Friday, February 27, 2015

3 Truths 3 Weeks After Your Book Launch

Your first book has launched. Life feels sort of like a fishbowl now. You can't hide out in the coziness of your office in your pajamas dabbling over your next book. You are expected to do more than that now that your novel was finally published.

Have these 3 truths hit you yet?

1. NOT EVERYONE LOVES YOUR BOOK  Of course you knew that. You don't even love your book more than you do some of your favorite authors' books. Didn't you find that mistake on page 234? Why on earth did you write such a blah description of setting in the first chapter? You wrote this book five years ago. It took two years to come to publication. How can anyone love what you wrote?

Sound familiar? I knew my best friend would read my book. I also knew it isn't her genre. I also knew many of my friends would buy the book to support me and when I didn't hear back from them that they loved it, I knew they were being polite. I appreciate that. I do that to writers whose books don't thrill me as well. But many writers secretly wish for an avalanche of love for their work. Get over it. It rarely happens.

2. MARKETING STINKS  A long time ago, you were warned that writers had to do most of the legwork to get their book out there. When the time finally comes, you realize they were right. You tweet your book, post reviews--beg for reviews--overdo your comments on Facebook, and send to newspapers and plan book signings all to convince one other person to give your book a chance.

Are you like me? I'm an introvert. I don't enjoy tooting my own horn. The thought of standing in front of people to talk about my book makes me keel over in fear. But it's the new hat writers must wear. That's why I did most of my marketing early on-- before I wrote my book. I tried to create real relationships so that when the time came, a reader will buy my book based on what they know about me. They still might not like it but hey, they gave me a chance.

3. YOUR NEXT BOOK WAITS TO BE WRITTEN  You can't stop now. Another book is dying to come out of you. Finding the time to write that book is the challenge but you can do it. Mark off time for marketing and social media and begin again.

 I should add one more truth: That love will return.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Walking your Path

When I wrote The Mulligan, my husband and I were living in uncertain times. He was attending golf school because he felt he needed to expand his options for a career, Our path was not too clear but we forged ahead.

Some days I feel that way about writing. Last week, I was amazed when my book hit the Amazon bestseller list for Religious Romance at #26. It remained in the top 100 for a few days and then the steady decline began. I found myself watching the numbers when I should be trusting that God has a better plan than me than checking my sales every few hours.

Like me, the main character, Bobbi, had an inkling she wasn't doing what she should do but misplaced loyalty drove her to make choices that didn't fare well.

How often do we do the same in real life? I'm the kind of person who wants to take charge and fix everyone's problems. I'm slowly learning to wait and trust the plan God has for my life. Even if it means life gets ugly and painful.

What path are you walking today? Is it one of your own choosing or have you waited on God?

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Reality of a Book Release

The big day arrives. The day you've waited your entire life to arrive. The countdown is over. You've sent out blog posts, made an author page on Amazon, and told everyone you can tell. Book Release.

I spent The Mulligan's release on Feb. 6th at Disney with my grandchildren checking my phone and Facebook between rides. Anticipation ran through my veins as I waited for one reader to tell me she had purchased my book and loved it.

I hadn't received my books yet so when they arrived a few days later, opening the box felt very anti-climatic. Thankfully, I was surrounded by my daughter and family so her excitement bubbled into mine.

Next the articles I'd written went live. I hoped again someone might like my book. A few good friends emailed me they had read it and posted reviews on Amazon. A few more days passed. I placed a book in our community library. I also drew winners for my giveaway. I checked Amazon too many times and discovered they no longer carried the paperback version.

A little over a week later, I had garnered five reviews--some from strangers. One very good one from a stranger. A bit of my anxiety lessened.

In a frenzy to keep sales moving, I posted pictures from where my inspiration came from. I noted Amazon finally had a sample read on the website. I tweeted and posted. Prayed I wasn't annoying everyone.

I wished too I knew how many books I'd actually sold but Amazon wasn't telling me yet and my publisher information wasn't available. I prayed for 500 and then thought I was being greedy. I told myself I would settle for less--just let a few people love it.

And then Monday came.

It was time to pull out my current WIP and write again.

It felt like eating spinach after a dish of chocolate ice cream.

So this is what it's like to birth a book. It's out there in the world and all I can do is point to it and smile hoping someone will agree that my baby is beautiful.

Then I can go back to mopping my floors, packing my husband's lunch and finishing the next book to someday do it all over again.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Gift Card Giveaway for Release of The Mulligan - Share Your Hobby

So what does a picture of Disney have to do with my celebration of my book release? It's where I will be on Feb. 6th the day THE MULLIGAN releases. So all of you who have pre ordered and who will get your download that day, I'll be riding the train or merry-go-round with my two grandchildren and thinking of your generous support of my work.

