Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What You Should Know About Self-Publishing by Shelley Young

If writing is your hobby, right on! You have joined a league of others who use creative writing for pleasure, expressions of emotions and sharing expressions of fear and pain. I’m willing to bet when you share your writing with others you receive positive feedback. I encourage you not to only continue writing, but share what you’ve written. 

I say this because reading is also done because it’s pleasurable and it helps to express emotions, fear, pain and laughter.

If you’re thinking of turning your writing into a business it means you’ve made the conscious decision to reach as many readers as you can with your artistic creativity. Many find this path daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The reason most people fear becoming a published author is because they fear failure or someone criticizing their efforts. Just remember that you’re not going to please everyone. The key is finding the right target for your genre.  

Below I have created a list of things that I believe may maximize your potential, but I don’t promise or guarantee any results. What I’ve listed are my experiences, as well my point of views.

1.       Do not set your goals too high in the beginning. For example, if you don’t sell thousands of copies of your novel on its release date, this is okay. The average Indie author makes $450 annually from Amazon book sales. Others list Indie success as selling 2 books per day.

2.      Be creative with marketing. Most Indies use the same approach for promoting their work. Try and think outside the box so that your promotion stands out from others.

3.      Be prepared to work hard to market your novels.

4.      You MUST have a website.  You can even create one free on sites like Wix.com. Wix offers preformatted websites that you can add or take away from and when you’re done your site can actually look like you’ve paid someone a couple of grand to build it. I pay for the site I use. I love it, because it’s easy to maintain. I can arrange it just how I want it. Most of all, I love my site’s simplicity. Grand isn’t necessary. If you don’t believe me, check out some well-known author sites. I’ve seen a couple that were very simplistic.

5.      You MUST have business cards. If you want to be noticed, you have to do something to get someone’s attention. Vistaprint and other online markets are available and inexpensive. Why are business cards important? So I’m standing at the check-out at Chipotle and happen to look over my shoulder. Six police officers are standing beside me, ready to pay for their meals. I write crime fiction. I simply reached inside my purse, pulled out a business card and told these gentlemen, “I need to interview you for a new novel I’m writing.”  I have a policeman, a sheriff and two ex-detectives who answer any questions I have. It’s not easy getting a cop to do this. Trust me. I’m sure these fellas checked me out first and having a professional business card helped.

6.      You MUST join social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ (just to name the most common ones). The first time someone told me this, I rolled my eyes clear to the back of my head. Who has time for social media when you have books to write? You might not sell a lot of books on these sites, but know that they are important. Social media is topping the charts as the reason people buy cell phones, iPads, tablets, etc. Building a platform takes time. Some authors say they don’t sell books via social media. It depends on your genre and how many people you’re reaching with your tweets and posts. The idea of even having a Pinterest account wasn’t appealing for me, because of my time constraints. But I forced myself. I had the account for perhaps a year before I actually did something with it. So one day I jumped on it and ended up pinning hundreds of pins. Well, some of the pins were of Albania and how beautiful it is. Low. And. Behold. I got more repins on these from a handful of Albanians who are on Pinterest. They saw these pins and was perhaps wondering why a Black woman was pinning about Albania! And there, they see it. My book is pinned and my MC has the Albanian flag tattooed on his chest. I got a sale. Who would have thunk it? The person liked the book so much, she bought ALL my books, contacted me on Twitter AND went on my website to purchase an autographed copy so she could send to a relative in ALBANIA. You gotta love when things like this happen.

7.      Don’t forsake Twitter. This one is a little more personal than the others, as you have perhaps noticed I didn’t include ‘must.’ There’s a madness to Twitter that actually works. I will share that madness at a later time. But for now, just know retweeting is a big issue.

8.     You need more than one book to reach the masses. Regardless if your one book is well-written and is perhaps the next bestseller, think of it this way. If one was okay, McDonalds would have only one type of burger, Taco Bell would offer only one type of taco, Pizza Hut would offer cheese on pizza dough. Because of the variety these places offer, a family of four can go to one of these places, order different things, and leave satisfied. One of your readers doesn’t like your heroine? It’s okay. I have a sexy hunk in another novel that will knock her socks off.

9.      You MUST have your work edited. Guys, I have no problems with beta readers, but let me share with you how many times I’ve read novels published after beta readers have approved them. Far too many and some of the errors I found actually made my already large eyes bug out even more. Nope, nope, nope. Get an editor. Two of my full-length novels have gone through editing THREE times. Sometimes it’s not your editor’s fault when errors are still found. Sometimes those errors are caused by you fixing an area they brought to your attention only for you to create another error in the process. It takes time, but it’s necessary. If you don’t believe me, jump on Amazon and pull up ten Indie author novel reviews and I promise you that at least nine or all of them will have poor editing listed in the review.

10.    Waiting for readers to discover you isn’t going to happen. You must have a marketing strategy. Some may work. Some may not, but let me throw this at you. My biggest sale days are usually Friday – Monday, with the exception of Saturday. People are not home on Saturday when the weather is nice, which means they’re not online to purchase your novel. I did a promotion on Black Friday and lost my ass! Why? Everyone was out shopping. I will never do that again. I did a promotion for Valentines and used my novel that had the most red in its cover. The novel jumped all over Amazon’s bestseller’s list in three countries from that promotion. I have more promotion tips that I will offer later.

11.    You WILL receive a one star review on Amazon. Don’t take it personal. “Gone Girl” has more than two thousand one star reviews. That didn’t stop it from being made into a movie. Listen to what the reader is saying and if it doesn’t apply, don’t take it personal. Someone gave me one star for The Blood Feud. His words were something like, ‘reads like a 25 cent cheap porn comic.’ Low. And. Behold. A reader who obviously thought that 25 cent cheap porn comics were interesting bought my book then sent me an email and said he bought it because of the review. Yes, he enjoyed it. I wrote him back and said, ‘If you liked that one, try Plain Dealing.’ He sent a tweet showing that he purchased that book as well.

