since all swap group members will be multi-genre authors, our audiences will already expect to hear about a variety of books and genres, so we’ll have a better chance of reaching readers who will buy our books. Every group members reach will be extended by the reach of all participating authors, and we will all have something else to say in our newsletters besides “Buy my book!” And best of all- it’s free promotion

Join us in uniting our promotion efforts for more followers and higher book sales.

I know a couple of authors who are already interested in taking advantage of this cross-promotion opportunity. If you are a multi-genre author who puts out an email newsletter at least monthly and wants to extend your reach for your books, I want to hear from you! Contact me at kayebooth@yahoo.com and put “Newsletter Swap” in the subject line. Tell me you’d like to participate, which genres you write in and tell me about any releases you have scheduled. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you.

She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); and Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”). Her western, Delilah, her paranormal mystery novella and her short story collection, Last Call, are all available in both digital and print editions.

In her spare time, she keeps up her author’s blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. She’s also the founder of WordCrafter. In addition to creating her own imprint in WordCrafter Press, she offers quality author services, such as editing, social media & book promotion, and online writing courses through WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services. When not writing or editing, she is bird watching, or hiking, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.

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Sign up for the Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Newsletter for and book event news for WordCrafter Press books, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of Kaye Lynne Booth’s paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, just for subscribing.


Writer’s Corner – Five Podcasts Serious Indie Authors Won’t Want to Miss

In my publishing courses at Western State Colorado University, my instructors and mentors, Kevin J. Anderson and Allyson Longuiera have introduced us to several useful podcasts for independent authors and/or publishers and I’d like to share them with you here.

Writing Excuses : https://writingexcuses.com/2021/03/07/16-10-paying-it-forward-with-kevin-j-anderson/

Hosts Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Peng Shepard, and Howard Taylor offer up tips and writing advice, mainly on craft. This podcast provides short sessions, they claim 15 minutes, but the session for the link above is closer to 30. It’s an interview with Kevin J. Anderson about paying it forward, and it’s really good, so I tought you all might enjoy it. Kevin started out with traditional publishing way back when, but has now established his own independent press in WordFire Press, so he speaks to both sides of the industry, and this interview is proof that whether published traditionally or independently, authors are a good bunch. I’m proud to be counted amoung this tribe.

But the episodes really are brief, so take a little time and explore the site. They have many interesting topics of value to authors at all stages of their career. Here’s the main page link: https://writingexcuses.com/

Six Figure Authors: https://6figureauthors.com/

With hosts Lindsay Baroker, Joe Lallo and Andrea Pearson, this podcast offers publishing and marketing tips, more than craft advice, but as six figure authors, they are crushing it and they are willing to share their advice with their listeners. I enjoy binging back episodes on my lengthy commute to and from my day job. They have a Facebook group which listeners can join, where they can pose questions to the hosts or their guests to be answered on the podcast. Lots of valuable information for authors here, whether just starting out or if you’ve been at it for a while.

The Creative Penn: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/podcasts/

I love this podcast! Host Joanna Penn (with a double N), is an author/enterprenuer and a futurist. Her podcast is filled with interviews and discussion about industry trends and where things might be headed. She’s got a killer accent which makes her fun to listen to, too.

The Self Publishing Formula: https://selfpublishingformula.com/spf-podcast/

Host Mark Dawson is a best selling independent author provides interviews and master classes on self-publishing. He and his co-host, James Blatch both have accents that are heavier and more difficult for me to understand, but they do offer up some valuable information on the independent publishing world.

Quick and Dirty Tips: https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl

This is every writers go-to podcast for all of your grammer questions, with Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, who discusses proper grammar and common grammar mistakes. A quick reference for all grammar questions you are unsure of during writing and editing processes.

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Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribing to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


Review in Practice: “Mastering Amazon Descriptions” & “How to Write Fiction Sales Copy”

Mastering Amazon Descriptions

It’s not enough to just write the book.

