Tag Archives: networking

Addictive Reads

Happy Tuesday, Scribe’s readers.

PJ Sharon here today, sharing my most recent group endeavor and plans for a bit of a shake-up here at the Secrets of 7 Scribes. One of the biggest surprises for me on this journey has been the willingness of other writers and authors to band together and help each other succeed. There is power in numbers, and group blogs, blog hops, multi-author contests and group events have proven that working together is a must when trying to reach a broader audience.

MOD_Author_Services_logo_72dpiOur resident marketing guru, Jennifer Fusco of MARKET OR DIE AUTHOR SERVICES, often talks about expanding our sphere of influence. But how do we do it? How do we reach new readers, get more reviews, find more sign-ups for our newsletters, and connect directly with people who want to engage with us in this crazy social media jungle? I’m sure there is more than one answer, but I’m thinking sites like ADDICTIVE READS are a great model.

When I was first invited to join the Secrets of 7 Scribes four years ago (gulp), all of us were unpublished writers, working our tails off and only aspiring to become authors. Now, a mere four years later, we are all published or contracted to be published soon. Not a bad place to be, but in this increasingly complex and ever-changing industry, we need to change it up here at the Scribes to stay relevant. Stay tuned for our upcoming metamorphosis!

Addictive reads-Button-Black-copy-259x300In the meantime, I’ve been hanging out with a group of “hybrid” authors ( a combination of indie and traditionally published authors), who are taking group blogging to the next level. The page is still in the creation stages and not all the author pages are completed, but feel free to pop over to the ADDICTIVE READS site to browse and check out all the great books available to readers, including a bunch of free titles. We’ve also begun a Beta readers and Reviewers FB page so avid readers can sign up to read books by these fabulous authors before the books are even released! I love this idea. (This is a closed group so you’ll need an invitation to participate. Let me know if you’re interested).

As for the Secrets of 7 Scribes, me and my fellow Scribes are in talks about how we can upgrade our page to become a more reader-centric site that offers more than just daily blog posts. We want to ensure there’s a reason for readers–as well as writers–to visit us every day. Of course we’ll continue to have pages of resources in our FAQ that you’ll want to follow if you are on the path to publication–our commitment to paying it forward–but the idea is to showcase us and our books while connecting to readers and offering incentives for loyal followers. I hope you’ll stay with us during this transition.

While you’re waiting to see what we have in store here at the Scribes, feel free to visit the ADDICTIVE READS website and like their FB Page to see what these award winning and bestselling authors have to offer.

What would you like to see here at the Scribes?

Book Signing Success

PJ here, just off a long weekend at the Granville Harvest Fair. I’ve done many such book signing events over the past couple of years, but this one was by far my favorite. For one thing, I live ten minutes up the road, so it’s close, and I inevitably saw lots of familiar faces. Thousands of folks ambled by my booth, many stopping to chat–whether they were teens or simply teens at heart. The fact that I was a local author was also a big draw. Putting a face to someone local who has achieved what so many others only dream about, seems to be an instant conversation starter. I can’t tell you how many people I spoke to—young and old—who said that they write in one form or another, and that it was nice to meet someone who has actually published their stories. It was lovely to be a source of encouragement and inspiration.

I’ve said in the past, that book signings have netted me little profit in the monetary sense and I’ve wondered whether they were really worth my time, but this event has changed my mind. In addition to making a modest profit from book sales, I gained a couple of dozen names for my newsletter list, and made many potential connections–including school teachers, librarians, mental health professionals, and teens interested in finding me on social media or purchasing my e-books for their e-readers after the fair. All in all, a great success. I thought I would share some tips that I found helpful. I hope you’ll share yours in the comments section below, so others may benefit from your experience.

harvest fair pic 11) THINGS TO BRING-A sturdy, 10×10 easy-up tent, a comfy chair, a couple of tables with table cloths (I have a six foot and a four foot table), books in plastic totes (don’t forget to take inventory and keep track of your sales), swag (bookmarks, post cards, etc.), tape, scissors, pens, plastic bags (recycle those plastic grocery bags and carry them in an empty tissue box for convenience), or have some nice bags made up with your name, website, and logo if you want to make an impression. You might reserve those for people who buy several books. Don’t forget a cash lock box, business cards, and candy (no chocolate on hot days) or a treat.

2) SIGNAGE-Invest in a nice banner, which you can have printed up through Vista Print. I have yet to do this, but I made do with a homemade banner. Plastic stand-up sign holders from Staples work great for specific table top signs. You can make whatever signs you want on your computer to fit the 8×11 frames. “Local Author of Teen Books,” “Sign up for my newsletter and enter to win…,” “Follow me on FB, Twitter, etc.” and pricing signs, are just a few ideas. Be creative.

3) PRESENTATION-Consider your brand, your audience, and your space. Create a visually appealing stage for your books. harvest fair pic 3Use color wisely to catch attention of passersby and don’t overcrowd your space. Too much to look at can be a deterrent.

