Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Debut- The Romance Marketplace Soapbox

I have decided to start a weekly blog (up on a soapbox) about certain little personal irritations I see within the publishing industry. Each week a new 'pet peeve' of mine or an incident that raises temperaments will be posted. Keep in mind some of the posts may offend authors and readers, but these are little moments that will affect all of you some time in the future, if not already in the past. This will be a sounding board for all to either agree, voice his or her personal opinions or just read and soak up the information.

No names will ever be given.
No 'finger-pointing'.
No spamming allowed.
No flaming.
Nothing but my personal opinion (please keep this in mind).

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other publishing person(s).

Monday, July 30, 2012

Promo Monday- Author Induced Loss of Sales

I hear this all the time from authors (especially when monthly royalty statements are sent out from their publishers)- "what can I do to make my sales increase?"... "My royalties weren't what I thought they would be, what can I do?"... and my favorite, "why do I even bother writing?".

Well, to the first two questions, my immediate response is this...

What have you done do far?
I can't tell you what you, the author, needs to do without knowing your past promoting and marketing plan, nor can I tell you how to increase your sales if you're not willing to listen and take a chance with the advice I will offer. You, the author, has to be committed to your career, be determined and patient as well as willing to understand sales do NOT happen overnight.

Sales of books like 50 Shades of Gray or Twilight are unusual, freakish and happen every blue moon to unsuspecting authors with a dream. This in itself should keep every author with a career dream rolling and persistent to succeed. Do you think E.L. James or Stephenie Meyer told potential readers and fans NOT to buy their books? Do you think either author discouraged a fellow author or fan that their writing genre wasn't for them? Well, this does happen- sad but true. So let's see how authors can subconsciously ruin a sale.

Offer a free read-
This was a topic of conversation recently between me and two other authors. What better way to let potential new fans get a taste of your writing style and characters. Even if it is only a 2-3k short read or prequel to another book, let readers peruse your writing. Giving an impending reader a glimpse of work can lead to sales of your published works.

You can offer the free read on your blog or website, or better yet for complete exposure- hit up Kindle Select (KDP). Offer your short read for five days every 90 days with a KDP contract. I did this for one of my self published books, and the first weekend I had the book up for 'free', I had over 2,000 downloads. The book (prequel to one of my already published books)  made it to Amazon's number 61 of the free read in that specific romance category and, in return, meant sales for my published book for the next few months. The published book had already been for sale for over one year and the sales were MORE than they had been when it was first released. So, for a 8k free read, I accumulated more sales and revenue for my other book. I also am hoping those who bought that book purchased more of my published works. I am thinking of this in a positive light because my other books' sales increased for a few weeks.

Think you know your readers-
Never, ever (I can NOT stress this enough) think you know readers' preference in genres to read. If you're writing style is as prolific as mine- which ranges from sweet romance all the way up to erotic romance with a little suspense thrown in for good measure, readers may enjoy the diversity of your writing abilities.

So, before you open your mouth and risk losing one sales (with probable sales on your other published books), hold your tongue and let the reader decide.

Loss of interaction- 
Readers and fans want to know you are human. They want to relate to you. So if you post promotional blurbs and buy links in forums, make sure to check in at those locations for replies. All it takes is a few seconds to log-in and check up on. By neglecting this simple task, a future fan may have asked for more information or a link, but when you don't respond, they will move on. Most readers want instant gratification and will proceed to the next prospective author if you delay or never answer.

Hop along the way-
One of the best ways to get new fans is to participate in a blog hop. It doesn't have to be a HUGE hop or tour either. One as simple as 20 authors is enough to get a few dozen new fans traipsing through your blog and website, reading your works. Of those few dozen participants, if you get ten sales, or even two more sales, how much effort did you really put into the hop/tour?
Think about it. You set up the blog (3 minutes), you post on social networks (as well as having the other authors do the same - 4 minutes) and you interact with the posters with a quick comment (1 minute each). So you have invested a minimum of eight minutes and perhaps that resulted in two new sales for one book. To continue on, those two sales expand into more sales because those two readers liked your work and went in search of other books by you. The authors sales domino effect has worked!

These are all simple tasks you can offer to readers without much 'grunt' work and time. So, before you get down about sales, remember these tips.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Promo Monday- Errors made in blurbs

Recently I have come across blurbs on websites, authors posting on social networks and on amazon that have left me scratching my head and asking "who would possibly buy this book? I don't understand it and I refuse to pay my hard-earned money for it." The blurbs tell part of the story premise and touch on the conflict or important twists necessary to sell the book.

Remember, the blurb is a main selling point of every novel. Order of sequence generally is-
Author name/reputation
First few pages

I have seen authors omit and/or add wording to a blurb that is not a good selling point, just as I have seen authors create a 1,000 word blurb naming every secondary character as well as the main H/H and every event in the book. *cringe* I just recently saw a blurb that had dialogue in it. Now, this is not taboo by any means, but dialogue has a place in a blurb but the way this author set it up, it confused me. The section of spoken words had nothing to do with the premise of the book. Almost like a filler- which I refer to as when you're filling empty space and prolonging the book. 

So, my questions today are... how much is too much and where do you draw the line when writing blurbs?

Key points- 

  • Do NOT paraphrase every moment-
By this, I mean, please do not just copy and paste sections of the book or a particular scene in the book just because you, the author, feel it was well written. Take the entire novel and simplify it. Break it down, hit the key events and points that are relevant to the premise and show what is inside the book. 

  • Use of dialogue-
Dialogue has a place in a blurb, when used in the correct way. But please make sure it is pertinent to what you are trying to show, say and sell. If the novel is about a love affair gone bad and a crumbling marriage, is it appropriate for the characters to say loving whispers to each other or carry on in a love scene? Maybe use dialogue showing a fight moment. Perhaps dialogue with one partner questioning the others motives. Keep the dialogue applicable to the blurb. 

  • Always add the conflict-
This is crucial in a blurb. Readers and potential buyers need to know the H/H may experience some difficulties in their relationship and on the way to a HEA ending. no romance, fiction or real life, is without issues, roadblocks and contradiction from an outside source- so show it in the blurb. 

When reading a book flap or blurb on amazon/publisher's website, I look for the twist that may keep the H./H apart, even if only for a few chapters. This adds to the readers' fantasy, delight and chance to root for the H/H's reunion. Add this to the blurb to show the reader that the book has it.