12.     Sometimes people have no plans of buying your book, but you can talk them into it. Engage with readers. Converse. I jump all over the Goodreads postings, offering my opinion on the books I’ve read. Never say, ‘Buy my book.’ Just talk. Let them know you’re an author. Blend in. Let them see how creative you are in your speaking. Be professional. Never slam others. You can actually pitch your book without people realizing it. The trick is not to make it obvious. The intention is to pique their interest so that they ask about your work. Will you get a sale every time? No, but it happens a few times and I got great feedback from the readers.

13.    Don’t focus on authors to buy your books. If your FB and Twitter accounts have only authors as followers, you are preaching to the choir. They want you to buy THIER book and not the other way around. It takes time to build a following of readers. Encourage fans to join you on FB, Twitter and other sites. Word of mouth is the best publicity.

14.    If your book isn’t visible, no one knows to buy it. Add your books to as many online eBook sites as possible. When you’re having a promotion, ask the site to list you on their first page. Sometimes there’s a small fee involved. Sometimes not. Ask the site to share with you how much traffic they receive. If it’s a good number, pay the fee and pray for the best. This has worked well for me.

15.     Attend book festivals and book signings, but don’t attend either until you are well prepared. I can go on and on about how to prepare, but James Moushon has already posted some great advice on this subject. And trust me. James knows what he’s talking about. http://bit.ly/1BNLyyV

16.    If you decide to do a free giveaway know in advance how to maximize it for the best results. Doing free giveaways and promotions are great tools to use if you want more readers to discover you. I recommend that you hold off doing a free give away or low price promotion until you have as many books available as you possibly can. I ran my first promotion after I had three books published. The promotion was for three days. I sold more than one thousand books on the last day of that promotion alone. I wouldn’t have reached this number if I only had one novel. I also recommend that you spend (approximately $100.00) on online promotional services who list your books on multiple websites. This means on the days of your promotion, the cover of your book is listed on the front page of online eBook sites. They are clearly visible. No searching the catalog is involved. A great cover and catchy title will most definitely get you more clicks.

17.    Your cover is just as important as your novel’s content. You can purchase book cover designs for as little as $5 on Fiverrr. I used Fiverrr for my eBook cover for Dali’s Fantasy. It’s a flash fiction piece that I sell for $.99, so I didn’t want to spend a great deal of money on the cover. A good cover will cost you anywhere from $50.00 - $500. Hannah Gleghorn Design does all of my covers. I discovered her work while browsing for books and loved the cover of the one I was thinking of purchasing. I think she has fantastic pricing, especially compared to other designers I have come across. Her website is http://hannahgleghorn.com/. Be sure to read my next helpful tip.

18.    Test the waters before you try it. Before contracting with someone to edit your book or design your cover, ask them for samples. With all of my editors, I send them as many pages as they allow. They return them with their changes. Usually you can sense how well an editor is this way, and you’ll be surprised how much editing your work needs before it can be published. Not with Hannah, but with other book designers, I also had them send me a sample of how they saw my cover. Don’t settle. This is your work – your baby. If you’re not satisfied, express the changes you want made and I’m sure your designer will do all they can to assist you.

19.   Choose your editor wisely. I completed the second installment of my series and my editor was already busy working on a different novel of mine. To kill two birds with one stone, I shopped online for a second editor. I sent out my sample and LOVED the work that was returned to me, so I thought, ‘go for it!’ Low. And. Behold. Three weeks was the deadline. Every time I jumped on Facebook, there was my secondary editor posting thousands of posts. I couldn’t believe the amount of time she was spending online when she had a deadline to meet in three weeks. Still, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Two weeks in, I emailed her and discovered she hadn’t even STARTED editing. I cancelled the contract and contacted my primary editor and explained my situation. I had already paid for promotions and had a release date. Jerry Shaw worked his magic and edited two of my novels back to back, allowing me to meet my deadline. You don’t have to use any of the people I mention, but for those who want to check Jerry out his email is geraldwilliamshaw@gmail.com. I find his pricing extraordinarily reasonable.

20.   If you’re thinking of using a vanity press to publish your work, please, for all that’s Holy, check them out. A vanity press, vanity publisher or subsidy publisher is a term to describe a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published. It’s what Indie authors are all about, right? I know authors who see their books selling and have yet to receive a single royalty check. All of them had signed contracts with the same vanity press. Do your research. When I’m researching a company online, I key in their name and add ‘bad reviews’ at the end. This has saved me from making what could have been some bad decisions.

Shelley Young

Author Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Historical, Mainstream, Erotica

Website: Shelley Young - Amazon International Bestselling Author
Twitter: @dardiandreshaj
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Google+: Check Out Google+
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Amazon Author Profile

Author Description: 
Shelley Young is an Amazon International Bestseller in crime, romance and suspense. Compared often as a mash-up of two of the best thriller and erotica authors, her thriller, suspense and mystery novels have been downloaded from Canada to Australia in eBook form. A book club favorite, each of her novels were nominated as best Indie book of 2014 in its genre. The author of the Dardian Dreshaj novels, who fans have dubbed its leading character as 'a man all men dream of being and all women want to love,' she's also a writer of mystery, as well as historical. Look for her historical series scheduled to be released in 2016 and two more crime thrillers scheduled for release in the first part of 2015. 

Dardian Dreshaj has lived twelve years solely during the night. A handsome, Albanian immigrant who loves as passionately as he kills, he IS the highest paid contract killer in America. 

Bad doctor, good nurse is a lethal combination. For Dr. Andreus Solomon Tell, who has a temperament as dark as his well-kept secret, it's no wonder women are falling head-over-heels dead in the small town of Plain Dealing where he lives. Is he a murderer? Can he be tamed? Is his persuasive mannerism potent enough to fool everyone around him? 