4) SELLING-You can offer book sets with special pricing/discounts, you could sell merchandise related to your books (cups, tee shirts, or in my case, wooden whistles which I also offer as a free gift to those who purchase both book one and book two in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy).

5) SALES PITCH-This is an opportunity to hone your sales pitch. Have a one liner to pull people in. Keep it simple. “Feel free to take a bookmark.” Keep it real and fun. “This is the glamorous life of an author.” This last phrase spoken as I used duct tape to secure my tent signage or while I peeled tape residue off my tent poles. I got lots of smiles with this one. Pitch to your audience. “I write books for teens…and teens at heart,” when speaking to adults and elderly folks who actually might enjoy reading my books. I describe my contemporary YA novels as the kind of books that would make great Lifetime Network or Hallmark movies, and note when I’m speaking to parents of teens that I write books that I wish had been available when I was a teenager. I mention accolades and awards, my million plus reads of SAVAGE CINDERELLA on Wattpad (which made that particular book sell very well all weekend), and try to hone in on what might appeal to the demographic to which I’m presenting. “The book is about a girl who is kidnapped as a child, left for dead in the high country of North Georgia and survives in the wild.” One sentence grabbers are essential! Comparisons also work well as in “Savage Cinderella is like Law and Order SVU meets Nell.” Of course this only works for people old enough to remember the movie with Jodie Foster, LOL. With teens, I might compare The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael to the TV show, Revolution, or books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, but not quite as grim and gritty. As time goes on throughout the event, you’ll find what works best. It’s excellent practice for agent/editor elevator pitches at conferences. You never know who you’ll meet, so always have a professional and friendly demeanor.

6) GIVEAWAYS-Book signings are a great place to expand your newsletter mailing list. Offer entry in a prize giveaway, a FREE download, or some incentive to get people to sign up. Reassure them that your newsletters aren’t spammy and that their information will not be used for any other reason. Be prepared to offer something for free. You can be generous without giving away the store or breaking the bank. It costs me nothing to give away a free download of ON THIN ICE (I get a coupon code through Smashwords, and have cards printed up through Vista Print with my cover on the front and instructions and the download code on the back. I can usually get 250 cards printed up for free or next to nothing when I’m ordering other items through Vista Print).

Most importantly, have FUN! Try to stay engaged with people and don’t stick your nose in a book or hide behind your computer screen. Fortunately, we had a dry and beautiful weekend with a great turnout. I met some amazing people! I also had some fabulous apple pie with Granville cheddar cheese…yum! And yes, I even sold a good number of books.

Any other ideas or things I missed?

Hopping with Authors in Bloom

Hey gang, PJ Sharon here on this second Tuesday in April. I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday weekend with lots of good food and time with family. After such a “hoppy” weekend, it seems only reasonable to suggest that April is the best time of year for a spring blog hop. For those of you who have only heard the term Blog Hop, and have wondered, ummm…what the heck is a blog hop? Well, I’m here to fill you in.

A blog hop is a way for many authors to join together to cross promote. Some dedicated and organized soul (thank you Dianne Venetta), sets up the main landing page with all of the instructions, rules, and links to all of the participating author’s blogs/websites. There is usually a grand prize, (Kindles, Nooks, and I-pads are popular), with a set of rules as to how to enter for the grand prize. For instance, the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop requires that entrants go to each of the participating author’s sites and “collect” phrases that add up to a complete story. If they collect all the phrases and go to the AIB landing page they can enter to win the grand prize.

Of course, as they stop at each participating site, they can also enter to win prizes from each author as well. I added this Authors in Bloom icon to my home page of my website with a link to my promotional blog where I’m giving away a prize pack that includes signed copies of my books, tee shirt, mug, pen, book marks, World Wildlife Fund water bottle, national Wildlife Fund tote and stuffed polar bear. In other words, SWAG. Since we are trying to draw in the largest crowd of our target audience, who are mostly Romance readers and adult YA readers, we added a favorite recipe (a yummy and super easy Sunny Delight pie) and/or a gardening tip (Manure tea, anyone?) for all of our readers.  As a way to increase my visibility and reach, I gave lots of opportunities to stack up entries by leaving a comment, “liking’ my FaceBook page, following me on Twitter, tweeting about the blog hop, or signing up for my mailing list. For each effort, I add another entry into the drawing for that person. Isn’t it great how everybody wins here?

The general idea is to give folks incentive for visiting each authors site. There are seventy-four authors participating for a ten day blog hop, so there are literally hundreds of prizes to be won and tons of wonderful recipes and gardening tips to be had. There’s lots of interactive fun and  a blog hop is a great way to connect to readers.

The cost to each author was $5.50 which we voluntarily pitched in to buy an e-reader. The winner will have a choice of which type they’d like. The grand prize also comes with a $25 Amazon gift card.

The idea is to get people to visit your website or blog, help you grow your reader base and spread the word via FB, Twitter, or signing up for your mailing list. I’ve hear that increasing your visibility and extending your sphere of influence are the keys to a good marketing plan and this way, you have a whole team of authors working on it together. EVERYBODY WINS! I’m excited to see what the results will be! I’ll keep you posted.

