Friday, November 28, 2014

Planning Ahead - LGBT Blog Hop!

I'd like to interrupt your holiday shopping chaos for a brief moment to present an easy marketing opportunity for those on a tight budget. It's still a couple of months away, but it never hurts to plan ahead. 

I'm organizing an LGBT Valentine's Day blog hop and this is your chance to sign up! All you need to do at this point is mark your calendar and subscribe to the email list. I'll contact everyone with a reminder in January.

Design by Lynley Wayne

Here's the plan. If you are LGBTQIA, write about characters that are, or just consider yourself an ally you're welcome to participate. Blog posts can promote an already released book, discuss a relevant LGBT topic, or announce an upcoming release. The only rule is it needs to involve LGBT characters and be something appropriate for the Valentine's Day theme...happy ending or not.

We're also doing a giveaway because you can't have a blog hop without presents. We'll be offering a free Kindle loaded with ebooks. You can sign up to help purchase the Kindle (basic model, $79 plus shipping), offer a free ebook, or do both. I'll be able to give you an estimate on the amount each person will need to chip in for the Kindle as the date gets closer, but I don't imagine it will be more than about $5 (USD). 

The blog hop will last a full week (Monday to Monday) so there is plenty of room for everyone and ample time for readers to hit each site. Sign up and feel free to spread the word! I now return you to your Black Friday recovery.

Design by Lynley Wayne

Catch up with the Saving Liam Series!
On sale at all major ebook retailers

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cover Reveal - Bare Threads, Saving Liam Book 4

Yes, Justin has a face! 

Those of you familiar with the Saving Liam series have probably noticed Liam is a bit of a cover hog. Well, that ends with book four. 

What? You didn't think a tease like Liam would let you see it all at once, did you? Stay tuned!

Check Out the Black Friday Sale!
Every book in the Saving Liam series is 25% off at All Romance
November 24 - 29

Friday, November 21, 2014

Work Smarter - It's 4:00. Do you know where your Twitter followers are?

Most of you already know how vital Twitter is to a good author platform. Some people post a few tweets a day when they have time. Some five or six times an hour. Some once an hour. How often you post doesn't matter as much as how many of your followers read those posts. 

Because it's an international site, figuring out when your followers are around is often a guessing game. Do you know where a majority of your followers live? Do you know which days and what time of day they are paying attention? With information pouring through Twitter like water through a fire hose it's easy for your tweets to get buried in the deluge. You can't tweet something and expect it to be visible to people an hour later, let alone twelve hours. If your followers follow hundreds or even thousands of other people they'll never see you unless they purposely look for you and if you guess incorrectly, you're wasting a lot of time tweeting things nobody sees.

Photo courtesy of Ian Sane

In order to be effective you need to stop guessing when your followers are online so you can focus your energy in the right direction at the right time. To do that, I use a website for Twitter business called SocialBro. It can do an array of things, most of which I don't use yet. The free account is pretty basic, but it works well enough to track all of my followers and tell me quite a bit about them, including what days of the week and hours of the day most of them are actually on Twitter. On the slow days and off hours I can focus my energy on other websites rather than tweeting to an empty room. Why waste the energy...or the tweets.

By working smarter, I save a couple of hours a week in marketing time without negatively impacting my presence on the site because I can tweet less yet reach more followers. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you. 

Available at all major ebook retailers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

LGBT Activists, ISIS Radicals, and an Angry Televangelist #LGBT

I saw an article yesterday about a statement Donnie Swaggart made comparing LGBT rights activists to ISIS radicals. Those of you alive in the 1980s probably recognize that name from the role his father played in the meltdown that nearly destroyed televangelism in the U.S. Such a comparison is why the evangelical community is so well known for melodrama! Because they also understand the blow back caused by unnecessarily inflammatory statements, the ministry that owns the video has since taken it down. 

I'm not going to argue how far out of line Mr. Swaggart's statement is. It's based on his personal experience and I haven't been in his shoes so, I can't say whether he's being a drama queen or reacting with understandable anger to some harsh bit of vitriol thrown in his face. From what I've heard, the fight is a little intense in Texas right now on both sides.

Photo courtesy of Rob Chandanais

What I can say is his statement proves my point about those screaming the loudest representing the fewest. I know a couple of people in the LGBTQIA community who have become militant and harsh. They attack like constipated weasels over the slightest thing and, in my opinion, serve little purpose in the fight. They spend as much time arguing with fellow activists as they do those on the other side of the battle, alienating everyone they meet. 

Thankfully, they are the minority just as Mr. Swaggart's comparison probably resonates with very few on his side. Most of us are reasonable a good deal of the time. We haven't seen these tremendous strides in rights and recognition over the last several years because of threats and violence. We got this far by working within the system to change the law...or in many cases, create a law. Stonewall served its purpose back in the day, but we don't have to work nearly that hard to make our voices heard anymore. A rumored report of a gay bashing makes international news before the story is confirmed anywhere other than Facebook. (To the transgender community: don't worry. We'll get you there!)

Most activists don't fit Swaggart's description just like most Christians don't fit the description offered by the lunatic LGBT militants who email death threats to conservatives. A majority of us are average people working on both sides to undo hundreds of years of ignorance and figure out where dearly held religious beliefs fit in the new puzzle. Those who choose to slap each other around using increasingly vicious and slanderous statements are welcome to duke it out in the corner while the rest of us keep working.

Get your copy today!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Work Smarter - Where Are You? #writing #marketing

If you're like me, you have accounts on a gaggle of social sites. Most authors accumulate friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest, and circles on Google +. We spend hours setting up profiles to make those pages look professional, right? So why are you keeping them a secret?