If you enjoy novels of crime, investigations and a touch of heat levels four and five erotica, novels with characters you can't help falling for and cheering for them every step of the way, you'll love the writings of this author. She currently resides in So California with her family.

Shelley's Book List

Shelley Young is the author of the Dardian Dreshaj novels and a publishing industry blogger. This post was re-posted with permission from Shelley Young by the eBook Author Corner, a book industry blog.

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Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Author Blogs: Using Your Blog to Market to Your Readers Has Its Issues

Blogging for many authors is a way to communicate to their readers and market their books. However, they are finding that there are some issues. Finding time and interesting content to write about on a regular basis can be a problem.  

This post is a summary of comments from a collection of outstanding, award-winning authors interviewed at the HBS Author’s Spotlight and how they tackle the marketing of their novels and the issues involved.

To date we have conducted over 300 interviews.  (Click on the author’s name to view their complete interview.)

General question

During our interviews I will ask the authors questions about their blogs and what they are trying to do with them. The questions usually follow along these lines.

Do you want to keep readers informed or market your books or provide useful information to other writers or all of the above with your blog? Are there time issues or problems that get in your way?

Marketing to Your Readers

Many authors use their blogs to target their readers and market their novels. Their goal is to provide interesting content and keep their readers informed and coming back for more. They feel that using a blog to maintain an on-line presence is the key to selling their novels. Here is what several of the Spotlight Crew had to say about the approach.

Author Damien Boyd is the author of the The DI Nick Dixon Crime Series.

“I try to keep readers informed and involved. They have been kind enough to read my books and so it’s only fair! It’s also nice for new readers ‘checking me out’ to see a good website and an active Twitter and Facebook presence but it’s more about being available to readers who like to get in touch, as many do.”

Award-winning and USA Today Bestselling Author Susan M. Boyer is the author of the Liz Talbot romantic mystery series.

“Honestly, I feel as though of all the things I do, the blog is the thing that most often gets pushed to the back burner, because there are so many things to be done and a limited amount of time. My first priority has to be the books. That said, my primary goal with the blog is simply to communicate with readers. It’s sort of a postcard from my world.”

Best-Selling Author Helen Hanson writes Mystery & Thrillers and Suspense novels.

“Readers are my focus. They’re the only reason my work hit the Top 100 on Kindle. I love hearing from people who’ve read my work. It’s a total kick. I will write you back if you send something my way.

When I was writing my first novel, 3 LIES, I had no readers, but I wanted to blog. So I wrote whatever I felt like. When I published 3 LIES, being a geek, I decided to do my own ebook formatting. Consequently, I learned and blogged about the process. These were also intended to be my notes to format my next book. You forget this stuff unless you do it routinely. Consequently, a lot of writers found my site. It’s been an interesting experience conversing with them, and they’re writing some amazing stuff, so I kept the formatting series available for other writers.”

Brent Hartinger is the author of The Russel Middlebrook series. The movie version of his novel: Geography Club was released in 2013.

“I suppose it's marketing, but I honestly never think of it like that. Like any good blog, it's a way to express myself.

The bottom line is that these days most authors need to do more than write books. They need a "presence" online, and they need to make themselves available to readers. I know this makes a lot of writers uncomfortable, especially older writers who broke through under the previous system. At first it made me uncomfortable. But I've learned a few things.

First, it's not "me" out there -- it's Public Me. It's a version of me that I think readers of my books would be interested in. I share some, but not everything. I try to stay positive, I try to be interesting. I don't burden people with stuff that's only interesting to me or my partner, and I never ever bitch or complain in public. I get to do what I love for a living! Writing-wise, I have nothing to complain about, especially to my fans.

Second, it's not "work." After all these years, I now know that interacting with readers is actually one of the best parts of being an author. These are your fans, your friends! And whenever it starts to feel like "work," I stop. I move onto something else.

Sometimes it is hard to deal with the Internet -- everyone has an opinion about your work, and they don't hesitate to write about it in the most brutal way possible. Like most authors and artists, I avoid online discussions of my work, pro or con. Criticizing works of art is everyone's right -- I do it too about other books or movies. But not about or for me. It's not something I'm involved in or ever will be.”

Author John Heldt writes Romance and  Historical Fiction novels.

“I created the blog a little over a year ago to promote my published works and update readers on the progress of future projects. On occasion I use it to review books and tell people about my other interests.”

Michael R. Hicks is the Bestselling author of the IN HER NAME Sci-Fi and HARVEST Thriller novels. Mike has also written the The Path To Self-Publishing Success.

“My primary goal is just to have a virtual living room where people can come in and flop down on the sofa for a while and paw through the books scattered on the coffee table. If I was smart, I'd probably put a lot more effort into blogging like John Scalzi does, but I haven't gotten there yet. But I can't complain with 600 or so visits a day on average. I'm sure I sell at least some books through my web site, but it's really just there as a place for folks to go who want to find out more about me and my work.”

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Romance Author Katie Jennings writes the Dryad Quartet series.

“I’m trying to update my blog much more regularly these days by posting things that interest readers. I’m doing a fourteen week blog series about ghosts and ghost hunting to help promote So Fell the Sparrow, which I hope will build up lots of hype for the book. I have no idea how I have time for everything, as I always feel like I’m behind. I have a backlogged list of things to do and it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day!”

Author Brian D. Meeks is the author of the Henry Wood Detective Series.

“If I'm honest, I mostly use my blog as a daily diary of what I'm doing with my books. A couple of years ago the posts were much better. I've been blogging every day since Jan 2, 2010, and the busier I get with writing/publishing, the weaker the daily blog posts get…”

Author Ty Patterson is a Thriller & Suspense and Crime thriller writer.

“I want to make my blog as the starting point for my readers’ journey but I am nowhere near that point.

Currently my blog serves as yet another discovery platform for my books. I also use it to share my writing experiences with other authors.”

