Upcoming events

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Hey all, I have a lot of events going on next week – an event bonanza as I’ve been calling it LOL. Where you can find me:

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What I’m reading, writing, and watching this month

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Okay friends, it’s been a while since I’ve done a post like this. My apologies.

What I’m reading:

  • House of Bradbury by Nicole Meier. It’s women’s fiction about a woman who buys Ray Bradbury’s old house in southern California. It’s a great read and can I give a shout out to Nicole here who graciously answered some questions for me recently about her publishing experience! Such a lovely person.
  • My Beautiful Life by Mina Dobic, a true story about a woman who cured her cancer by eating a macrobiotic diet. Fascinating. Thanks, hubby for the book recommendation!
  • Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, contemporary YA about a girl who’s forced to live with her stepmother across the country. Just got this for Kindle on sale for $1.99.

What I’m writing:

What I’m watching:

  • We are binge watching Caribbean Life at my house. It is one of my greatest ambitions in life to live by the ocean one day. When I’m by the ocean I feel like I’m home!
  • I am sad and relieved that the first season of This is Us is over. Tuesday night has been my weekly cry session since this show started. I think it’s because the show feels too much like real life!

Help my book get on Goodreads lists

Hi all,

I have a favor to ask that will only take a few seconds of your time. If you are a member of Goodreads would you consider adding One Night to these reading lists (links follow below):

Teen Reads for Adults

Hawaii

YA Road-trip novels

If you like John Green

Favourite Fictional Friendships

Adding One Night to these lists would greatly help me in spreading the word about my novel. Since I’m the author I am unable to add my own books, but if you could help that would be awesome!!

Thanks 🙂

One Night: Bonus book club content

  1. Thompson has a special place in his heart for Cap’n Crunch cereal. Make these tasty marshmallow treats using the cereal and share with your book club, friends, family, or just make them for yourself!
  2. The 2013 movie, The Way Way Back, shares a similar premise to One Night. Watch the movie and discuss how it differs from Thompson & Johnny’s story. Are the two projects making the same point or different ones?
  3. The idea of fate or destiny is prevalent in One Night. What is the novel’s take on these themes?

One-Night-Cover

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Marketing strategies for indie authors: what works and what doesn’t

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In the last few months I’ve tested a number of marketing tactics to promote my YA novel, One Night. I will continue to update this post with results in the future. Below is my analysis of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing indie or self-published novels. Traditionally published authors may find this post helpful, too.

MARKETING EFFORTS THAT ARE WORTH MY TIME

Email newsletter

Details: Once a month I email my subscribers with updates on writing, what I’m reading, contests, and recipes. Each month the content varies and I don’t include all of the above every month. But I do make sure to send them something.

Does it work in terms of selling books? Yes, I have seen sales as a direct result of emailing my newsletter subscribers. My list is small, but becomes more powerful as it grows.

Is it worth my time? YES

Other paid advertising

Details: I have tested Free Kindle Books and Tips, Ereader News Today, and BookBub (international deal only).

Does it work in terms of selling books? Yes. I saw the most sales from Bookbub – 148. The results for FKBT & Ereader News Today were dismal, at 7 sales each.

Is it worth my time? Bookbub is. The rest are not.

Blog tours

Details: I booked a blog tour through YA Bound Book tours.

Does it work in terms of selling books? No.

Is it worth my time? Yes. I received a lot of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and would do it again.

NetGalley

Details: I signed up for a one-month slot in the NetGalley co-op through Patchwork Press. It was a steal at $50 compared to the regular NetGalley rate.

Does it work in terms of selling books? No.

Is it worth my time? Yes. I got a number of good reviews on Goodreads and exposure on blogs.

Live events

Details: I’ve done an in-store book signing and have also participated in a Local Author Fair.

Does it work in terms of selling books? Yes. Sales were not through the roof but they did happen. For the people I didn’t sell to, I made sure to give them a postcard or magnet with my book’s info on it. Going forward I will not do a signing where it is just me. I met a lot more people when I partnered with other authors. Plus it’s more fun. I will do speaking events, however, or other events with a guaranteed audience.

