Thursday, May 31, 2012

Turning on the Light Bulb

Since I told people that I will be writing a science fiction, fantasy novel titled Heaven’s Fate; people always ask me: how do I get my ideas and where did the idea for this particular book come from.

Well, from an early age I have always been interested in artwork and cartoons. From that point on I have sort of lived two separate lives; one in my own little world and the other amongst the normal people in the real world. In class, I routinely daydreamt about characters fighting each other and magnificent and grotesque monsters clashing. After a while my head became crowded with creating storylines and worlds for those characters to populate and I started writing things down. This particular idea started out in graphic novel format while I was in college, which was nearly a decade ago (I know that I am dating myself here, but oh well). Although the names for these characters have changed from initial idea conception to hardcover and ebook execution, the storyline, more or less still remains the same. I came up with the idea for the storyline at a time when I was lost in a world of Japanese animation and when Dragon Ball Z was all the rage. Although, Heaven’s Fate initial creation idea drew heavily from anime, its transformation into a YA, science fiction, fantasy novel had to undergo several stages that every book goes through such as world building, creating laws for magic use, and overall character, plot, and storyline development that make any entertainment property – whether it is a movie, book, or tv show – a full-fledged product for human consumption.

I get a lot of my ideas from the randomness of life, as well as other random readings or television shows. Some of my favorite programs to watch are documentaries and specials on the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, etc. Really any show, book, or random sight can insight my imagination and my creativity takes over from there. Anything that sparks a thought in my mind I tend to write down, either in a notebook or my iphone’s notepad app and then create characters and storylines from that point forward. Then I ask myself a fundamental question that I believe all writers should ask: ‘Why is my character doing what they are doing.’ I feel that if you can answer that question then you potentially have the makings of a great story.

But for Heaven’s Fate specifically, I always wanted to do one of those series where you have a guy who is the chosen one; similar to so many other fantasy tales out there (ie: Robert Jordan’s – ‘A Wheel of Time’ series and Frank Herbert’s - ‘Dune’ series or even the movie Star Wars) where a young man is destined to follow fate and save the world and so on. I wanted to do one of these series because I felt as though I could do it better than all of the other books and movies out there. Not only that but because those other titles have inspired me. When you ask the question, ‘what if’ and go from there you will be surprised what you can come up with. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

10 ways to market your book by Desiree Finkbeiner

For an author, getting published is an accomplishment to be marked as one of life’s greatest milestones. But what most authors don’t seem to have a handle on, is how to market their work. Writing is the easy part, and getting published isn’t terribly hard either… given that the writer finds a publisher who recognizes marketable quality in their writing.

But let’s face it, most authors are going to be ignored by the huge publishing houses that can afford to assign a personal publicist for each author. Independent publishing and small presses are finding it harder and harder to earn their keep in the highly competitive market of literary entertainment. Writing and publishing is the easy part, but how do you compel people to buy your book?

I earned a degree in commercial art with a strong emphasis in business and marketing. But the market changes on a daily basis, and the virtual world is transforming the industry by leaps and bounds. What are some ways you can get your book into the hands of readers?

First and foremost, once you’re published, don’t expect your book to sell itself, and don’t expect your small press to do everything for you. They simply can’t. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably like me, eager to make your writing career a success, and willing to do your part to make sure you see more than a few digits on your bottom line.

Here are 10 marketing ideas that may help.

1.      If no one knows who you are, no one will buy your book. Get out there! The world has gone to social media so that’s where you need to be too. So get off your rump and start opening as many social media profiles as possible. Luckily, many of them have applications that link together so you spend less time updating and more time writing. Example: You can link your Facebook fan page to your Twitter account so it automatically reposts everything from your fan page to your Twitter account. There are also software applications available that link multiple social media accounts in much the same way, including rss feeds from your blog to auto post to other sites like Goodreads and Amazon Author Central etc. You’ve got to get your updates to your readers, wherever they are online. Since everyone favors different sites, it’s important to use as many as possible.

2.      Once you get your social networking accounts set up, what do you do with them and how can you make them effective marketing tools without coming off as ‘spammy’? It’s as simple as this: engage your followers. Try to avoid plugging your book in every post you publish. People will get bored with it and unfollow your page when it becomes redundant. Give them something interesting to “like”. Offer content that caters to their interests and you’ll keep them coming back to see what’s new.

3.      That being said, how to you get fans and followers? The first thing you can do is invite friends and family to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ your page. That will give you a start, but you’ll run out of new likes really fast if you’re not actively seeking to grow your network. First off, DON’T SPAM. It’s bad cyber karma, and people will block you if do it. Instead, as mentioned above, offer something to people that compels them to follow. Some examples: free giveaways for the first fan to send 10 new likes to your page…. And let’s not forget the golden rule! Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Follow other people’s pages. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to follow you back because you followed them first. Remember, just because they may not support you directly, doesn’t mean their likes don’t matter. On the internet, Viral exposure is important. The more feeds and lists your content appears on, the more new faces you will be exposed to through extended networks.