Author Michele Shriver is a Mystery & Fantasy Writer. She is noted for her Real Life Women’s Fiction novels.

“I actually just made a lot of changes to the blog and website a few days ago, so this is good timing. I want it to be a place where readers can come and learn a bit about me and about my books, but I enjoy featuring other authors on the blog as well. Lately I've had the chance to feature some new releases of other authors, and also some interesting guest posts. I like to do that because it's a way to keep the blog active even when I may not have much interesting to say or I've been too busy writing on my books to write new blog posts. I'll be blogging quite a bit about my conference coming up. As for time- it's just something else that has to be squeezed in.”

Author Richard Stephenson is the bestselling dystopian author of the New America Series.

“At the risk of sounding greedy, the primary goal of my blog is to drive sales.  I’m sure any author with a blog will agree.  The secondary goal is the satisfaction of helping my fellow indie authors so they won’t have to struggle like I did when I started out.  It also helps that I’m very tech savvy.  Before I started writing, my biggest hobby was a little side business fixing computers for friends, co-workers, and whatever business they sent my way.  Anything computer related comes natural to me so I have been fortunate enough to be proficient at it.”

Author Mike Wells is an American bestselling author including Lust, Money & Murder and Passion, Power & Sin.

“My primary goal is to be a successful writer and entertain my readers as much as possible.  My blog serves that purpose.  The information and tips for other writers is sort of a freebie every now and then I’m inspired to share what I’ve learned and write a post about it. Simple as that.”

Mystery Author Dave Zeltserman is the award-winning author of the Julius Katz mystery series.

 “Small Crimes blog: What I’m trying to do with the blog is connect with my readers, provide some interesting articles, and keep readers’ apprised to new stuff of mine coming out.”

There May Be Issues

Several of the Spotlight Crew had issues with blogging because of the time involved. They wanted to prioritize their work schedule between writing novels, social media and blogging. For some blogging had to take a backseat.
Author Cindy Blackburn is the author of Cue Ball Mysteries and  the Cassie Baxter Mysteries.

“I use my blog—a funny, silly poem posted every Sunday—as a way to tell folks what’s been on my mind that week. It’s my ‘news’ really. Time is a huge issue. Between writing mysteries, keeping up with my blog, twitter, and other social media, I’m almost always working. And even when I’m doing something else, I have my current work in progress and characters in my head, nagging me. Good thing I love my job!”

Best-selling Author Russell Blake is the award-winning author of The JET series, Assassin series and BLACK series.

“I view the blog as a pressure valve, to let off steam, nothing more. I write my blog mainly for other authors, so not a lot of books being sold that way. I have no goal other than to be relevant in any discourse. People will buy my books due to word of mouth, primarily, so all the social media and the rest as anything but a way to interact with readers I view as a waste of time. As to time, if you look at the hours I put in; it’s not hard to find the time if what you do is this, twelve to fifteen hours a day.”

Author Carmen DeSousa is a romantic-suspense and paranormal author of the Southern Suspense Series.

“Ahh…one of my number one questions[time]! The easiest answer: I’m a workaholic, and I love books. I wake up at five a.m. and spend three hours of my day simply blogging and chatting on social networks. I then workout on an elliptical where I am able to read for an hour. After that, I drop my son off at school and then come home and write until I have to pick him up. I try to write two thousand words a day. At night, I edit for other authors, and then right before I go to bed, I read what I wrote for the day. So…I spend about fifteen hours in my book world.”

Author Douglas Dorow is a mystery and thrillers author.

“Managing time is the magic bullet. I have a full-time job in addition to my writing, so I have to prioritize what I work on if I want to get any writing done. Blogging is something I do less frequently. I don’t know if I should do it at all since I do it infrequently, but I like to share things with readers and writers once in a while, so I post something out there once in a while.”

Author Paul Levine is the award-winning, bestselling Mystery & Thrillers author of the JAKE LASSITER and SOLOMON vs. LORD series.

“Well, now that I’m deep into the next novel, my blog has suffered.  When I’m caught up blogging, the novel suffers.  Again, I blog for fun. Yes, I’d like to pop up on search engines with readers looking for “legal thrillers” or “courtroom mysteries,” but on a time/benefit analysis, I’m not sure blogging is great marketing.”

Author Julie Anne Lindsey is the bestselling author of the Honey Creek Books and The Patience Price Mysteries.

“I feel I neglect my blog horribly these days. In the beginning I wrote daily, then three days a week, then once a week….As writing has gone from an aspiration to a deadline situation, I’ve fallen away from the dedicated schedule I began with. I started my blog the year I started writing in the hopes of publication. I thought there was enough to learn that it deserved being chronicled, so I did. I blogged about whatever I learned that week about craft, blogged industry news and contests, my personal rejections and triumphs. It was a sounding board. A place to find friends and share what I had to offer. I also used it to gain followers. Back then my followers were all writers and that was the goal – outreach and documentation.

I’m not sure who visits now, but I use the blog for continued networking, to support and encourage fellow writers and to share news related to my career. I open the blog to any writer who wants to guest post or spotlight their new release and I occasionally blog about an event or something notable in my writing journey, but overall, I’ve fallen slack. It’s tough to juggle it all with real life and meet the deadlines, so family comes first, then friends, then writing and editing.

After that, I update my social media and the blog gets my attention last. Time management is the toughest thing in this life, I think.”

Bestselling Mystery and Suspense Author Robin Mahle is an author of the Redwood Violet suspense series.

“But it is difficult and I’m not nearly as up to speed with the whole blogging thing as some of my colleagues.  I should be posting much more often, but I need to write novels or all the blogging in the world isn’t going to do me a bit of good.  My goal is to simply give readers a glimpse of who I am and tell them a little about my writing process. If they like what they read, maybe they’ll pick up one of my books.  It’s all about building relationships!”

