Thursday, 26 July 2012

Monday, 23 July 2012

Guest Post - Author Charmaine Clancy on Marketing ebooks.

Today we are thrilled to welcome Charmaine Clancy, author of the hilarious My Zombie Dog, and recent member of RFW, who tells us what she's learned about marketing ebooks. Whether you've published several ebooks, or are about to launch into the epub world, we're sure you'll find something here to help you. 

Over to you Charmaine:

Thank you Denise and Donna for having me on Romantic Friday Writers. It’s such a thrill, I feel all important now!

So…you’ve written a novel and decided to go the Indie/self-publishing route... now comes the hard part - how can you promote your ebook?

BOOK COVER
First, make sure you have a fantastic PROFESSIONAL cover that grabs attention, even at thumbnail size (this is how most people will see it first on Amazon). If you’re creating your own cover check out DIY Book CoversOr check out my latest blog post on Cover Fonts here. 


PROMOTE
Amazon also provides ways for you to promote your ebook. The ‘Like’ button is a good place to start. There are places where you can swap likes with other authors or ‘tag’ each other’s books (check out World Literary Cafe or search Goodreads for Indie or self-publishing). Tags help your book get found in searches. Make your tags relevant to your novel’s content, theme or genre.

REVIEWS
Reviews are a big draw card for potential customers. Don’t do your own review; it always looks a bit sad. But maybe your beta readers wouldn’t mind putting up a few words and rating your novel? While you’re at it, why not ask some of your blogging friends to feature your novel in a blog post? Blog tours are like digital book launches, and can attract attention to your ebook.

KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING
When you upload your ebook through Kindle Direct Publishing, consider taking part in the KDP Select program. KDP Select requires you to solely publish on Amazon for a minimum of three months. While you are in this program you can host ‘free’ days, where you offer your ebook for free. If you schedule and promote your free days well, your book will rise in the ranking (My Zombie Dog hit #1 in Children’s Spine-chilling Horror) and the more people that download it, the more book pages your novel will turn up on the ‘customers who bought this book also bought’ section. KDP Select also offers your book to Prime Members to loan. You get paid a royalty each time someone borrows your book. Once the three months is up, you can decide if you want to continue in the program. I found this program very helpful for promoting my book, but I’m now keen to make my book available on iBooks, Nook and Kobo.

'LOOK INSIDE...'
When you upload your ebook, I recommend using the ‘Look inside this book’  function and having the first couple of chapters free (you’ll find this in Author Central). In this time of ebook markets being flooded by poor quality products, it allows the reader to check that your book is properly formatted and your writing is tight and clear.

GOODREADS and SHELFARI
You can also add a free sample of your ebook on Goodreads. At the very least, make sure your book is added to the Goodreads database. This is another place to get reviews. There is also Shelfari, I don’t find it as popular as Goodreads, but it does add content to Amazon.

Once your page is up, you’ll want to tell people and give them the link. You can do this on your Facebook, Twitter or Google+ page, just be wary of over-blasting your novel. People won’t want to connect with you if all you do is sell. Be interested in your followers and friends online, and be generous, offer them links to helpful articles or promote other people’s books that you think they might like. Then, and only then, you can also let them know about your book. A good rule of thumb is to leave it a couple of hours before linking to your book again.

BOOK TRAILERS
Creating a book trailer for YouTube and providing a link to your Amazon page will also help. They’re very easy to create, but if you’re uncertain, check out How to Create a Book Trailer in 9 Easy Steps.

EMAIL
How often do you email people? You should set up a ‘signature’ that appears automatically at the bottom of your emails, it can include a thumbnail size picture of your book cover (big picture files are annoying in emails because they take time to download) and hyperlink it to your Amazon page. People are curious, they will want to know more about that book cover in the email you send.

BUSINESS CARDS/BOOKMARKS
One more thing, get some business cards or bookmarks printed up featuring your books. Share them when you attend writing festivals, libraries, or anywhere someone asks about your book or what you do for a living. Make sure it includes the information they need to find your book online.

Whether you take on all these suggestions, or just a few, the main point is you will need a marketing plan to promote your book and yourself as an author. If you still can’t decide where to start, check out this post on The Book Cover Cafe, print the chart Anthony provides - it’s very extensive!

Charmaine Clancy
WAGGING TALES - blog for writers
Author of MY ZOMBIE DOG
 

Thank you Charmaine. It's wonderful to have you posting about your personal experience with publishing and marketing My Zombie Dog. Thanks for all those links!