Any questions about Blog Hops?

Twitter-pated

Happy Friday! Casey Wyatt here.

I admit I was reluctant to take the plunge and join Twitter. My thought was –  Ugh, another thing I have to do on top of Facebook and the blogs.

And it is another thing to keep track of … except I like Twitter it.

Maybe too much. It appeals to my inpatient nature and is a great opportunity to spend time avoiding writing. I get instant feedback and someone, somewhere is always tweeting about something interesting. So what is Twitter? It’s a social media tool that allows you to speak to your “followers” or “tweeps” in 140 characters or less. People have to choose to follow you. And you choose to follow them. You can only read comments from those people or organizations you follow. And they in turn will only read your comments if they follow you. (Twitter allows you to directly message people if you know their user name). Our friend and marketing guru Jennifer Fusco likens Twitter to a cocktail party. I think that is a great analogy.  Except my problem is I like the party a little too much. So what’s a writer to do? Limit yourself – I re-tweet (a function that allows you to share tweets you like with your followers). And I publicize for the Scribes (@Secretsof7Scrib) and for Casey (@CaseyWyatt1). I try to read the “feeds” only a few times a day, rather than all day long. Connect – Many applications “talk” to each other. I allow Twitter, Facebook and WordPress access to each other. When I tweet or re-tweet, it appears on my Facebook wall and on my blog page. When this blog posts, it will appear in Twitter and on my Facebook wall. Kinda of neat, huh? Be Meaningful – Ask yourself before you tweet- does anyone care what you ate for lunch? My yardstick for a RT (re-tweet) is – would I like to share this with my followers? Is this an interesting tweet (example, it leads to cool blog post or a contest)? Be mindful of other’s time. Tweet with a purpose. And remember to be professional. Follow – Follow others and they will follow you back (for the most part). And don’t stick to just other writers. I’ve branched out and started following review sites, artists, even the Dalai Lama (he has very sage advice). And speaking of advice – embrace some form of social media. It’s not going away anytime soon. Pick something you like and can manage. Remember, writing should always come first. We can’t sell a blank page! p.s. follow me, I follow back! What is your favorite social media? Least favorite? And have you had to go on a social media diet?

Writing Success Doesn’t Happen in the Vacuum of Space

 I joined RWA and the CT Chapter in 2007 when I realized I needed to reach out to people who knew how to do this writing thing. I was immediately aided by published authors, budding newbies like myself, and everyone in between. I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in an organization where I’ve been so readily accepted and supported, and for that I am forever grateful.

Then I joined YARWA (Young Adult chapter of RWA) last year,  and I felt like I had found my people. I couldn’t believe there were others who sat around thinking like a teenager and re-writing history.

 Being a part of a writing community has afforded me the ability to share my work with critique partners and open forums where I’ve had tremendous help in learning every aspect of the craft. Although I’ve gone through four critique groups and probably six or eight critique partners, I’ve left each relationship on good terms and it is accepted that as our writing style changes and grows, our need for different perspectives comes naturally. I value each person I’ve worked with and hopefully they feel the same about me.

Crit partners, Susannah, Casey and Katy Lee

Another highlight of being involved in RWA is that I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to attend conferences and workshops with some of the most talented writers and best teachers around. The CT Chapter has outdone themselves by bringing in the likes of Michael Hague, Margie Lawson, and our upcoming guest, Laurie Schnebly Campbell. At each of the four Fiction Fests and National Conferences I’ve attended, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people, (including my favorite author, Diana Gabaldon). I even got to fondle, covet, and admire Kristan Higgins’ RITA statue and once shared a room with Jessica Andersen. I considered myself lucky on all counts. The best part of all of it, has been the friends I’ve made along the way. 

Also, thanks to the RWA and its tireless volunteer members, I’ve had the privilege of entering numerous writing contests. The feedback and acknowledgement I’ve received has been inspiring, interesting, and enormously helpful. Contests serve many purposes, not the least of which is that it gets you in front of agents and editors and you can use feedback to judge your own readiness for publication. Contest finals and wins also look great on your writer’s resume. What I found over time and with persistence was that, as my writing evolved, my contest scores and placement improved. It was tangible evidence that I was gaining ground. The same can be said for the dreaded query process. As painful as it was, after thirty or forty rejections, you start noticing that comments get more personal, useful and encouraging. That’s when you know that publication is around the corner. As an indie-published author, I am ineligable for entering the RITA Awards, but I can still enter the Golden Heart. Odd but true, and so I’ve entered Heaven Is For Heroes. Wish me luck!

With the shifting sands of the publishing industry, my choice to independently publish my YA novels may seem either foolish or brave, depending on your perspective. Only time will tell if I am successful without the assistance of an agent and a publisher. But I can say without a doubt that I couldn’t do it without the assistance of the RWA, my CT Chapter, and my YARWA and WANA (We Are Not Alone) peeps. Without your support, none of it would be possible. Thanks everyone! I’m proud to be among you. 

If you could meet your favorite author and ask them one question, who would it be and what would you ask?