Suspense Author Dale Mayer is a writer of Romantic Suspense, Thrillers and Paranormal Romance. Dale has written several series including the Design series, By Death Series, Family Blood Ties, and Psychic Visions series.

“My blog does touch on the industry and publishing and writing at times, but I’ve cut back on that.  I think there’s too much infighting going on and it’s counter-productive.  As Jeff Bezos [Amazon founder] notes and I just blogged about:  Complaining is not a business strategy.

I do Survival Friday posts every Friday to give readers of my blog important information they can use.

I plan on starting Who Dares Wins Wednesday after Survival Friday runs out in July.  Giving people useful tips for living.”

Author Tracy H. Meyer writes gritty, edgy Young Adult/New Adult fiction and Adult Romance.

“First of all, thank you! I enjoy writing on my blog, though I don’t do it on a schedule.
I write a blog when something comes into my mind that I want to write about. I also contribute to others’ blogs and that’s a really fun way to reach new readers. My daily priority is writing, then social media, then my blog. But if something pops up in my head that I want to blog about, nothing can stop me!”

Author C. J. Peterson is the author of the The Holy Flame Trilogy.

“I’m afraid as far as my blog that gets the least amount of attention from me. Along with the Featured Author page, that is changed out each month. When I post in my actual blog, they tend to be posts that mean something to me. I tend to post only if a thought strikes me, or a new release, or in the last two, it was poetry from my husband’s heart from his time in the military. My main passion in writing is in the books.”

It is All about Blog Content

Some of the authors interviewed on the HBS Author’s Spotlight thought blog content was important in keeping their readers involved. The idea here is to get the readers to keep coming back to the blog.

Author Giacomo Giammatteo writes Mystery and Suspense novels in which many of the scenes are taken from real-life experiences.

“…I love writing about our animals, so many of the blog posts are either about them or incorporate the animals into stories on writing or life in general. I have two blogs: one for my non-fiction website, http://nomistakes.org, where I publish weekly tips on resumes and interviews and such; and the other is my mystery blog and the topics can range from my animals, to drug addiction, to writing, anything. My goal is not to sell books, but more to just let people know who I am.”

Author Garrard Hayes writes Crime, Mystery and Thriller novels.

“Thank you, although I don’t blog as much as I used to. I post my interviews there and write about foreign policy and the Middle East. My blog is part of my website but it appears on my amazon.com author page and on my Goodreads author page automatically, and I post it on Facebook and tweet it. All my social media sites are connected, so people can easily find my website on my Twitter profile and so on. I’m passionate about writing and encouraging others, but also I like to inform people about things that affect all of us, such as the danger of militant Islam and the abuse of human rights.”

Best-selling Author Kathleen Kirkwood (pseudonym for Anita Gordon) is award-winning Romance, Historical Fiction, and Paranormal writer.

“LOL, that's another struggle and I may have to only do it every other week. We'll see. If I'm going to put time into a blog, I want it to have some "meat" to it and be of interest to the reader as well as myself since it takes me awhile to compose them. There are so many interesting facts and tidbits that come up during the writing of a novel, but that never get into it, I'd like to include them in the blog.

It's a sort of a behind-the-scenes look, an ‘author confidential’ if you will (yes, inspired by the Doctor Who Confidentials.) I also love historic recipes and am including foods my characters eat in the pages of the book (and some they don't, but still with an historic connection). I'll be focusing on Viking cooking is several blogs ahead, including Katla's skyr. Meanwhile, next week, I'll dish up some Pönnukökur með þeyttum rjóma, Icelandic Pancakes (think dessert crêpes).”

Author David Lawlor is a Historical Fiction Writer and provides an editing service for other authors.

“They are very important in that they are the only real means I use to tell people about my books. I have found many helpful people on Twitter who have been more than willing to tweet to others about my writing. I also have a blog – historywithatwist.wordpress.com  – which celebrates the bit players of history, the ordinary man or woman who may have done one extraordinary thing. There are many of them out there and their stories can be just as powerful, if not more so, than those larger historic figures. I get to interact with like-minded enthusiasts on the blog and often have stories referred to me from people who follow it.”

Chantel Rhondeau is a Romantic suspense author. Chantel writes the Agents in Love series.

“I used to spend a lot of time blogging. Now, I'm a great cheater, truthfully. Since I know my readers are interested in finding new authors and things to read, I signed up as a tour host for blog tours. Then I'm given ready-made posts, can give my readers new, interesting content, and I don't have to put a ton of work into it.

Now, of course I do try and get in some book reviews and more personal posts, but when I'm in a rush and behind schedule, my blog mostly maintains itself with the blog tour posts.”

Bestselling Author Vickie McKeehan writes romantic suspense.

“I still don’t know why I dragged my feet so long about starting a blog. I love having one now! The only problem with it is coming up with new content.

I’m the first to admit I’m not as good about writing articles as I should be. Writing books takes up most of my days. I salute those other writers like Carolyn Arnold though who can do it all and make it look effortless. Carolyn’s one who does it all.”

Takeaways from Using Your Blog to Market Your Novels

A.    Keep readers informed, involved and interested.
B.     There are time issues involved with blogging on a regular basis.
C.     You must prioritize your work load between writing, social media and blogging.
D.    Interesting content will keep the reader coming back to the blog.
E.     A blog helps you practice the art of writing.

Related posts

From Joel Friedlander and Joan Stewart 

Follow me:

Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner
Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight

Check out the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novels:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Author Blogs: Helping Other Authors Has Its Benefits

Blogging for many authors is a way to communicate to their readers and market their books. But many authors are taking their blog a step further. They are using their blogs to help other authors and especially causes.

This post is a summary of comments from a collection of outstanding, award-winning authors interviewed at the HBS Author’s Spotlight. To date we have conducted over 300 interviews. 
(Click on the author’s name to view their complete interview.)