And don't forget to check out our Self Publishing Page above. There is a selection of excellent links to make self publishing easier.




Wednesday, 18 July 2012

GREENER PASTURES WRAP-UP, Upcoming Guest Post and Next Challenge!

Hey RFWers; thank you to everyone who participated in the Greener Pastures Challenge.  A lot of really good concept writing was submitted.  This Challenge was eligible for Featured Writer and Runner up award; and as such had a few special rules added:

-          word count up to 600
-          prose or prosetry
-          1st posting only judged

. . . and since I forgot it was scheduled for Friday the 13th when I set up the Challenge, I threw in a last minute $3 gift card to one lucky, randomly drawn winner who managed to use the superstitious theme within their excerpt.  But lets get to the wrap up and see what tales were told (in submission order) . .

Denise – posted a continuation of last weeks’ Stuck in the Middle concept, focusing on Marsilia this time.  Marsilia is considering moving on from her marriage to Greffon, and all signs point that James is about to be a replacement. James has turned up the charm – and smothering-type attention – to win her.  A wiser Marsilia may focus instead on the new relationship growing within her . .

Donna – wrote a new excerpt, with a gritty older male POV, who's love is tied to his deceased wife, and the routine that drove their relationship.  The new love, developed from mutual loss and a steady pharmaceutical purchase, has enough similarities to his deceased wife that the differences are a constant reminder of his former love.

Sally – wrote a poem of abiding love in the aftermath of war.  A family saga, that followed the life of a pretty young maid through maturity, marriage, divorce and in the end, full circle to the first love.  Life was the second love in this heart warming tale.

Adura – poetry was completely unique in “replacing” an old, well loved image with a newer version, a yearning for the 'good old days' reflected in old photos. Is the changing world better?

Kiru – wrote an intriguing excerpt of broken promises, and a life long edict to be “the good wife.”  At the moment of truth, the work mistress that distracted her husband became the wife’s new mistress also.  Justice chilled with wine – on Friday the 13th . .

Rahul – a newcomer to our RFW ranks; made our hearts bleed with the callousness of the wife’s final goodbye.  But who was at fault we wonder; the wife who tired of sleeping alone in the luxury provided, or the husband who finally remembered the love that inspired his climb to the top?

Crystal – also posted a new excerpt, focusing on the stagnation of marriage and a woman with a demanding career.  A modern tale of changing roles, a missed opportunity, and an unexpected twist at the end to seal the theme.

Andy – stretched his writing abilities outside his usual box of poetry and adoration of the feminine mystique with a heart breaking narrative of love interrupted by fate.  As our scarred beauty confronts her destiny, whose life will change – or end - with her forsworn despair?

Madeleine – posted a short, poignant snippet from her novel that depicts a heart unwilling to move on, though all the charm and affection of a favored friend are not completely unnoticed.

Heather – took a risky spin away from the norms of her world, and ended up somewhere much less pleasant than the status quo; proving that sometimes the same-old same has its own rewards in continuity.

Radwa – a recently new member, wrote of deep pain and the renewal of love, life and the birth of a new day on the bay. The tides of life endlessly wash out the old pain, leaving clean sands for a fresh beginning.

CandiLynn – is also a relatively new member, writing of the sacrifice of one love for the other, an elemental dream exchanged for the trappings of mortality.  When the tides of the dream wash ashore, and a decision must be made, it is the heart’s mistress that makes the final choice.

Anna – also continued her story from the Stuck in the Middle challenge; with a heart breaking decision to return to what has been lost and found, or carry on into the uncertain future.

So there it is, a recap of the submissions for Featured Writer, Runner up, and the bonus $3 Amazon gift card.

Denise and I have collaborated extensively over wine, sun bleached beaches, and the virtual world of e-mails, and come to the difficult decision of choosing the winners in all three categories.  And here is our picks (without drummroll or fanfare) . .

Although some thought Donna's post integrated the Friday the 13th concept by mentioning the lingering memories of the deceased wife, the post did not embody the essence of the superstitious date with any freaky bad luck, or even mention the auspicious date.  And while many of the excerpts were of a darker nature, with open endings left to reader interpretation, only one blamed the date for the bad luck.


Congratulations Kiru; I will e-mail you with the gift card within the week.  If you don't receive an e-mail from me, please nag me in an e-mail, as sometimes I forget.


