Thoughts Brought on by Hugh Howey’s Blog

I just read “Writing Insights Part One: Becoming a Writer” on Hugh Howey’s blog,  Hugh Howey, the Wayfinder. The first of a four part series. It has started me thinking, given me support, and inspired different thinking when it comes to marketing. I find much of Howey’s ten things he wished he’d known before he started writing hits directly on me. I understand what he is saying. I have either been there, am there right now, or will be there. It is a relief to know that I am not the only one whose first real attempt at writing something I thought might be publishable was when I was a teenager and that it was more than twenty years later before that particular attempt became a finished product. It is a relief to know that it is okay to want to write and read – to need to write and read. It is a relief to know there are readers out there looking for my books, my stories – I just have to write them first. Then once they are written I can spend the time marketing them to those readers. But I have to write them first.

Howey suggests getting five to six books published before really diving into marketing. I am not quite halfway there. So in the mean time how do I get the word out? How do I build that 1,000 followers who will demand my books, share my books, talk about my books? Do I have to figure out how at the same I should be writing? Can I do multiple things at the same time? Should I spend money on getting someone to help me in this area just as I have hired an editor, book designer,  proofreader, and e-book transformer? I know I am struggling in this marketing portion. I know I can’t do it all. How can I get those readers who seem to like what I’ve written so far to help me?

And I have a several readers who are passionate about what I am writing. Some of them are helping me get the word out by telling their libraries to get copies of my books; by telling their friends to get my books; and they are buying books to give to others because they want to share their excitement and enjoyment for what I am writing. They are demanding the next book. I am learning from them – becoming a better writer. I am filled with energy and ideas that I receive from conversations with them about my books. I still have a long way to go. I know I have to get the third book of the scifi series out. That it has to be better than book number two, which was better than book number one. Each one will be better than the last – at least that is my goal. (see my blog about Another Award Winner!)

I am listening to those readers who talk to me. Their voices are filled with excitement. Their body language is animated. They ask lots of questions. Some I won’t answer. Some I can’t – not yet. They give me ideas, they explain their thoughts on why I wrote something, or what they hope I will include or what they hope will happen. They tell me how much they like my writing style, my author’s voice. Sometimes I wish they would write it all down and post to their Goodreads pages, to Amazon, to my Facebook pages, to LinkedIn, and to my blog page. I wish they would go to my website and write down these comments, questions, etc. I so enjoy seeing them, hearing them and I want to share their enthusiasm. Right now these interactions happen between tips at a dance event, during an interlude at a meeting, late a night after an event while Bob & I are trying to clean up a hall or just before an event is to happen and we are setting up.  I am trying to figure out how to let others hear and see their reactions to what I am writing. And I realize that while I am trying to research and learn how to share that, I am not writing the next chapter of the next book. The few I have so far, already really want the third and fourth books, as soon as possible. So, I am in a quandary. Write? Market? Both?

 

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I Did Not See That Coming

So, you never know who will read your book and be so excited that they tell every one they know how good it is. I truly was not expecting what happened a couple of months ago.

I was the substitute representative of my Chapter at a P.E.O. meet and greet tonight and part of the introductions included what we “did.” I explained that I owned a small independent publishing company and that my second book had just been published. One of the women present asked what genre of book. I replied that it was a science fiction/fantasy  cross over. She responded with “I love science fiction and fantasy!”

I pulled out a business card which had a photo of the cover of the first book with a list of the awards it has received and a direct url on Amazon. After she studied the cover photo for a minute she announced “My daughter has this book! She has read it and told me that I should look into getting it quick because it was going to be a great series!”

I did not see that coming. I was skeptical that it was the same book but she insisted, saying her daughter described the cover very well and that it was just too different not to recognize. She then asked if I had either one with me. Now how did she know I had several copies of both books in a box out in the car? She pulled out her check book, asked me how much for both books and could I sign them both to her daughter. Well, I was not going to say no to that. I brought in the box and several other women passed them around – sharing the excitement and small worldliness of the exchange. Another of the attendees said she remembered seeing an article in the May issue of the P.E.O. Record about the book.

Yes, it is a small world and therefore you as an author need to make sure your book is the best it can be because, believe me, people will talk about what they read. Plus you should always have business cards with your book cover images on hand to hand out to interested people. Make these clear and concise without too many words and include a link or QR code to where they can purchase it/them. This is ESPECIALLY important if you don’t have actual copies of the book with you.

She was so excited about giving her daughter two signed books and she is planning to swipe her daughter’s current copy for herself and bring it back to Denver so I can sign that one to her. I asked her where her daughter lived. The answer? Washington state. Kind of bizarre if you ask me.

This interaction has made me aware of several things:

  1. If you write a good story people will read it and encourage others to do the same.
  2. Make your cover memorable – it helps with recognition.
  3. Design a good business card and always have several on hand.
  4. Be proud of what you write. Own being an author. Don’t keep it a secret.
  5. Always have a couple of copies on hand.
  6. Keep writing – because if they liked this one they will want more.

 

 

Radio Interview!