General question

During our interviews I will ask the authors questions about their blogs and what they are trying to do with them. The questions usually follow along these lines.

Do you want to keep readers informed or market your books or provide useful information to other writers or all of the above with your blog? Tell us about the time factor?

Let’s Help Others

We start off this post with some general ideas about blogging, getting cross-traffic to your blog by connecting with other authors and the benefits of helping others.

Romance Author Rachelle Ayala @AyalaRachelle is an author, blogger and a member of the World Literary Café.

“The blogging took off with the social networking. I couldn't possibly think of so many wise and pithy things to write about myself every single day, but I can most certainly meet and find other authors to share their wise and pithy thoughts.

My blog is heavily visited because of the Promo Site listing (a section of her blog) so it is a win-win situation for everyone who appears on my blog. The listing drives traffic to the blog, I tweet my blog posts to my Triberr tribes with almost a million reach, and the guests drive traffic to my blog by inviting their followers. Many people have met each other from being on my blog.

I like to be a connector and put people in touch with other people and information, so in that sense, I enjoy blogging. I meet people on Twitter and word seems to get around that I'm a friendly blog host.
The blogging indirectly helps my book sales because visitors see my banners and sometimes the guests buy or gift my book to their friends in gratitude for me hosting them. But book sales is not the main reason for blogging. It is meeting people and being engaged with their success. Somehow other people's success invigorates me, and it feels good to be a small part of it.”

Author Joanna Penn @thecreativepenn (J. F. Penn) is an Action-Adventure Thriller Author creating the ARKANE thriller series. Also, she is a leading consultant in the book industry.

“I started out blogging 4 years ago before I had even written fiction in order to share my lessons learned along the way. So for me, blogging wasn’t about selling my fiction, it was a means to become part of a community and help others. Back then, self-publishing wasn’t so popular but now, it’s gone mainstream and so my main blog at the CreativePenn.com picked up readers.

I think the trend for blogging and sharing right now really does stem from an honest desire to share and help others. It is the Wild West right now for indie authors so people are sharing what works, or what doesn’t and the feedback helps others. There’s an authentic community feeling amongst these indie blogs, and I love being part of that!

In terms of how blogging fits with marketing, I have a business as well as writing fiction. The Creative Penn is more about selling products and my services but I now have a fiction blog www.JFPenn.com where I write articles based on my research for the novels.

However, mainly I see blogging for fiction more as a value add, not as a sales mechanism or for marketing. I write articles that my readers would enjoy, rather than trying to attract readers through blogging.”

Author Patricia Zick @PCZick is an award-winning writer for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction.

“In Living Lightly [her blog], my goal is to present information on nature, the environment, gardening, and ways to live a life with the least impact on the Earth.

In Writing Whims [another blog], I hope to share what I’ve learned about writing with my readers. I also promote other writers on Author Wednesday and Book Review Friday. I don’t know how I do it, but right now while I’m trying to put together my gardening posts into a new ebook, my fiction has taken a backseat, but I’ll get back to it in a few weeks.”

Helping Other Authors

Many of the authors I have interviewed feel that their blog’s goal is to help other authors. It is the ‘what goes around comes around’ theory. The following is from a group of outstanding authors who practice this theory.

Kelly Abell @kellyabellbooks is a best-selling Romance, Mystery & Thrillers Author. She hails from the UK and analyzes people, a great background for a successful writer.

“I began sharing writing tips on my website after I published my first book.  I am a firm believer in paying it forward and if I can offer tips and tricks that I've learned along the way, then that makes me feel like I'm contributing to someone else's success. 

This is a difficult business to navigate and we all need to help each other through it.  I'm also very active in the Florida Writer's Association and will be conducting some writing workshops through one of my publishers, Solstice Publishing.  Be on the lookout for those.”

Author Jennifer Donohoe @donohoejennifer is a Science Fiction & Fantasy, Horror, Young Adult writer.

“As an Indie Author, I feel it is very important to help fellow authors. We all need to have a boost and look out for one another. I enjoy having an author do a guest post on my blog and they get some rewarding feedback for their post. I believe my primary goal is to keep the readers informed. If they are aware it's out there there'll be more of a chance for them to take a look or purchase it.”

Tricia Drammeh @triciadrammeh is the author of Young Adult, paranormal romance and Fantasy novels.

“I love blogging. I’m passionate about helping other writers and starting a dialogue where writers in various stages of publication can share information with each other. There are so many writers who’ve helped me, I can only try to pay it forward. Maintaining my blog never feels like a job or a chore. I absolutely enjoy it. I don’t find time to work on it—I make time.”
Award-winning Author Donna Fasano @DonnaFaz writes Sweet Romance novels. Her books have sold over 3.6 million copies worldwide and have been published in nearly two dozen languages.

“Offering other authors a helping hand makes me feel good. I'm a big advocate of helping others (and not just in a professional sense). Some authors like to hold onto their hard-earned lessons tightly, and I met some of those types of people back when I first began self-publishing; they know answers and secrets but refuse to tell. However, I met other authors who were generous with information and who helped me immensely. And now that I've learned how to do this successfully, I want to help others all I can. I'm a firm believer in 'what goes around, comes around'...if I help others to succeed, my own success will only be enhanced.”

Award-winning Author Susanne Lakin @CSLakin is the author of the seven-book fantasy series The Gates of Heaven. Also, Susanne is a freelance copyeditor and writing coach.

“…I love helping writers. My husband thinks it’s hilarious that I get to “criticize” people for a living. I’m not allowed to criticize him, so I guess that’s why it’s funny, right? Just kidding. I am really a great cheerleader for all my clients.

I love working with new authors who really don’t know much at all and helping them with the big learning curve. I spent two decades getting rejections on my novels because I had no one to mentor and help me, so I want to save my clients years of pain. It’s exciting to see a yucky first draft by a client, followed by a really terrific rewrite.