Is it worth my time? Yes.

Telling everyone I know about the book

Details: When I launched my book I emailed everyone I knew – friends, family members, work colleagues, old teachers.

Does it work in terms of selling books? Yes. For example, my sister posted on Facebook about the book as well which led to an immediate sale.

Is it worth my time? Yes.

Goodreads’ giveaway

Details: I have given away two copies of my book via two Goodreads’ giveaways.

Does it work in terms of selling books? Not sure.

Is it worth my time? Yes. It’s easy to set up, gets eyeballs on the book, and the only cost is postage to mail the book to the winner

Posting on social media

Details: I try to be active once a day on Twitter. I prefer Twitter over other networks. I also post about once or twice a week on Instagram. I post on Facebook maybe every two weeks.

Does it work in terms of selling books? Not sure.

Is it worth my time? Yes. I think this is a long-term sales play and a good way to connect with readers.

MARKETING EFFORTS THAT MIGHT BE WORTH MY TIME

Library outreach

Details: I called many libraries to try and schedule events/promote my book. This did not work. Calls were either not returned or a million excuses were given for why they couldn’t help. What I tried next was walking into the library and donating a copy of my book.

Does it work in terms of selling books? No.

Is it worth my time? Maybe. My book is now available in a few libraries. One can only hope that it is being checked out.

Guest blogging

Details: In the past few months I’ve guest blogged at Jane Friedman and Teen Librarian Toolbox.

Does it work in terms of selling books? No.

Is it worth my time? Not sure. I think this is a good way to get my name and book cover out there to a good audience, but the referral traffic to my own site hasn’t been huge.

Blogging on my own site

Details: I try to write a new blog post once a month.

Does it work in terms of selling books? Hard to tell.

Is it worth my time? Not sure. What it does do is give me something to post on Twitter. I get a lot of referral traffic to my site from Twitter when I share helpful blog posts.

MARKETING EFFORTS THAT ARE NOT WORTH MY TIME

Facebook ads

Details: I have tested spending less than $100 in Facebook advertising.

Does it work in terms of selling books? No, not for me. I have targeted ruthlessly, getting as specific as fans of John Green who live in specific zip codes, specific ages, and times of day. It leads to clicks but not sales. I suppose if I had a budget of $100K it might possibly work, but if it’s not working on a small scale I don’t think it will work on a big scale.

Is it worth my time? No

Emailing random book bloggers

Details: For a few months, I have reached out to as many book bloggers as possible when I have time.

Does it work in terms of selling books? No.

Is it worth my time? No. While some bloggers I’ve emailed have reviewed the book, it’s less than 1% of them. I have wasted way more time emailing bloggers than the results are worth.

Paid publication reviews

Details: I signed up for a paid review from Midwest Book Review & Portland Book Review.

Does it work in terms of selling books? No.

Is it worth my time? No. Though I got some decent blurbs to put on my web site and sales pages I don’t think this was a good use of my time and/or money.

Releasing a nonfiction ebook

Details: I put out a guide to self-publishing, for free on Amazon, iBooks, etc. and included a preview chapter of One Night at the end.

Does it work in terms of selling books? No.

Is it worth my time? No. I have seen this strategy work for other authors, but it did not work for me.

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Five Keys to Successful Author Events

Or, what I learned from my second event as an author 🙂

This past weekend I participated in a Local Author Fair at a nearby library. I learned a lot and wanted to share these tips in the hopes of helping other writers.