Last fall I participated in an author interview on KYGT in Idaho Springs, Colorado. I was nervous but show host Jerry Fabyanic had given me a short list of topics he planned to cover, so I was not going in to this new experience totally unprepared. Even so I hope you will pardon all the umms and uhs on my part because it was broadcast live – no cuts or retakes on that first airing. The link, below, has had the local announcements of sponsors and upcoming programs removed but otherwise it is what it was. Jerry has been a radio host on KYGT, known as The Goat, since 2004. He interviews local and regional authors on his radio show “The Rabbit Hole.” I was introduced to him  early in 2016 at a Colorado Independent Publishers Association meeting as he was preparing to publish his first book, Sisyphus Wins, which garnered a 3rd Place award in the 2016 CIPA EVVY Awards. His editor, Melanie Mulhall of Dragonheart Writing and Editing, is also my editor so we have a bit more in common than being award winning authors.
mtn-goat-8-july-2006Anyway, for your listening curiosity, here is a link to that show: Radio Interview. Jerry made me feel very comfortable and we wandered around a variety of topics involved with writing, especially on writing science fiction and fantasy. He was intrigued that the characters in my books talk to me in dreams and often won’t leave me alone until I tell their story the way it “actually” happened.

You can read more about Jerry and his works at www.JerryFabyanic.com and you can listen to all his interviews and shows on “The Rabbit Hole” at www.kygt.org, The Goat.

If you are an author living in the Colorado area, you should consider contacting Jerry to see if he can get you on his schedule. It was a fun and different experience. My husband, Bob and I got to Idaho Springs early and walked the main streets until show time. We were delighted to be scheduled that particular weekend because the town was celebrating “Dynamite Days” and the streets were lined with all sorts of artisans and performers. All that helped me relax. Once at the radio studio Jerry and I exchanged books and then launch into the interview, which lasted about one hour. It sure went by fast! Afterward Bob and I celebrated this event with a late lunch at a restaurant, Mountain Prime (MTN Prime), across the street from the famous Beau Jo’s Pizza. Since I shouldn’t ingest gluten or dairy products (darn, I love pizza but really cannot handle the usual crusts & ,toppings – they cause the joints in my hand to swell and hurt, a lot) the menu at Mountain Prime suited my alterations better. And, honestly, I had one of the best hamburgers (without the bun) and sweet potato fries I think I have ever had. We will be going up there again!

Have you been on the radio? What did you do to relax? What about celebrating?

The Balance is here!

Now the marketing work begins – or rather continues to ramp up. How am I marketing this entertaining second installment of The Stone’s Blade series? Here is a list of the things I have started:

First I had my book designer, Nathan, upload the print version of the book to Create Space and made it available on Amazon after approving the file. Then, with support from my eBook transformer, Helena, I learned how to upload the The_Balance_Cover_for_Kindle.mobi file to Amazon’s KDP program. That one took about four tries before I got it right but it did work after a good night’s sleep and a fresh outlook on the process.

Then I moved to Goodreads and created a Giveaway for five autographed copies to readers in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. I am running the Giveaway for a full month and three days in 138 people have entered. So take a moment and enter the Giveaway (see below for the link).

I have announced that The Balance is live and ready for reading on both my personal and business Facebook pages.

If you want to purchase a copy directly from me you only have to attend one of our dances. One benefit to doing that is you will receive a twenty percent discount. Granted none of the books I sell personally gets recognized on Amazon but that’s okay. I do receive a larger royalty by selling on my own too. And that helps my bank account. I am hoping that one day I will break even on this venture. At the moment that means selling between one and two thousand copies. And you can help by purchasing a copy or two (insert smiling face here!) for yourself, family and/or friends. To buy from Amazon click here.

If you enjoy reading this second installment please take a moment to post a brief review on Amazon and Goodreads. This way you are helping me spread the word.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Balance by Allynn Riggs

The Balance

by Allynn Riggs

Giveaway ends September 30, 2016.

See the giveaway details

 

I thank you in advance for joining me on the continuing adventure of The Stone’s Blade series. Let me know what you think and share your thoughts. Help me celebrate!

 

Marketing Experiment for December 2015

December 2015 has been an interesting experiment in marketing book one of The Stone’s Blade series, The Blood. In preparation for the upcoming release of the second installment of the series, The Balance, I launch a multi-pronged social media announcement scheduled across three different sites.cropped-the-blood-at-tattered-cover-hr-rmas-shelf-6-24-14.jpg

I began the month with by paying for several advertisements on a website for readers called BookDaily. Their daily e-mails to general audiences and targeted e-mails for readers of specific genres included a brief blurb, copy of the cover and link to Amazon for purchase along with the first chapter as a sample.

Then I set up a five day FREE Kindle download from Amazon which ran from December 18 through the 22nd. This was been a very interesting result. Day One 148 downloads, Day Two 158 downloads, Day Three 40 downloads, Day Four 231 downloads, Day five 92 downloads. The jump on day four is directly related to a single day announcement on Goodreads of the free Kindle version.