Next is the Runner Up award.  This is awarded to a member who just didn't quite make the cut as Featured Writer, but only because it came down to a choice, and a final decision HAD to be made.  There can be only one Featured Writer.  


The judging criteria for Featured Writer was pretty stringent for this challenge.  WE (meaning the hosts Denise and Donna) required writers to stay within a 600 (or less) word count, adhere to prose/prosetry writing style (no poetry), be well polished on the first submission (no revisions based on comment feedback), and incorporate the Greener Pastures theme (some amount of contrast between old love/new love).   The rest, as the saying goes, is up to interpretation.


And WE agree that the wide variety of interpretations all stayed within the Greener Pastures theme.  


  • Abstract: ideas: Adura, Kiru, Heather, Crystal, Radwa
  • reminiscent perspective: Donna, Sally, Rahul, Anna
  • the here and now: Denise, Madeleine, Andy,
  • paradigm shifts:   CandiLynn, Madeleine
Every concept was unique in its interpretation.


The Greener Pastures Runner Up posted within the required word limit, stayed (mostly) within the perspective character's view point, was a complete scene with a beginning/middle/end, oozed that all important romantic element, and was so well developed WE took a mini cruise on an imaginary bay liner (boat).  Congratulations CandiLynn; you are RFW's Runner up for Challenge #40, Greener Pastures.  Please proudly post the RU Harlot on your blog, with the title of the post you received it for.



Our Featured Writer did all of the above, AND went that little extra mile to stretch his writing skills not only outside of his chosen genre, but also outside of his normal writing style, to post a writing specifically for the RFW Challenge.  This dedication to craft truly deserves recognition.  Andy David, please accept the RFW Featured Writer award for your dedication to craft, and your unique perspective on a difficult writing challenge.


WE would like to thank everyone who took the time and effort to not only post a writing excerpt, but also to polish and present with heart and style.  Thank you all for your contributions to Romantic Friday Writers.



Next Monday, July 23rd, we have a special Guest Post by new member Charmaine Clancy. Charmaine will be letting us in on many of the tricks of publishing your own ebook. There's an especially helpful section on Book Covers. Don't miss it!

And let's start working on our stories/poems for our next Challenge -  Three Things You Could Have Done Better. There's no special guidelines for this prompt - those suggestions offered are only that - inspiration if you need it. Write it your way, but it must relate to the prompt and contain a romantic element...

CHALLENGE NO 41




It's not always easy to say how you feel, so sometimes it's a good- or really very bad idea- to write it down. What has happened in the past to lead you to this point - pen poised, hovering over notepaper? Maybe you communicate better on paper than face to face...maybe you should have acted differently...but should you be sitting here writing it all down...should you be jumping in the car, heading off to see him/her face to face, sort things out? Your call, your story - just make sure there are Three Things You Could Have Done Better.


And Members - be looking in your e-mails for an opportunity to shout out your writing goals/accomplishments in a special post at RFW (publication date to be announced).  Denise is working on an e-mail to collect RFW member achievements.  If you would like to submit your writing accomplishments - from publication, to agent achievement, to writing goals on a work in progress, be sure to sign up on the member linky thumbnail in the right column.

Speaking of writing accomplishments - please take a moment to notice some links in the right sidebar under the member thumbnails for easy targeting of publishers, magazines etc for submission of your work.

Be sure to gather here again on Monday to read Charmaine's Guest Post.


Thursday, 12 July 2012

#RomanticFridayWriters Linky Sign Up for Greener Pastures





get the InLinkz code

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

RFW UPCOMING CHALLENGES - GREENER PASTURES and THREE THINGS YOU COULD HAVE DONE BETTER

Hey everybody; are you ready for a special challenge?  Your hosts are ready too.  We want to reward RFWers for all their excellent writing by giving away the Featured Writer and Runner Up badges for you to display on your blog.















Much as we'd like to, we can't reward EVERYONE, so for Challenge #40, we want you put forth your best writings for GREENER PASTURES.




This prompt is about long-term love; perhaps suffering a mid-life or 7 year itch crisis. The couple recognizes it is time for a change; but how drastic does the change need to be to rekindle the relationship?  Who wants the change; husband, wife, mutual?  Who would suffer the most from either a break up, or from the status quo?