These new writers work hard, and when they apply what they learn, they really excel! It’s exciting for us both! I embrace their dreams and help them on the way, but I am tough and honest. One client I got together with at a conference shook his head and told everyone during introductions that ‘I kicked his butt.’ But he laughed.”

New York Times and USA Today Best Selling Author C.J. Lyons @cjlyonswriter is the author of sixteen Mystery & Thrillers and Romance novels.

“I actually don't have a blog for readers, but I wanted to give something back to other writers since so many writers helped me to get where I am, so I began the NoRulesJustWRITE.com site where I share everything I know and resources that have helped me along the way.”

Christopher Meeks @MeeksChris is a Prize winning novelist who writes serious and funny fiction. Also, Chris has an outstanding author information blog

“My blog is meant to be helpful. When I became a small publisher, so much of what I did was by trial and error. I like to give back if I can, especially if it means more great books are created. Because I teach college, I tend to take an instructor’s approach. There’s also the feeling that if I can do this, so can you.”

Phyllis Zimbler Miller @ZimblerMiller is an author of Mystery & Thrillers. Also, she is a Web marketer and writer of several book industry publications.

“I have always loved to tell people what to do -- by which I mean share helpful information.  So blogging is a natural for me.  But I admit that I am doing less blogging than I did five years ago as I expand the number of book writing projects that I am doing.  And much of my author blogging is sharing with others the information I have learned for myself.  Plus I am very disciplined and do not lose track of time on social media.  I think this ability goes back to my journalism training -- blocking out everything but the task at hand.”

Terry Odell @authorterryo is an author of romance, mystery & romantic suspense novels. She is also a publishing industry blogger and hosts the Booklover’s Bench, a website for readers.

“My goal with my blog [Terry's Place] is to provide information. I like to talk about the craft of writing, but there are times I'll talk about anything. I share recipes on Wednesday, and do virtual 'field trips' on Fridays. I also host guests once a week. My goal is to interact with people, help other writers, and keep my name visible. After all, I'm only writing about 2 books a year; I want to give people something else during all the other times.”

Author Melissa Bourbon Ramirez is a Mystery & Thrillers and Romance writer. She is the author of the Magical Dressmaking Mystery Series and the Lola Cruz Mysteries.

“I don’t really blog regularly. I guest on The Naked Hero occasionally and keep my site updated with writer’s tips and other interesting articles. I was a teacher by trade and also taught writing both online at Savvy Authors and at Southern Methodist University with their CAPE program, which has given me lots of experience with the Hero’s Journey and other craft topics. I love teaching, so that’s a big motivation in keeping that information relevant and accessible on my site. I want to pay it forward and help other writers in the way that I was helped when I first started.”

Crime and Horror Author Jade Varden @JadeVarden is the creator of the Deck of Lies book series.

“I love doing the blog, yes, but sometimes I think it prevents me from getting work done on my current book project (whatever it may be at the time). I started doing the Writing 101 posts because I was noticing mistakes that I was making, and I thought maybe I could help other writers not make them.”

Helping and Supporting Indie Authors

Some author’s blogging goals are to help Indie authors specially. Here is some of their comments.

Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar is an indie author. She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.

“My blog has evolved over time. I have discovered that Indies really and truly support each other. We are not each other's competition as much as each other’s support group. So I want my blog to be a resource for other writers and of course, raise awareness about my books. Because I want to make sure I present quality content and I also have a life outside of writing (including having a precocious toddler!), I only post content once a week on Mondays, and do an interview once a week, on Thursdays. I do much of it way in advance and work on it when I have time and when my toddler is napping.”

 Author Michelle Muckley @MichelleMuckley writes Mystery and Thrillers. She is the author of the DAWN Series.

 “Well, the blog has taken a bit of a backseat just lately. I try to use it as a tool to share my work and my thoughts about the publishing world, but at the same time, not make it all about my books. One thing that I like about the world of indie publishing is the willingness to share data with other writers, so I also try to put anything I think might be useful for other writers like stats after promos.

Time management is a major factor, and really it would be possible to never leave my desk and still never catch up. That is one reason I have let my blog take a backseat. Important updates still go out, but I try to focus my energies on my books.”

Author Billie Thomas @ChloeGetsAClue is a Mystery, Humor And Comedy, Chick Lit Series writer. Billie is the author of the Chloe Carstairs Mystery Series.

“I want to help promote mysteries, indie authors and my own series with my blog. In that order. I let my main character Chloe be the voice of Chloegetsaclue.com. She’s got her own distinct personality, so I let her live in the spotlight. I prefer to stay under the paparazzi’s radar. As for when I find the time… it’s a constant balancing act. I have a come apart every now and then but luckily those are getting fewer and further.”

Promote Other Authors

Some author blogs carry it one step further by promoting other author’s novels. Great, I get to chime in on this one.

Author Darcia Helle @DarciaHelle  writes Suspense Novels which includes the Michael Sykora series.

My primary goal with my blog is simply entertainment for readers. I don’t want it to be all about promoting my own books. That would be dull for me, so it would have to be dull for readers as well. I love promoting my fellow authors, particularly those whose work I enjoy and respect. And I like writing interview questions for them. It’s kind of an indulgence on my part, to be honest. Back before I was published, when I was “just” a reader, I’d always have questions after I finished a great book. Where did the idea come from? Why did the author make certain choices? Now I get to ask all those questions!

I also like to add content that is, as I categorize it, ‘General Nonsense’. This allows me to talk about my dogs, music I love, things that irritate me, and things that inspire me. And, sometimes, my writing process. I hope the mix keeps people interested and entertained and, occasionally, gives them something to think about.”

James Moushon @jimhbs is a Mystery and Espionage author. He also writes several industry blogs including eBook Author’s Corner, HBS Author's Spotlight, and HBS Mystery Readers Circle.