4.       Blogging. Keeping a blog is a great way to scratch the backs of others while growing your own exposure. Remember, if you seek to help others first, it always come back around to work in your favor too. By offering guest posts or guest features on your blog, you are not only keeping your blog interesting for your current followers, but you’re increasing potential traffic because whoever you feature may promote the feature, sending new readers to your blog. They might take the time to browse your site while they’re there, especially if you update your blog regularly with new content. A catchy banner ad for your book or product at the top of your blog is a great way to increase awareness without being pushy. Viewers who are visiting for your guest post, will also see whatever else you have posted in the blog. So make your banners attractive yet subtle enough to not seem like a shameless self-promotion campaign.

5.      Ad campaigns. I know, I know. Your budget sucks. Mine too. But some times ad campaigns are worth the investment. Most social networks have their own banner ad campaigns available where you can set your budget and ‘per click’ price. I’ve run ads on Facebook, Goodreads, Google Adwords, eBay and a few others. I saw the best results when I stuck to a strict target market. The more you can narrow your target market down, the more effective your advertising campaign will be. So if you’ve only got $25 to spend, you’ve got to make sure the right people are clicking your ads. By assuming that your Paranormal Fantasy novel would get the best exposure by selecting all age groups in all regions, you’re making an expensive mistake. Try limiting it to women readers, age appropriate demographics, within regions where English is the dominant language, and you’ll reduce the risk of some 12 yr old boy who likes action figures and puppies from clicking on your steamy romance and running up your bill.

6.      Book Trailers. Take it from the movie industry, movie trailers sell movie tickets! Book trailers sell books! Human beings are the most responsive when you can appeal to their senses. A good book trailer stimulates visual and audible response whereas reading and banner ads are only visual. More information and emotion can be conveyed in a 1 or 2 minute trailer than by reading a synopsis alone. It’s less work for the reader, and more compelling. If you don’t have a book trailer, you’re missing out on a vital marketing opportunity to increase book sales.

7.      Blog tours. A blog tour is a virtual tour designed to do one thing: increase exposure. Each blog you visit has its own loyal followers that are potential customers. Again, by offering content to other blog that interest readers, you’re engaging readers. Most importantly, offer something that will benefit your blog host whether is be a helpful guest post on a topic that benefits their readers, or offering a giveaway in exchange for a feature on your new book. People love free stuff, and bloggers love interesting content, so why not help each other out?

8.      Book reviews. Never underestimate the power of reviews. They sell books to other readers who may be hard to impress, and nothing sells product better than customer testimonials. If you’re having trouble getting your readers to post reviews, offer them an incentive: free review copies of your book, for example, or sneak peak excerpt from the next installment in a series etc. You’ll need as many reviews as possible posted to Amazon, Goodreads and other sites catering to books. Also, reviews on blogs may compel new readers to buy your book as well.

9.       Pass-along cards. Business cards, flyers or post cards. Always have them on your person. You never know who you’re going to meet when you’re out and about. Those word-of-mouth one-on-one personal contacts are golden opportunities to grow your following. It could be as simple as striking up a conversation with the clerk at the grocery store. Build relationships with the people in your community. It’s always best first to let the people you meet talk about themselves first, be genuinely interested in what they have to say so they will feel that you’ve put value on their experiences, then tell them it was wonderful meeting them and give them a pass along card which promotes your book/social page/website with a polite smile. Chances are, they will take the time to visit your site and check out your content because you took the time to visit with them. I’ve sold a lot of books with this method, and they will in turn, tell their friends about you.\

10.     Free Samples. You’ve seen them, the little sample tables at grocery stores that give away free food samples to get you hooked on their product. Free samples sell products, it’s proven, and it sells books too. Offer free review copies to readers and bloggers who will publish reviews online. Their incentive to read your book is because it was free, then they will tell their readers and friends about how much they liked your book, which will result in sales. You can also post free excerpt on blogs or forums to get people interested in the story. People are more likely to buy the book if they can sample it first. Free book giveaway promotions also work. Have you ever been to Amazon to download free ebooks from the free kindle page? Those downloads not only raise your Amazon ranks, they result in reviews and getting your book into circulation, which results in more sales. So don’t be afraid to give it away, especially if you have a series. Try giving book #2 away for free. People who download it will have to purchase book #1 to get up to speed on book #2. Or giveaway book #1 to get people hooked on the series. If they liked it, they will come back and buy the other installments.

Author Bio:

Desiree Finkbeiner attained a bachelor's degree in Graphic Design from Missouri Southern State University (2006) with a heavy background in business, marketing, music and fine art-- She was heavily involved in campus affairs and served actively in several committees focusing on campus entertainment and events.

She performed with musical acts/bands in rock and electronic genres, released seven studio albums, performed in 11 states and has written hundreds of songs. Her band, Carbon Star, was a finalist for VH1's "Bands on the Run" reality TV show in 2000. Then she performed with Pointy Teeth until finally leaving the music industry for the quiet life.

She had a scholarship for acting in college though she was not a theater major. Although she no longer performs or focuses on musical/performing arts, she has chosen to shift her talents to other areas that are more conducive to raising a family.

Continuing education is a constant adventure for Desiree with topics of interest ranging from civil and corporate law, history, political conspiracy, homeopathic medicine and spiritual healing. She prefers to read non-fiction, especially on topics that educate and broaden her perspectives on controversial issues.

With thousands of completed art works in her archives, most of which appear in private collections worldwide, Desiree hopes to focus more on publishing, marketing and licensing her work so she can leave a legacy behind.