On December 22 I decided to check on the rankings: this was my posting on Facebook: So here’s the good news on the Kindle down loads and rankings on Amazon for The Blood.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,048 Free in Kindle Store
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Time Travel
#7 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera

If you look carefully you will notice that I broke into the top 10 in two categories – Time Travel and Space Opera! Thank you to everyone who downloaded the past five days. I look forward to seeing your reviews when you get the chance to post. I hope you enjoy the read.

Then on the evening of the 23rd I returned to Amazon to see how far the book had dropped in the rankings. This was what I found:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,432 Paid in Kindle Store. #403 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Time Travel. #1614 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera. #1871 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

A fascinating difference, don’t you think? Now I am hoping that of the total of 669 downloads of the Kindle version at least 65 (I’m thinking 10%) will actually read it and perhaps post honest reviews to Amazon and or Goodreads. That will have wait I guess because it should take most readers a couple of weeks to read. I mean a lot of people actually collect free downloads and probably read none of them. I hope to see an uptick in the number of reviews around the end of February 2016. That’s when I am hoping to get The Balance out. Somehow I am hoping for some bleed over from all the Kindle downloads of The Blood to purchases of either the Kindle or paperback version of The Balance.

This marketing is all a learning process. I really just want to write the stories but I must learn how to be more effective in my marketing – essentially no one else is going to do this for me. I promised the characters I would write their stories and I promised to do my very best. Learning marketing of fiction, particularly science fiction and fantasy is not an easy task and I believe it will be worth it. My goal is to break even. At an average of $3 to $5 profit from each book I must sell at least 2,000+ paperbacks just to break even on The Blood. I believe this is possible. I will be patient. Most series don’t really get noticed until at least the third installment is well into publication. I have five titles. I truly can hardly wait to get started on number three, The Blades. Yet, again, I must wait and be patient. Number two, The Balance demands my attention for now. I promise it will be good. I am doing my best and with help and guidance from my editor, proofreader, book designer and a couple of beta readers, it is worth the wait.Book Promotion

Have you read The Blood yet? What do you think? Please post a review on Amazon, Goodreads or BookDaily. Don’t keep it a secret.

I thank you for sharing the stories of The Stone’s Blade.

 

The EVVY Awards – “The Blood” is a finalist!

EVVY Award logo 2014Basically, I can state: my science fiction/fantasy book, The Blood: The Stones Blade, #1, is a finalist in at least two of the five categories in which it was entered. I am still waiting on the results for the other three categories as to whether it made it through to be a finalist. The award ceremony is just over two weeks away on August 23, 2014 and I can’t seem to hold back and be patient. I have been checking the CIPA website once a day though I was told it could be as late as the 15th before the other category finalists are announced.(That’s a whole eight days from now!) I’m not sure I can wait that long!

I am delighted to announce that Nathan Fisher of Sci-Fi Book Cover Designer (www.scifibookcoverdesigner.com) entered The Blood for his cover design and his interior design. Congratulations to Nathan for designing one of the most beautiful covers I’ve seen on the shelves. There is so much to see on that cover, too! So many little details waiting to be changed just a bit for when book two, The Balance, is ready. Make sure you have a paperback copy so you can enjoy this fine piece of artwork. If you are looking for a cover artist for your upcoming science fiction or fantasy piece, check out his website and contact Nathan. If you believe in what you have written make every effort to have it covered in a piece of art.

When I dropped off the books to be dispersed to the judges, the publisher, Joe, who was collecting the 270+ entries, was impressed with the unique interior design as well. He wondered aloud if Nathan would be upset if Joe used a similar technique for the chapter heading design on a book his company was designing. I hope that Nathan’s efforts garner him two awards – His sense of the story and knowledge of sci-fi and fantasy readers and their expectations have given me the opportunity to entice the reader visually as well as enhancing the text at the opening of each chapter. Nathan has figured out how to make my imagination visible. That is the gift of a true artist.

My editor, Melanie Mulhall of Dragonheart Editing and Writing, is expecting to announce that her entry of The Blood in the editing category will also be a finalist. She is meticulous and exacting – almost to the point of frustration on my part. However, she is not just an editor. Melanie is a writing coach with amazing talent and she often connects with her clients on an intuitive or spiritual level. An added benefit is that she enjoys a great cup of tea and I’ve been pleased to share cinnamon orange tea from Awful Annie’s with her. If you don’t know what that means you need to read not just the story but the acknowledgment. Her website is http://www.DragonheartWritingandEditing.com).

The last two categories I entered The Blood in were Fiction: Science Fiction and Fiction: Fantasy. Since it is a crossover between the two genres I had to cover my options by entering in both. Whether it wins or not I am delighted that the Colorado Independent Publishers Association continues to support self-publishing with these awards. One of the longest running awards for independent publishing, The EVVY Awards, bring to light hidden jewels in the publishing business. Come along for the ride. Own The Blood before it wins it’s first award. Then you can say, “I was one of the first.” You have until August 23, 2014 so get it now! Click http://alturl.com/fbn43 to get your copy and let me know what you think.