“I have several blogs devoted to helping other authors sell their novels, gain exposure and help them with the ever changing book publishing industry and its challenges. Here is a short description of them.

The blog’s purpose is to help authors get exposure in the book publishing industry. Each post includes the author’s bio, their contact information and picture plus a Q/A session and their book list with buy links. Also, I have a special feature of the Spotlight that showcases author’s new releases and promos. I have interviewed and showcased over 450 authors to date.

The HBS Mystery Reader's Circle provides information about the latest novels and what is coming next from a collection of Bestselling and Outstanding Authors in the Mystery, Thrillers, Historical Fiction and Crime genre.

The Corner is a collection of Author advice and studies including Marketing, Social Media and other major topics created to help writers in today’s ever changing world of book publishing.

All three blogs are designed to promote and help authors.”

Author Paul Glover @glovergroup is a writer, a Provacateur and a Coach & Change Agent dedicated to assisting individuals & organization navigate the mind fields of the WorkQuake™

“The purpose of any of my writing or speaking, including the blog, and my coaching is to share my thoughts and ideas about how to be better individually and organizational.  What good is accumulating decades of  information, knowledge and experience if I can’t share it with others to their benefit?”

Author Marla Madison @MarlaAMadison is the bestselling author of She's Not There. She writes Suspense and Mystery & Thriller novels.

“My blog is only new every two weeks now, down from weekly. I started out using it to give pointers and lament on my ongoing fight with my weight. Since then it’s become more about writing. I enjoy hearing from other writers. For me, a blog is one more way to build a following and practice your writing.”

Author Interviews

Several authors use author interviews in their blogs to give a helping hand. There is what they had to say.

New York Times Bestselling Author Caroline Leavitt @Leavittnovelist is a Literary Novelist. Caroline also is a writing teacher and book critic.

“I started the blog because I thought writers were supposed to have blogs, but then, I began to feel that just writing about myself was navel-gazing. I give it over to other writers. I did this first because, as a reviewer, I can't ethically review people I know, but I wanted to give my friends some ink.

Interviews seemed the perfect solution!  This also gave me a chance to seek out and talk to many writers I didn't know, whom I really admired. It was exciting! The blog also makes me feel as if I am building writers' community, something I dearly love. I'm not always successful in finding the time, but I try. I set up schedules for myself and I try to keep to them!”

Award-winning Author Michelle Muto @MichWritesBooks  is a YA Fantasy and  Horror Author. She is a Georgia peach, geek, writer and blogger.

“I blogged for a short time before I decided to jump into indie publishing. I decided to do author interviews because I don’t see my life as all that exciting. I don’t really see any uptick in sales, but hopefully, my fellow authors do.”

Author Paul Western-Pittard @Cerullean is a Thriller, Fantasy and Science Fiction author from Australia.

“If you’d have asked me this question prior to October, I would have said that the purpose of the blog was to provide samples of my work and promote my books. It’s changed now.

In October I began interviewing authors and learned that talking to and about other people is far more interesting than the (slightly) solipsistic focus on me and my own work. I’ll definitely continue to use the blog to provide updates and announcements - even a few more strange little stories, but the focus has definitely shifted to engaging more with the writing community…

Ultimately, I plan to expand the blog to become something of a resource to writers, including techniques, services, software etc.”

Author Guest Posts

Some author blogs feature other author’s posts. This allow their blog to get cross-action among followers and helps save preparation time.

Award-Winning Author Jade Kerrion @JadeKerrion  writes the DOUBLE HELIX series. Also, she writes a great blog featuring authors and writing.

“My blog evolved gradually. It started out a marketing tool, but then I realized I could only talk about myself for so long before getting bored. If I was getting bored with myself, surely readers were too.
So, I asked myself, what value could I create for others? Hosting authors was the obvious solution. The other was sharing the knowledge I’d gained in the process of writing, publishing, and marketing.

There is no shortage of ideas or contributors at this point. The other authors have really helped make my blog the vibrant place it is. Readers come to read about them and to find new and interesting books.

As for where I find the time…I don’t sleep. I do put in long hours, but more importantly, I’m organized and I’m fast. Those two traits help me accomplish more than one would think realistic or possible in the time I have. It’s been a massive learning curve for me, and every day, I’m finding new ways to streamline my processes and keep all the balls in the air.”

Author Cynthia Woolf @CynthiaWoolf  writes in the Sci-fi Romance and Western Romance genres. She is the author of the Matchmaker & Co. series

“I like to have guests on my blog most of the time. I may only blog myself once or twice a month. As to the time involved, I have insomnia, so I get in a lot more working time than most people. I work (writing, workshops and promo) about 18 hours a day.”

Special Help

Some authors devote their blog to helping special causes. Here are a few comments that fit into that category.

Author Teresa Burrell @teresaburrell is an author, lawyer and Child Abuse advocate who writes the The Advocate Series.

“My primary goal with my blog is to build awareness about child abuse. I think my books do that to--without being graphic. I figure if I can entertain people with a mystery and build awareness to a series social problem, I’ve given a little extra. I’ve worked with children most of my life and I’m appalled at what so many of these children have to endure. So, if I can help in even a small way, I’m thrilled.”

Author Jordyn Redwood @JordynRedwood is a Suspense writer/peds ER RN. She runs a medical blog for authors called Redwood's Medical Edge.

“Redwood’s Medical Edge is designed to help authors write medically accurate fiction so my primary goal is education. I’ve had many authors contact me for help with their stories and I often use their questions as content for the blog.”

Takeaways from Helping Others with Your Blog

       A.    Helping other authors, promote, publish, and gain exposure has its benefits.
B.     You can gain the synergy of cross-traffic between authors.
C.     Time management and commitment can be a problem.  Guest posts could be a solution.
D.    Helping others can indirectly help your sales.
E.     A blog helps you practice the art of writing.

Related posts

Follow me:

Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner
Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight

Check out the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novels: