CoSchedule: The Way to a Website Snob’s Heart

Here’s the latest post from my Maximum Author Impact blog:

CoSchedule: The Way to a Website Snob’s Heart


8 Steps to Coloring Away Your Overwhelm

20150105_175602Are you an author who feels overwhelmed when faced with all the marketing required to be successful? An entrepreneur juggling multiple projects? An adult learner finishing your degree or working on a second degree part-time? Read on, my friend! Read more >>

5 Ways the Book Marketing Challenge Blew My Mind

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I already loved marketing when I started the Book Marketing Challenge under the amazingly organized and inspiring D’vorah Lansky. I was excited, thinking I’d learn a few new techniques, maybe a new angle on what I already knew, and move on. After all, I’ve published three fiction books already.

But the Challenge blew my mind. Here’s how:

1. Lists are Gold, Jerry! Gold!

I knew lists were important, but I had no idea just HOW important. They really are gold. I had no idea there were so many ways to build the list. I’ve had a subscription to AWeber for over a year now, but never knew quite what to do with it. Sister, I do now!

2. Teleseminars Rock!

Oh, Lynne Klippel, I love you, you with your gorgeous view from your porch in Ecuador! I have to confess, as soon as I saw Lynne’s session, I was obsessed with teleseminars. I took her course and got just a bit distracted from the Book Marketing Challenge for awhile. Last night I held the second of four sessions of the beta-test of my webinar, “Maximize Your Marketing Impact with a WordPress Website,” and I’m loving it!

3. Kindle Possibilities Are Endless!

My second crush I’m confessing to here (no, third, because I include D’vorah) is Kristen Eckstein. I had no idea I could do so much with my Kindle books. I’m taking her series now, and it’s exciting too.

4. Nonfiction is Awesome!

I’ve always been a researcher; after all, my master’s is in library science. I decided at the beginning of this Challenge to put aside my fiction for awhile and focus on nonfiction. I’m having a blast!

5. Woman Power!

(I am really not an exclamation point person, but this Challenge forces me to do it, because I’m so excited about it.) I’m thrilled to see so many women speakers and participants in this Challenge. No offense, guys, but I’m so happy to see women taking charge of their lives and careers in such creative ways.

Thank you so much to everyone for making this the best money I ever spent on continuing education! (Yeah, that deserves one last exclamation point.)

Do you agree? Comment on your experiences below.

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Click Refresh, or 3 Things I Learned About Writing at a Sci-Fi Convention

Alabama Phoenix FestivalMy experiences this past weekend at the Alabama Phoenix Festival make me feel as if I’ve clicked the Refresh button on my life-browser. The Festival is essentially a pop culture convention, and featured tracks on anime, science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, costuming, Star Trek and Star Wars, and comics, just to name a few. One of the stronger tracks was on writing. Here’s a summary of what I learned.

1. Editors at publishing houses only read the first sentence. If they’re not gripped then, they pass on to the next. This information came to me from my dear friend Janica York Carter who attended a panel on “What Are Editors Looking For?” featuring Lou Anders of Pyr Publishing. Another editor on the panel said he’d read a bit further, but that still means you need to hook the reader right away. Anders said (paraphrasing), “I love books. I spend all my time with books. I wouldn’t be in this profession if I didn’t love books. So if you can’t hook ME right away, you need to try harder.”

2. Marketing is crucial. Think creatively about it. This advice I derived from a wonderful conversation with Teal Haviland, author of the newly released Inception. My friend Janica told me about her booth, and when I visited, I was immediately drawn by the gorgeous cover of her book. Even before I spoke with Ms. Haviland, I could tell she was doing so much right with her marketing. She had a professional cover, in contrast to many others around her whose covers screamed, “I did this myself and don’t know anything about fonts.” Her “booth”–actually a four-foot section of a long cloth-covered table–displayed her book, business cards and bookmarks in an attractive array. Behind the booth, on the wall, were two posters for her book, one of them an enlarged version of the cover. Ms. Haviland explained that when it’s busy, people passing by may not be able to see the top of the table, but they will see the posters. The interior of her book was beautifully laid out, with decorations in the footer beside the page number and inside covers–all done (I believe) at CreateSpace. She sells her books at science fiction and fantasy conventions, because that’s where the fans of her fantasy books are, and feels it’s important to ask to be put on panels, to raise awareness of her books. In the program schedule, I noted she was on 6 panels. Ms. Haviland said she also attends book festivals, as that’s where the readers are.

3. Networking is vital. The Alabama Phoenix Festival is a young convention, and still relatively small compared to something like Dragon*Con, but that’s a good thing. Since the crowds are smaller, you aren’t pressed to hurry through the authors alley or the vendors’ booths. You can stop and talk with authors who have experience in the areas you’re working on. You can chat with prominent editors and small press publishers and pick their brains (while seeing costumed zombies ready to eat yours). You can meet new and talented artists (like the incredibly multi-talented Afua Richardson, who designed the festival’s badge and program artwork). Such lovely people, all ready to help and eager to talk.

Comments? What have your experiences been? I’d love to read them. Post below.

Adventures with TweetAdder

I love Twitter. I’m just gonna come right out and say that up front. Criticizing Twitter has become a cliché: “Who wants to read what people had for lunch?” Anyone making that criticism is outing themselves that they don’t really use Twitter. Every day I read an amazing array of cool tidbits, vignettes of life and links I’d never have found on my own from people all over the planet.

I primarily tweet from the viewpoint of an author. Every author who’s the least bit interested in promotion of her or his book needs a Twitter presence. But I’ll confess, acquiring followers isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Following is a voluntary process, and you can’t go around forcing people to join, even though you suspect they’d be very interested in what you have to say or write. That’s where TweetAdder comes in.

TweetAdder is a program that automates the process of acquiring Twitter followers. I read about it in Jon F. Merz‘s book How to Really Sell Ebooks, in which he devotes at least a chapter to implementing the program. (I really appreciate that about Jon’s book, the step by step detailed instructions rather than vague platitudes about how great the product is.)

I was a little skeptical at first. What TweetAdder does for you is grab lists of people who follow people you specify and automate the process of following them. For example, since I’ve written a steampunk book, I wanted to engage the followers of Gail Carriger and Cherie Priest. The theory, obviously, is that if you follow someone, they will very often follow you back. TweetAdder manages the grunt work, unfollowing people who don’t follow you back within three days (or whatever time period you specify), and maintaining that vital ratio of followers to people you’re following.

At first the idea struck me as somewhat sleazy. But when I thought about it, I realized that I’m just tapping into people who share common interests. I’m selecting people to market to based on their reading preferences (presumably that’s why they follow the people they do). I’ve gone from a couple of hundred followers to 1,085 in about six weeks’ time.

Here’s the challenge, though. Nobody wants to read a constant barrage of spam, requesting they buy my book. As Jon F. Merz stresses, Twitter is about relationships. You have to interact with your followers as if they’re people (since, y’know, they are). Engaging in 140 characters on a regular basis is difficult for me, particularly when I’m at work. I’ve tried posting interesting historical trivia related to the research I did for The Source of Lightning, and links to fascinating items found on the American Memory site. I’m still experimenting. Occasionally I get retweets. Sometimes I even get into conversations. Which is really what Twitter is all about.

Do you have experience with TweetAdder? Thoughts about Twitter marketing? Share in the comments below.