Saturday, August 30, 2014

How Being Traditionally Published Has Made Me Lazy

My publisher recently implemented a new PR policy that, at first, put me in a really bad mood. I won't go into specifics, but it has to do with just how much they are growing and the changes they have to make in the kind of publicity they can offer their authors. Now, don't get me wrong. They still offer more personalized attention than almost any other small publisher I've ever heard of. But they've studied the market and came to the conclusion that certain types of PR just weren't really working anymore- one of them being the blog tour. (That's been taken as gospel in a lot of circles, actually.) I spent a couple of hours being bummed about this before I had one of those realizations that feels like it should be accompanied by thunder and lightning.

Being traditionally published has made me lazy.

It's not that my publisher is offering less PR. Nope, it's more that they offer so much more than I was used to as an Indie, that I let myself just slip into the comfortable flow of, "Well, CQ handles that. Right?" And they do handle a lot of stuff- no way could I afford BookBub and NetGalley, just to name two. But I used to do so much more promotion and outreach when it was just me. It hit me that I actually miss it. It's not just about sales. It's about feeling more plugged in to the book world I love so much.

After the panic subsided, and after my epiphany, I sat down to look at what I was doing then vs. what I'm doing now, and I identified three things that I can slip back into, relatively pain free. Actually, there are way more than three, but I cut off the tip of my finger with a potato peeler the other day and typing has become very clunky. So three it shall be, for now. Let me start with my two golden rules of the writing trade:

Read, read, read
Promote unto others as you would have promoted unto you

These lead into these specific marketing strategies I used to do but stopped because, well, I got too comfortable:

1. Visit and interact with book bloggers. This should be an easy one. You're a reading fool, right? Because writers need to be readers too. We must stay abreast of what's current in our field. We must learn by seeing what works, and what doesn't. I don't even know how many times I've heard some variant of, "If you don't read, you'll never be a writer." My take on it is that writers are just readers who run out of books now and then and have to make up their own. But the point is: there is a whole universe of websites run by people who read like mad fiends, too! And they are nice enough to write reviews, have discussions, and even contests about the very same books you are probably reading. Why not reach out to them? Chime in about a book you've read that they're featuring. Pop up every now and then, even if it's just to say, "That looks interesting. I'll have to check it out." Spread the book love, people! And when the time comes to promote your book, those sites that share your interests will probably be willing to promote you too. After all, you have books in common, and odds are good a book you write will fit right in.

2. Start a blog of your own. At the very least you need a landing page and a FAQ section so people can actually find your books. But for me a blog is a valuable personal and commercial tool. I use it to communicate with readers, but I also look at it as a way to become a better writer. This little blog o' mine is where I practice. Sometimes my entries are quick and dirty, and sometimes I sit down and pour effort into what I hope will be original, thought-provoking content. And sometimes, those kinds of posts have actually turned into longer articles, stories- that kind of thing. My blog also autofeeds into my Goodreads page, my Amazon author page, Twitter, Facebook, and more. It's like a feeder site for all other social media platforms. I realize blogging is not for everyone, but for me, it's the single most important social media tool in my arsenal. 

3. This is more a variation of #1: Reach out to and review other authors in your genre. This is just another way not just of networking, but of staying on top of your field. You don't even have to stick to the genre you write, I suppose. I tend to stick to YA and paranormal because that's what I like. The important thing, though, is to reach out and make connections. Frequently, especially in the case of Indie authors or small presses, they might even review you in return, or give a shout out when you've got a book coming out. This is not the kind of review trading Amazon has banned. Amazon, in fact, welcomes reviews from other authors. The only stipulation is that 1. a reviewer cannot live under the same roof as the author and 2. a reviewer must not receive any financial compensation for the book in question. "Financial compensation" means editor, illustrator, etc., NOT donating ARCs or review copies, although if you get one of those you must disclose it.

As I wrote above, there are many more than these, and hopefully my finger will heal enough to write more soon. I'd like to leave you with a couple of questions: what book blogs do you love? Can you recommend some for me? What are you reading that makes you want to connect with the author? I'm asking because, as I've said multiple times, I'm feeling out of touch, and your insight via comment section would be greatly appreciated! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

On My Bookshelf: Past, Present, and Future

1. The Past: Throne of Glass
by Sarah J. Maas

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It came into my life at the perfect moment. I had just gone through a dry spell as far as reading goes. It seems I couldn't finish anything- not even Melissa Marr, and everyone knows of my undying love for Melissa. Throne of Glass has action, adventure, romance, and my favorite thing of all: a kick butt heroine who isn't afraid to still be a girl. The main character loves beating all the other assassins in the King's Tournament as much as she loves shopping. She's smart and snarky as hell, too. So this was a real win- a steak dinner after weeks of Weight Watchers frozen entrees.