  1. Bring a buddy who is good at pimping your book. In my case this was my mother. She talked my novel up to anyone and everyone who walked into the room and touted my book to the other 14 authors in attendance. I don’t know if that led to any sales but at least she helped spread the word.
  2. Make sure your table looks amazing. Some of my fellow authors had great books, but their displays didn’t convey as much. I brought a tablecloth, giant print out of my cover made at Fedex Office, magnets, postcards, an easel to prop my book on. Your table needs to sell your book. author-fair-photo
  3. Network with other writers. I shared a table with the lovely Lina Chern, a crime writer, and basically interviewed her at length about her publishing experience when not selling my book. I also grabbed a business card from another author who said she might know a good critique partner for me.
  4. A more general pitch is better when trying to sell your book. At the start of the fair when someone stopped by the table and asked what my book was about, I gave them a blow-by-blow of the plot. Heartbroken teen boy meets Elvis impersonator and quirky friendship and adventure ensues. After I said this, a lot of people gave me a blank look. When I generalized my description, though, to: “It’s a YA novel but it’s not too angsty and it has a sense of humor and it’s set in Hawaii” I got a WAY better response.
  5. Remember that it’s one sale at a time. It’s easy to get discouraged when a lot of people walk through the room and only a fraction of them actually purchase. The hope is some of the readers who do buy your book like it and tell all their friends about it. And when a teen girl stops by, reads your back cover and says, “This sounds sick!!” the struggle will be worth it.

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Authors, if you have any other tips I’d love to hear them via comments 🙂

2017 Writing Resolutions

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I’m not usually a resolution kind of person since I’ve had a goal list since I was eight, lol, but I do find it helpful to set writing resolutions for the year. Here are my writing resolutions for 2017:

  1. Find a reliable critique partner. Because of my schedule I am not typically able to meet critique partners in person, however, I am very responsive to email. Even though I have connected with great writing partners over the years, none of those people have been able to commit to more than one project. Or more than one week. Even if all hell is breaking loose in my personal life I still manage to find some time to write and/or edit work. As such, I am hoping for the same from a potential critique partner. I would love to find one who doesn’t fall off the face of the earth.
  2. Produce an audiobook of One Night. A reader asked me recently if I had an audiobook of One Night out. I don’t yet, but think it’s a great idea and will be fun to execute.
  3. Secure a traditional publishing contract. I enjoy independent publishing. I love working with an editor, designer, and managing my own business. But a traditional publishing contract and the distribution power that comes with it would make my life so much easier. I’m still dreaming of New York City validation and am working on getting it with The Other Side of the World.
  4. Finish current work in progress, a new YA novel. This will be done within the next month or two, if I continue at my current pace.
  5. Attend at least one writer’s workshop or conference. I’m a firm believer in working on the craft of writing and find professional workshops are always helpful.
  6. Start another novel. I may be dreaming on this one, but I think it’s doable.
  7. Accept praise more graciously. As a writer who’s been rejected more times than I can count, it’s still hard for me to take a compliment. When people tell me they’ve read One Night and really liked it my usual response is to mumble, “Thanks,” look at the ground, and change the subject immediately. Even though I know I’m a good writer there are parts of me that doubt myself. I would like to change that in 2017.

If you have any writing goals for this year I’d love to hear them! Feel free to comment on this post 🙂

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2016 Writing Accomplishments

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As writers it’s easy to focus on what we didn’t accomplish in the last year. With so many books being released and the amount of competition it’s sometimes hard to appreciate the small victories. Here’s a rundown of my wins from 2016. When I’m feeling unmotivated in 2017 I’ll look back at this post for inspiration!

2016 writing accomplishments:

I hope you all had a nice holiday and wonderful new year in 2017!

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Monthly update

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What I’m reading:

  • Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. Had the pleasure of meeting her recently at a book signing.
  • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. Love his stand up comedy and really enjoying his book about dating in modern times.
  • With Malice by Eileen Cook. It’s about a young girl who can’t remember something awful that happened on her class trip to Italy.

What I’m watching:

  • Superstore. OMG this show. Thompson in One Night works at Kmart. If he were a real person I’m sure he could relate to this comedy!
  • This is Us. Haven’t had a go-to tear-jerker show in a few years. This is definitely it, lol. This show is a little too much like real life.
  • Narcos (Season 2). This show about Pablo Escobar and his domination of Columbia is kinda violent, but compelling stuff.

What I’m writing:

  • New book description has been posted. So excited about this YA novel! More details coming soon.
  • A new YA novel set in Serbia (mostly). I’m about a third of the way into it. I went to Serbia over the summer and got a lot of inspiration! Plus I’m Serbian by marriage 🙂

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