Today’s author must be both writer and marketer. Authors in the the world of digital media and the rise of independent publishing are responsible for not only writing the book, but selling it, too. Even authors who are traditionally published are often responsible for a good portion of the promotional efforts.

These days, everyone knows that people can and do judge books by their covers. Most authors emphasize the importance of a a good book cover in selling books, but they’re talking about more than just the image and text on the front. Perhaps as important as that front cover, is the book’s description or blurb, found on the back cover for print books, or in your ebook’s meta-data.

A good book description’s job is to capture reader interest and make them want to know more,. Whether we’re talking about the hook of the first line, which must make you read on to the next sentence and then the next, or about the description as a whole, which must hook the reader, making them want to buy the book to learn the rest of the story, the book description is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal to sell books. According to Brian D. Meeks, a good book description has three elements: a powerful hook, engaging copy, and visually appealing formatting.

Mastering Amazon Descriptions

In Mastering Amazon Descriptions, Brian D. Meeks offers a formulaic plan for writing book descriptions that will sell books, including examples of description re-writes for books in varied genres. Although these descriptions are specified as Amazon descriptions, I’m sure this technique will work equally well with Kobo, or Barnes & Nobel, or even the Apple Store. By the time you’ve read through this book, you’ll be writing back cover copy like a pro, because Meeks’ method is simple enough that almost anyone can do it.

To prove it, I’ll share with you the re-write I did of the description for Delilah, which I am preparing for its re-release in the coming year.

Here is the original description:

“Brutally raped and left for dead, her fourteen-year-old ward abducted, Delilah’s homecoming from prison quickly turns into a quest for vengeance. Tough and gritty, sheer will and determination take her to the Colorado mining town of Leadville in her hunt for her attackers and the girl, Sarah. Somehow along the way, the colorful inhabitants of Leadville work their way into Delilah’s heart, giving her a chance for a future she thought she’d lost along with her innocence.”

Here is the description I wrote for the re-release before I read Mastering Amazon Descriptions:

Delilah is a woman haunted by her past. Her homecoming from prison quickly turns into a quest for vengeance when she is brutally raped and left for dead, and her fourteen-year-old ward is abducted. Sheer will and determination take this tough and gritty heroine up against wild beasts of the forest, Indians and outlaws to the Colorado mining town of Leadville, where the colorful inhabitants work their way into Delilah’s heart, offering a chance for a future she thought she’d lost along with her innocence.

Now, here is the description I wrote using Brian D. Meeks’ method:

Haunted by her past.

Raped and left for dead; her fourteen-year-old ward abducted.

Sheer will and determination take this tough and gritty heroine up against wild beasts of the forest, Indians and outlaws.

Can the colorful inhabitants of Leadville work their way into Delilah’s heart, offering a chance for a future she thought she’d lost along with her innocence?

I don’t think anyone would argue that this last description is an improvement. It has a better hook, shorter sentences, and leaves the potential reader with a question to make them want to learn more and read the book.

How to Write Fiction Sales Copy

How to Write Fictin Sales Copy, by Dean Wesley Smith offers three different formulas for writing back cover blurbs and sales copy, which are aimed toward a wide distribution, and several different approaches. Smith is an old pro in this writing game and he’s good at what he does, (which is write). While his methods are not as formulaic and are not specific to Amazon, they are never-the-less effective in posing unspoken questions about the book and making readers want to know more. Smith also offers 32 actual story blurbs as examples in multiple genres.

To experiment with one of Dean Wesley Smith’s techniques, I thought I’d try to rewrite the blurb for my paranormal mystery novella, which is riddled with what Smith calls “The Author Problem”, which results from too many passive verbs and too much focus on the plot. My description doesn’t have a lot of passive voice, but it does focus on the plot too much, revealing more than necessary, which is a common author error. The idea behind the blurb is to give potential readers just enough to pique their interest and make them want to purchase the book. If you reveal too much of the plot, there’s no reason to buy.