2. The Present: These Broken Stars
by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

I'm just getting into this book, and I already love it. Two people from very different backgrounds crash land together and must help each other to survive. Maybe not the most original plot ever, right? But where I was expecting another opposites attract/ bad boy v. good girl dynamic, I got complex characters trying to survive some really fantastic world building. The charcaters are nuanced, too, with shades of gray to their personalities rather than flat polarization. Engrossing, so far.

3. The Future: DeadBlood
by Carolyn McCray

This is the second book in McCray's Praxis collection. HeartsBlood was the first, and I read and loved it a long time ago. Like, three years ago or so. :( I've been anxiously awaiting the sequel, and McCray surprised me by putting out an entire collection- all three books in the trilogy, plus bridge short stories in between. I loved the first book so much, and I'm alread
y loving what I've scanned of book two. McCray's heroine is smart, driven, and not a super model, which is always refreshing. Her magical system is one of the simplest and smartest I've ever encountered- equally refreshing, that. And there's a sexy book boyfriend to round it all out.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Review: Crossing By Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Favorite quote: "I’m a white Midwestern girl who looks like every other white Midwestern girl. Sometimes this seriously bums me out and sometimes I’m glad I’m not THE MOST BEAUTIFUL because it makes me try harder at being funny and charismatic and outgoing. "

I wish I hadn't waited so long to read this book. It's one of the most original reads in New Adult Romance I've run across. This was so refreshing in a genre that has become formulaic. This is a novel about accepting love in whatever form it appears, even if (or especially if) that love challenges our comfort zone.

In a lot of ways, Liam and Dani seem made for each other. He makes her feel secure, accepted, and loved, and we can tell from early on that she does the same for him. Liam's attractive, confident, and sexy- someone Dani fears is out of her league. But he's really into her, treating her with respect and obvious physical attraction. It was great to see Liam help Dani grow in confidence. But there is one hell of a p[lot twist, and just like it did Dani's, Benefiel's twist pushed my comfort level quite a bit. It forced me to consider just how far I'd go for the guy I loved.

Crossing helped me realize I'd go pretty far.

The writing is enjoyable, as well. It's a smooth immersion into a college world not too different from my own experience, and I really liked feeling transported back to those years. The dialogue was particularly fun- it had a real pulse, and captured the banter among the closest of friends. All in all, I really recommend this read. Not just because it's good- which it is- but because it stretches the way you think. Maybe even changes it.

Bestest of all? Follow this link to get it free right now over at Amazon! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Curse Merchant- Cover Reveal!

I am so pleased to be able to participate in the cover reveal for my friend JP Sloan's forthcoming The Curse Merchant!

About the cover:

I loooove this book. I first had the chance to read one of the early drafts, and it's stuck with me ever since. So imagine my delight when I learned JP Sloan was going to become my publisher-mate and re-release The Curse Merchant through Curiosity Quills Press. One of the things I love most about the book is its urban setting steeped in illusion and secrets of all kinds, which manages to maintain a realistic "city" feel even while being imbued with dark magic. When I saw the cover, I kind of squealed a little, because it ties all these elements together so well: personable average kind of guy drawn deeper and deeper into an urban underworld. 


Dorian Lake spent years cornering the Baltimore hex-crafting market, using his skills at the hermetic arts to exact karmic justice for those whom the system has failed. He keeps his magic clean and free of soul-corrupting Netherwork, thus avoiding both the karmic blow-back of his practice and the notice of the Presidium, a powerful cabal of practitioners that polices the esoteric arts in America. However, when an unscrupulous Netherworker interferes with both his business and his personal life, Dorian's disarming charisma and hermetic savvy may not be enough to keep his soul out of jeopardy.

His rival, a soul monger named Neil Osterhaus, wouldn't be such a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian's captivating ex-lover. After two years' absence Carmen arrives at Dorian’s doorstep with a problem: she sold her soul to Osterhaus, and has only two weeks to buy it back. Hoping to win back Carmen's affections, Dorian must find a replacement soul without tainting his own. As Dorian descends into the shadows of Baltimore’s underworld, he must decide how low he is willing to stoop in order to save Carmen from eternal damnation... with the Presidium watching, waiting for him to cross the line.

Find JP Sloan Online:

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