For older lovers:  perhaps this is the retirement of one or both, or one is suffering a physical or mental health change.
For mid-life lovers:  perhaps this could be an empty nest syndrome, or a male mid-life crisis, or female menopause.
For younger lovers:  perhaps there is an unexpected pregnancy to upset the balance; or a career change –promotion or firing or company move; or the sheer boredom of routine.

What we want to see is when the romance loses it shine, and the eye wanders, but what our disgruntled lover finds so appealing in another is the qualities that the old flame has lost.  Does he/she realize this on their own?  Or does the jilted lover or new love point it out?  How is the situation resolved?  Or is it too late?

This is a special challenge, something to get your writerly teeth into, so it has special guidelines:

To be in the judging for Featured Writer, you must be a member (sign up on the thumbnail linky) and follow these guidelines:

  • Word limit is upped to 600 words (although you're welcome to stick to 400 or less if you wish!)
  • Any POV - first, second, third person
  • Prose/prosetry
  • Judging will be based on the FIRST WRITING ONLY; meaning, if  you edit or revise based on initial feedback, the re-write will be disqualified. Only the original will be entered into the competition.  Once the link is posted, it is the final submission version. It is fine to improve your piece for publication elsewhere, but for judging for FW just leave your original post up.

The usual guidelines also apply:
  • Does it have a Romantic Element?
  • Does it follow the theme?
  • Is it within word count?
  • Is it polished?
Once you've written and published your challenge post to your blog, add your direct link below, then come back and check often to read and comment on the other challenge submissions.

Good luck everyone; and remember to have fun with the Greener Pastures Challenge.

Linky will go up on Thursday morning EST for the super keen, super organised ones! You will have till Sunday to craft your entry.




Challenge #41, THREE THINGS YOU COULD HAVE DONE BETTER is scheduled for July 27, and will return to our usual Romantic Friday Writers challenges, with the 400 word maximum word count.



It's not always easy to say how you feel, so sometimes it's a good- or really very bad idea- to write it down. What has happened in the past to lead you to this point - pen poised, hovering over notepaper? Maybe you communicate better on paper than face to face...maybe you should have acted differently...but should you be sitting here writing it all down...should you be jumping in the car, heading off to see him/her face to face, sort things out? Your call, your story - just make sure there are Three Things You Could Have Done Better.



Friday, 6 July 2012

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WRAP-UP



This weeks submissions for Challenge #39 STUCK IN THE MIDDLE were awesome!!

I was a bit worried that we would have no poets this challenge, because Our criteria was slightly different in that it involved an observer to the love affair, not the couple themselves.  We should not have doubted the creative skills of our poets though:

Sally's emotionally sensitive poem stirred my social worker heart.  So often I see this scenario in my day job.  The sentiment, the adultified child, the family angst; all captured the Stuck in the Middle theme perfectly.

 Genskie is new to RFW, and her first submission was a poem of forgiveness for a father that already had a family he was stepping out on.  A poignant, evocative poem of cheating, ethics, and choices.

Adura's poetry gave a different twist to the theme with a wife/mom stuck in between her husband and his son.  The conflict was sympathetic, the emotive plot heart wrenching, and the character personalities vividly realistic.

Several of our contributors chose to submit fitting/or reworked excerpts from their published novels:

Ruth's (from a novel she is currently polishing for publication) interpretation of the theme included engaging characters and a scene plot with the stuck in the middle character as a middle-man/go between type.  And, he's a ghost, closely tied to both the lovers.  Although his realm of influence is limited, his powers of observation are clear.

Roland posted an excerpt from his latest publication New Orleans Arabesque.  Victor sacrifices himself for the love of Capt Sam and Sam's reunited wife Meilori.  Poor Sam and Alice are stuck in the middle as Meilori disapproves of Sam's son Victor, and Alice would as soon send Meilori back to the darkness that her sister captured her in for years.

Francine posted an excerpt from her novel Love Walked In, and is from the perspective of a 14 year old boy internalizing the virtues of a potential new step dad.  The poor kid had a lot of people's opinions to mull over, not to mention his own conflicted thoughts of what would make his mother truly happy, despite the discomfort of the rest of the family.

Kiru chose a snippet from her steamy novel An Engagement Challenge.  Kiru's excerpt focused on a love triangle.  A dual stuck in the middle with our lover moving on to a new relationship; but still wondering what would happen if she explored her erotic attraction to a one night stand.  Not only does Kiru introduce the conflicted emotional ties to both men, she also adds a bit of intrigue over what the relationship between the two men is prior to their connection to our displayed lover.