Cassie is nervous about her return to her ancestral lands with her boyfriend Tony for more reasons than one. She hasn’t been up in these mountains since the unexplained drowning of her parents. And her parents aren’t the only ones who have died or mysteriously disappeared in the area. Cassie doesn’t really believe the old legends passed down from her Native American ancestors, but she harbors no desire to become the keeper of her tribal legacy or the protector of the gold that goes with it. In fact, she plans to tell her Grandmother to pass the legacy to someone else, perhaps her cousin Miranda, who has been searching for the treasure for years. Cassie wants nothing to do with it now that she carries Tony’s baby in her womb. When Cassie forces herself to go out on the lake that took the lives of her parents and she discovers a cave which holds the treasure of her people, she must admit that the legacy is real, which means the curse that guards the treasure and threatens the males of her tribe must also be real. When Miranda’s boyfriend, Jake disappears on the lake, Cassie must find a way to stop the curse, before Tony becomes the next victim.

So here is my attempt at a rewrite, using Smith’s basic blurb pattern, beginning with a character summary that “nails the genre if possible”.

Cassie wants nothing to do with the legacy her grandmother wants to hand down to her. She doesn’t believe in all those Native American legends anyway.

She and Tony plan to be married and start a family. They’re only returning to her ancestral lands now to tell her grandmother to pass the tribal legacy on to someone else, along with the cursed gold that goes with it.

When she forces herself to go out on the lake where her parents drowned, she discovers the cave which holds the tribal treasure and the lake takes another life. Now Cassie must rethink all that she believes. If the treasure is real, could the curse be real, too?

Can Cassie find a way to stop it before Tony becomes the next victim?

If you love paranormal mysteries, pick up a copy of “Hidden Secrets”.

Which one of these descriptions would make you more likely to buy the book? You can see what a difference a few simple changes can make.

Authors must be able to write sales copy, as well as fiction or nonfiction, because stories don’t sell themselves. On The 6 Figure Authors podcast suggest that if a book isn’t selling well, the first things to look at are cover art and blurb. We see here with the examples I provided, what a difference changing up the blurb can make. I recommend both Mastering Amazon Descriptions, and How to Write Fiction Sales Copy to any author who wants to polish their blurb writing skills and improve their sales copy.


Writer’s Corner: Lessons for submitting to short fiction markets

Writer’s Corner

Short fiction doesn’t sell well. – That’s what I keep hearing. Anthologies are hard sells. So why would you even write short fiction, if it is so difficult to sell?

What many authors need to realize, is that while an anthology may be harder to sell than a novel, when you have work featured in an anthology, it is a project involving many authors, each with their own following which they bring to the table, creating a much bigger marketing network than you would have for a novel. Being a part of an anthology expands your marketing reach exponentially by the number of authors involved, which could actually make the marketing and promotion of the anthology easier and allow marketing to a much larger audience.

For the past few months I’ve been exploring short fiction and short fiction markets from the other side of things, as I worked to compile two separate anthologies. My solo project for my masters in publishing is The Best of Weird Tales 1926-27, which meant reading twenty-four issues of Weird Tales and selecting what I felt were the best stories to represent the publication, then compiling them into a single collection. It had to be a careful selection process, because much of what was socially acceptable in 1926 & 27, is far from acceptable in 2021.

The other project required for my degree involves being on the editorial team for the Mirror, Mirror anthology. You may have seen the call for submissions posted here on writing to be Read back in July. And there’s a chance that you even submitted to it, since we had over 600 submissions. That’s a lot of short stories to read. But I learned some valuable lessons from the experience:

  • It pays to get your submission in early. The early submissions get fresh eyes and open mind. But those submitted closer to the deadline, are seen by eyes that are tired by minds that have read so-o-o many stories, many of which are similar in theme or concept, if you wrote to the submission guidelines.
  • Follow the submission guidelines. This experience drove home to me how important this one really is. Going into this, my instructor and mentor, Kevin J. Anderson drilled in the importance of following the submission guidelines and took great care to make them clear in the call for submissions. It called for proper manuscript formatting, something every author should be familiar with, but just in case, he also included a link to a site that defined and explained what proper manuscript formatting is, and still we got manuscripts that were not formatted properly. Toward the end, I know improperly formatted manuscripts got set aside without a full read, because it hurt my tired old eyes too much, so this is really an important one, but many authors just didn’t get it. Publishers don’t want to work with authors who cannot follow simple instructions and format their manuscript properly or follow the guidelines, because this hints that they might be a pain to work with.
  • Only submit a story that fits what the call is looking for. I was surprised how many stories we got that didn’t have a mirror in them at all; not even a compact for the character to check their make-up. Who sends a story without mirrors to an anthology titled Mirror, Mirror that requests a mirror be central to the story. I’m told that last year someone submitted Christmas cards for the call for submissions for Unmasked, last year’s anthology, which may evoke a chuckle when you hear it, but for editors overwhelmed with submissions, reading through a story that doesn’t even come close to meeting the guidelines or match the theme, it feels like a big waste of time. Editors have feelings, too. Be kind and only submit stories that meet the theme and guidelines, instead of trying to cram your story into a frame that doesn’t really match.
  • In today’s market, busy editors are looking for something that is close to being publishable as is, so be sure your manuscript is polished. I feel like I shouldn’t have to state this one, but with as many seemingly unedited submissions, I guess it needs to be said. I was expecting it toward the end, when authors were rushing to meet the deadline, but even early on there were manuscripts that were riddled with misspellings and typos. Many of these may have been good stories, some even written to guidelines, but they were passed by because they would have required too much editing to ready them for publication. It would have required more time than my class of student editors would be able to give. So, I strongly urge having another set of eyes give a critical look over all stories prior to submission. Turning in a clean manuscript will strengthen the chances of your submission being accepted, or at least read clear through for a fair evaluation.
  • Choosing favorites is much harder than I thought it would be. We were cautioned that last year’s anthology received over 500 submissions, with more than 100 received in the last week of submissions. Mirror, Mirror received over 600 and so many of them were truly excellent stories that choosing the few that we had the budget for was really difficult, especially since not everyone had the same favorites. In the end, we ended up with a heck of a selection of stories for this anthology. I think it will be great!

Although all of my personal favorites couldn’t be included, I did find a way to make 2022 a great year for anthologies at WordCrafter Press, with two by invitation only anthologies in addition to the annual short fiction contest and anthology. I gave you a sneak preview for the submission call for the annual anthology, which will be titled Visions, here. The official call for submissions will be posted in January, so stay tuned.

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Halloween Special: 3 Days Only

Covid 19 brought changes to the way we do many things, including how we celebrate Halloween. Many folks may not be comfortable being exposed to children in costume coming to their door. Many parents may not be comfortable letting their children go door-to-door this year. I know of neighborhood residents who have gotten together to allow trick-or-treating only within a close-knit group, where everyone knows everyone else and they are all vacinated, and I’ve seen more haunted houses this year than ever before.

One thing that hasn’t changed though, is the love of a good ghost story or two on Halloween night. That’s why this weekend only, you can get a digital copy of Where Spirits Linger, this year’s WordCrafter paranormal anthology, to draw your ghost stories from. You’ll be captivated with the lingering spirits in these short stories, including the winning story from the 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest, “Olde-Tyme Village”, by Christa Planko. Work from other authors which is also included in this short fiction collection: Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s ghost with an agenda in “Listen to Instructions”, my own ghosts who want to care and be cared for in “The People Upstairs”, S.L. Kretsmer’s ghost who wants to be remembered in a positive light in “The Final Portrait”, Stevie Turner’s ghost who wants revenge in “David’s Revenge”, and you’re sure to get a chuckle from Enid Holden’s ghosts in “The Chosen Few”.

Don’t miss out on these great ghost stories this Halloween. Only .99 cents starting today through Halloween. Celebrate your Halloween Where Spirits Linger. Click the link below to have your digital copy delivered right to your reading device of choice.

Where Spirits Linger

https://books2read.com/u/mYGyNG

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