Picture by Beatnik Photos

I share a lot of stories and blog posts from other people's sites and I can't tell you how much time I waste trying to find their Twitter or Facebook links so I can share them along with the story. If you have a blog (and you should) look at your last post. How hard do readers have to search to find a link to your profile on other sites? If they found your post by accident could they find you in other places on purpose? If not, you're missing chances to connect to readers.

Don't play hide and seek with sales opportunities. Make the buttons to your social sites obvious enough that a reader scanning the page two minutes before bed can find it despite the kids screaming and dogs barking in the background. One click is the difference between them connecting with you again later and them closing the browser window and forgetting they ever saw your name.

If there is no place on your blog to add such a thing, make it a habit to manually include the links at the bottom of each post. 

Catch up with the Saving Liam series today!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Dreaded "S" Word. #LGBTKids

It's November. If you live in the northern hemisphere that means winter and where there is winter, there's frosty cold white stuff. Snow has already coated parts of the east coast. The snowboarders are happy. The rest of us...not so much.

Photo by chuddlesworth 

Consider this a gentle reminder. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are rushing toward us like Olympians hurtling down a luge track. While you're picking out presents and burrowing through sale racks, keep in mind that thousands of unwanted kids will spend every snow-filled night from now until spring on the street on the wrong side of the double-pane window. 

We've been over this before. Most shelters are about as LGBT friendly as the parents who tossed them out on the street in the first place. There is no guarantee these kids will find a warm bed. Pick up an extra pair of gloves, a ski cap, some hand warmers, thermal underwear, even a package of lip balm will help. Find the organization that caters to homeless kids in your city and send them a care package. If you shudder at the thought of braving the post office, look the charity up online and see if they have an Amazon wish list. Most do these days and Amazon will do the packing and shipping for you.

These are our kids freezing this winter, the latest generation of our rainbow community. Let them know somebody cares.

Catch up with the Saving Liam series today!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Work Smarter - Amazon Author Pages #marketing #tips #writing

In my last post I talked about the growing competition for visibility on the bookshelves. The perfect example of a publishing tidal wave is due to hit in less than two months. Nearly every author is poised for a release on December 26th to take advantage of all the ereaders and gift cards given as presents. 

The statistics say that on average, a new book is published on Amazon every five minutes. Imagine how big that number will get when publishers and authors alike are all targeting the same day. It will be the online equivalent of Black Friday at the malls in the States: all chaos and sensory overload. 

Photo by Alexander Kesselaar

How do you direct readers to your book in that kind of traffic? By setting the right platform now. I'm not talking about adding yet another task to your daily checklist. I know there are only so many hours an author can devote to marketing without choking off the reason they're marketing in the first place. That's why you have to work smarter. 

For example, how many of you have an Amazon author page on Author Central? If you have a book on Amazon you'd better have your hand up. An author page makes you look like you know what you're doing even if you don't. Perception is reality, right? As long as you appear to have your act together the readers will never know the difference. So, if you don't already have an Author Central page, get one!

For those who already have one, how many of you know that an author page on is only visible to US readers? There are four separate Author Central websites and they are blind to one another. Ideally, you should have four pages: Author Central UK, Author Central DE (Germany), Author Central FR (France), and Author Central US. 

Once you get the first one done the rest are easy. Just copy and paste what you have on Author Central US to the other pages and then re-link your books. A few minutes of your time and you suddenly have a greater professional presence than you had when you woke up this morning.

Stay tuned for more Work Smarter tips!

Available now at all major ebook retailers!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

There is no excuse. #writing #marketing

I know you've heard the book marketing promises about "fool proof" plans and "guaranteed" techniques for selling thousands of copies. The ones where you publish on Friday and are rolling in cash by Sunday night. It's a nice idea, but let's be real. Writing isn't a 'get rich quick' scheme. For most of us it's a constantly shifting system that generates a decent return only after years of effort. Of course, it's much harder to sell a marketing book with that for a title.  

I've tried a few of the guaranteed methods and talked to authors who have tried others. After more than a year of discussions and presentations and pod casts I've reached a conclusion. There is indeed a guaranteed method for marketing success and it's very simple. 

You have to put in the time. 

I don't know many authors who enjoy it, but I do know that no excuse will change the rules. Complaints about limited time and limited funds won't miraculously produce shortcuts. You either do it, pay someone to do it for you, or your sales will suffer. It really is that simple. 

I read an article recently that said 78% of books fail to sell more than 100 copies during the life of the book. I can believe that. There are a lot of authors out there and the competition gets more intense every year. Traditional publishing houses used to be the gatekeepers. Books didn't hit the market without someone's stamp of approval thus limiting the number of titles. As indie publishing gains popularity, the number of books pouring onto Amazon increases and we all face the daunting task of making our offering visible in the deluge. That will take more than a snappy title and a professional cover. It takes an organized business plan and at least a rudimentary knowledge of marketing techniques.

It's a depressing truth that we have to sacrifice writing time to market what we've written, but it's a fact authors can't afford to ignore. Writing the book isn't enough. We also have to sell it. I guess that's the downside of the Indie Era. It's easier to get your book on the shelf and harder to get people to realize it's there. As the competition increases, success will go to authors who really do see their writing career as a business and their book as a product.

You have your writing life nailed down but what about your business plan? Have you plotted your two-, five-, and ten-year goals or are you leaving your success to chance and hoping for the best?

Catch up with the Saving Liam series! Available now.