And of course lets not forget our contributors that reviewed the criteria (and I'll specifically NOT mention those that were over word count or posted a love triangle in any category), and created a special writing for this particular challenge:

Crystal's characters were engaging, well developed within the flash fiction and theme criteria, and displayed a unique take on the stuck in the middle theme as the prospective character is offered a viable love alternative for her "silence" after the crime family linked boyfriend has left her.  Lots of intrigue for a continuing story.

Linda (Scheherazhad) entry included a physical stuck in the middle concept as her characters embark on a surprise road trip to visit the MC absent boyfriend.  To sweeten the concept Linda placed her character as witness to her best friends cheating on their respective relationships, forcing our character to literally sit between the two to limit contact.  Hubba-hubba.

Heather's submission was told from two POVs; that of the little brother looking forward to the return of his older sister - which in turn means she will bring home her boyfriend who has become a "big brother" to our perspective character.  And also includes the internal conflicts of the Sister, as she wonders how to break the news to her family that she has broken up with someone all considered a family member.

Celeste (Weissdorn) also used the physical/emotional stuck in the middle concept with the perspective character sitting at a couples dinner, literally sitting between her best friend's new lover, and the ex.  And of course the new love is perfect, handsome, and definitely not the old love, which our perspective character remains loyal to through out the story.

Denise's excerpt was a continuation from last challenge, and showed our obsessed lover in the midst of a love triangle; desperately trying to recapture the lost love by a look-alike replacement.  And then, the ex returns . .

Donna used the perspective of a step-daughter running from her mother's house, and an argument over the ex with the new hubby; and ending up stuck in the middle of a similar argument between the step-dad and his  new love.

Rekha's excerpt explored the cultural repercussions of a break up, and the testing of loyalty according to gender and social standing.  A short but intriguing mystical look into a unique setting and circumstance.

Anna used a love triangle with a twist of having the past love unexpectedly and inconveniently appear at the moment when our lover finally gives up and moves on to a new life, and a new love.

You may have noticed I did not mention Joy (JL Campbell) as yet, and that is because I wasn't sure if her excerpt was a new writing for RFW, or if it was a sneak peak from one of her novels.  The characters were so well built, with intrigues, a past, and a present so intricately combined that I felt these characteers and their situation had to be a part of a larger work.  Our perspective character is stuck in the middle of several conflicts; his divorce proceedings from the ex, a new lover his mother doesn't approve of (mom loves the ex), and the lingering effects of the separation of his own parents on his social and  moral boundaries.

So that's a wrap for this challenge.

Our next challenge Greener Pastures on Friday, July 13, is also another complicated set up with some special rules to assist in judging the Featured Writer and Runner Up awards.  We'll post the specific judging criteria Denise and I expect to use for the FW/RU awards when we post the official announcement, but for now, you have two weeks to write, polish, and schedule your Greener Pastures excerpts using the following criteria:

 This prompt is about long-term love; perhaps suffering a mid-life or 7 year itch crisis. The couple recognizes it is time for a change; but how drastic does the change need to be to rekindle the relationship? Who wants the change; husband, wife, mutual? Who would suffer the most from either a break up, or from the status quo?

For older lovers: perhaps this is the retirement of one or both, or one is suffering a physical or mental health change.

For mid-life lovers: perhaps this could be an empty nest syndrome, or a male mid-life crisis, or female menopause.

For younger lovers: perhaps there is an unexpected pregnancy to upset the balance; or a career change –promotion or firing or company move; or the sheer boredom of routine.

What we want to see is when the romance loses it shine, and the eye wanders, but what our disgruntled lover finds so appealing in another is the qualities that the old flame has lost. Does he/she realize this on their own? Or does the jilted lover or new love point it out? How is the situation resolved? Or is it too late?

This is a special challenge, so it has special guidelines:

To be in the judging for Featured Writer, you must be a member (sign up on the thumbnail linky) and follow these guidelines:

  • Word limit is 600 words
  • Any POV - first, second, third person
  • Prose/prosetry
  • Judging will be based on the FIRST WRITING ONLY; meaning, if you edit or revise based on initial feedback, the re-write will be disqualified. Only the original will be entered into the competition. Once the link is up, it is the final submission version. It is fine to improve your piece for publication elsewhere, but for judging for FW just leave your original post up.