But since I get to go to Disney, I want to thank you with more than words.

Bobbi, the young woman in my story, has two hobbies--painting and golf. I've recently started my own new hobby--photography. Life needs to be filled with fun times.

So to help you find your hobby or enhance it, I'm giving away a $50.00 GIFT CARD to TWO readers who leave a comment on this post telling me what their favorite hobby is or wish it was.

What GIFT CARDS? I'm giving one to either your choice of DICK'S or SPORTS AUTHORITY or HOBBY LOBBY. (Depending how far out in the boonies you live and want to drive.) My husband and I love all those places. Hope you do too.

And no I'm not making you jump through hoops to have a chance to win this prize. Just share this post if you want on Twitter or your Facebook page. I'll number each entry and my lucky husband will select a winner on Feb. 15th.  That gives you two whole weeks or more to think about what you want to win.

So thank you so much for the years of support you have showed me or are showing me now by purchasing my book. I really appreciate you. Please leave your email address too so I can notify you!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Demystifying the Book Release

I thought I knew what to expect in the weeks leading up to a book's release. I'd scoured every author's post online about it. I'd made notes and created lists. But as the days drew closer, I realized I still didn't fully know what to expect.

A few days back, I happened to be browsing my publisher's website and found my book with a release date. I knew it would be early in the year but I wasn't exactly sure when. So I hurried and posted about it. I rechecked the date. Ugh. My daughter and her family were flying in the day before and we were all headed to Disney and then ten days together back here at my place.

How can my book come out then? After pulling myself together, I frantically searched for my to-do list.

Each day, I checked Amazon as I was told that my book would be posted a few weeks after the release or maybe before. Last night I found the e-book being offered at a special price. Yes, I about dropped over seeing my book on Amazon. I guess that's normal. So I posted the sale everywhere I could.

With another quick consult to my notes, I then created my own Amazon author page. Again, I about dropped over seeing it live but I guess that comes with the territory as well.

It seems all I have left to do is post about my giveaway, send emails to all my hometown newspapers and let every person on the planet know I have a book coming out.

Oh, and breathe too.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

When to Market your Book

I'm not going to tell you here to build your online presence  Or grow your numbers. Or to paste the cover of your book and an Amazon link on every tweet you send or every Facebook post you write.You are already doing that, I'm sure.

What I'm going to tell you is when you should begin to market your book. But it isn't when you learn the release date. Or when you first see your cover. Or even when you get your contract.

I've owned two successful businesses in my life. The first one--a construction company. The second--a bookstore. So I know something about marketing.

We owned our construction company for over twenty years. Not once did we advertise. So how did we get steady business? By word of mouth.


We cared about our customers. We cared who they were and built relationships with them.

As for my bookstore, in the first year, we grew the profits by over 30%. Sure we brought in new merchandise but don't you think our customers could have gone to WalMart to buy their book for a much cheaper price than come into our store?

We built a relationship with our customers. We showed we cared by communicating with them and filling their needs on a personal level.

So what about selling your book? When should you start marketing it?

The minute you start to write. The minute you meet someone. And I don't mean you should tell them about your book. What I'm saying is to develop meaningful relationships even with others online. Not spamming them. Not joining their page and never communicating. Not caring when they voice a real concern.

I tend to buy books from authors who communicate a certain caring attitude. Sure, a writer can't have a one-to-one relationship with all of her followers but she can with many. And that's where the word-of-mouth enters.

I buy books from authors I like. Trust me. If I saw something online about you that I totally disagreed with, I would stop reading your work. No matter how great your book is. That's just the way I am and I tend to think many other people are as well.

I also buy books from authors who are responsive and real in their online presence. I don't think I have to explain that. It takes two seconds to respond to a tweet or a post.

Then I tell my friends about this author. They tell others and soon that author has more people buying their books.

Being a person who cares about who buys your product works. Trust me. It takes well-treated customers to make or break a product. Treat yours with care.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Purpose or Pain

I believe there are bullet points in our lives where we are given eternal choices to make beyond salvation.

Today I read a blog post about a woman who was sharing her journey about going home to heaven. She doesn't have much time left to live but she's chosen to live each day fully.

She has purpose in the days numbering her life. She is sharing her faith.

My purpose is the same as hers.  

Share what Jesus has done for me.

As an inspirational writer, I have a limitless opportunity. I don't always do the in-your-face kind of sharing but I try to point my reader toward God.  Sometimes I'm more successful than other times. Sometimes I'm bolder.

But I remember when I made that choice to  write inspirational or secular fiction. I wanted to sell books and I wanted  to get an agent. I figured the secular market was bigger with more opportunity so I  wrote a romance.

I agonized over that romance. Then I read a Christian book by an author I admired. I wept.

I also changed my choice.

Purpose in our lives is simple. We share about Jesus. We point as many people toward heaven as we can. Plain and simple. No more pain. No more worries. No more frustration.

Perhaps this post is not my norm but that's okay. I'm not so normal either.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Have Blogging Comments Gone AWOL?

The waters are no longer crystal blue. We have U Tube, Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter . . .the list goes on. When I started Blogging in 2006, Facebook and I had not yet met. I had to search for good blog posts to read and when I did find one I liked, I made a point to comment.

Why not? I wasn't spending my time commenting any other place.

When I check my blog stats--I see I readers are reading my posts. But who wants to jump through the hoops of posting (you know the many steps) when you can click a like on Facebook.

I raise my hand in guilt. I read a ton of blogs and rarely comment. Instead, I tweet the ones I want to share or I like it on Facebook. With all a writer has to do in a day, it's hard to take the time to write a lengthy post even when I loved what the writer said.

Here's the catch. As writers, we are encouraged to continue to blog. Blogging strengthens our writing muscles. It helps us sort our ideas. It gives us a place to share our thoughts in more than a few sentences. Stopping isn't really an option.

But neither is commenting like I'd like to comment.

Maybe someday someone will come up with a fast way to comment on Blogging. I agree, disagree, love, hate, want more ... or I'll just pass this on.

We live in a fast world. Hang on tight.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How Much Do You Want It?

Every year we make resolutions. Or goals. Whatever you want to call them. I've decided to ride my bike more often--get back in shape. Eat healthier.

But two months ago, when I landed an agent--I also decided I must increase my online presence if I wanted to also land a great publisher. It's a task I've been avoiding ever since I started to write for publication. Oh, I love blog followers and I dabble on Twitter but I was one of those writers who often said that I didn't want publication that bad if I had to increase my numbers.

I still don't like checking stats. But in two months, I've added several hundred real people who are writers and readers to my Twitter account. Not by paying someone to do it for me. Not by taking on everyone.

But by writing meaningful content in that little tiny space.

I actually enjoy reading my Twitter feed now. I enjoy seeing what others with common interests are saying. I also understand it's my obligation to give them something in return--not just advertisements of my upcoming releases.

Will this increased effort provide me more opportunity in the future with publishing houses? Honestly, I still believe writing a great book is the best way to get published. Yes, I wish I didn't have to do any of my own marketing but that's the reality today. If I want to be part of that publishing machine, then that means accepting the reality  that I must get known as well.

How much do I want it? Enough to give my 100%. Do you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A personal note

I've been blogging since 2006. Shortly after I started, my life took a definite turn in another direction. We packed up our belongings and started moving across the country--west and north and south again in search of stable employment.

My blog went from writing about writing to writing about the journey I was taking to trust God with the plans for my life. In March, once again, we landed back in Florida for work. Never did I plan to return here.

At the start of 2014, I captured my phrase for the year--Embrace the Adventure. I'm doing it. I've actually not called my daughter once this year in tears. Well, maybe only once. But settling, however temporary this home is for us, doesn't mean we embrace everything well.

Christmas is coming in less than two weeks. The memories of past ones pull at my soul hard. I try not to remember but with all the pictures, and lights and festivities it's difficult not to remember past holidays spent with my daughter as a family. We used to put up a tree, and set the table with red and green napkins. I'd dig out my favorite recipes and pack away surprise gifts. I love Christmas. I love the time spent remembering the meaning and the time spent telling friends and family you love them. When your life and circumstances change, so do some of those rituals and remembrances.

This year has also brought changes in my writing life. I now have an agent, a book coming out and responsibilities I didn't have in the past.

What I fear is my blog and the changes I've seen in it. I like to write about the day-to-day challenges we all go through. Maybe this seems insignificant but I don't want my blog to become another tool to self-promote. I want it to be where I get real, tell you that sometimes life is a pain but that with time, God does answer prayer. I want to be able to say that I miss my home, I wish I was with family this Christmas and I want to bawl every time I hear a Christmas carol.

Yet, I know this is where God wants me. And I will not move until I am positive it's His will no matter how many Christmases I spend here.

So I'm taking a deep breath. Embracing life's challenges. Embracing the adventure.

Are you?