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Meet the Author Monday with Joey Paul

Meet the Author Monday with Joey Paul

Hello Lovelies,
 ​​I am delighted to introduce you to Joey Paul, an indie author, exploring the young adult crime genre. She has released nine books in total so far, with the tenth and eleventh due out in the summer of 2017. Her current works include the “Dying Thoughts” series, which is eight books. She usually writes crime and mystery fiction, with a paranormal twist, but she has been known to dabble in contemporary romance and general fiction. She is writing her seventeenth and eighteenth books at the moment, having recently finished her last two.

Joey is disabled and a recent graduate from The Open University with a BA (Hons) in Health & Social Care. When not reading medical textbooks, she enjoys reading crime novels, medical dramas, and young adult novels. When she’s out and about, she likes looking for Tupperware in the woods with GPS satellites, otherwise known as geocaching. And when she’s not doing THAT, she’s sleeping! She’s 35 and has been writing since she was retired from her job on medical grounds at the age of 19. She plans to write for as long as she has ideas or until someone tells her to stop!

So excited to have her here today! Welcome to An Angell’s Life, Joey. How are you?

I’m doing okay actually. It’s 1 am and I couldn’t sleep and since I’m behind on my TV shows I figured I’m make the most of the time and get some serious watching done as well as catching up on interview stuff! I may also get onto some writing since I’m behind in that too! The life of an author, sleep is optional so long as you have tea!

Lol, in my house sleep is optional, so long as you have coffee and chocolate! I can relate. What is the current book you are promoting?

I’m actually preparing for two releases right now so I have one that is the fifth in my series – Dying​​ Thoughts – and the other that’s a standalone. I normally only release one book a year, but I’ve been busy at the keyboard and as such have had a backlog created so decided to go for two books this year and it’s busy busy busy!
Dying Thoughts – Fifth Secret is the continuation of Tara’s story. Tara has a gift where she can see the last moments of someone’s life when she touches something that used to belong to them. In the fifth book, she’s been getting some creepy notes very similar to the kind her mother received before she was murdered when Tara was six. Her mother had the same gift and it’s gonna be a wild ride!It’s Not Always Rainbows is a standalone dealing with LGBTQ teens who are working to solve a string of murders in the community. They face many struggles along the way, but are determined to get to the bottom of it when it seems like the police aren’t asking the right questions.


Wow, both of those sound awesome! What is your next project?

I’m actually working on two books right now. One is the second in a trilogy that kinda sprung out at me from nowhere. I was writing what I thought would be a standalone and it turned into something bigger, and so I’m writing the sequel to that as well as the first book in a brand new series. I recently finished my last series after fifteen years of writing it and was at a bit of a loss, but then the idea for this one popped into my head and bam, I was writing!


I completely sympathize! I am going through that right now with The Survivalist Bible! Who is your favorite fictional character and why?

I have so many favorites, simple because I read SO much! If I had to narrow it down completely to just one (which is hard!) then it’d be Kinsey Millhone. I love her because she’s been stuck in the 80’s for the past twenty odd years as Sue Grafton only writes one book a year, and she still kicks arse at solving crimes and tying up mysteries!

Kinsey is pretty awesome, and so were the 80s! Where do you come up with your stories?

I have an overactive imagination. I’ve been told that for a long time, as a kid it never was said as a compliment, but now that I’m an adult it works really well for coming up with stories! Some of them have been knocking around for years while others have been thought up on the fly and then turned into something bigger and greater than I could have ever imagined.


What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?

That writing takes time, energy and a lot more work than some people realize. That even though you’ve written the book, it’s not finished and won’t be finished for a long while yet. It took me a while to realize that writing “The End” does not mean you’re done!
So true! Well, thanks for coming out Joey. Are you as intrigued about all the paranormal, thrillery, mystery-murdery goodness Joey is laying down? Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Tumblr to see more. Want to know what awesome books Joey is reading? Follow her on Goodreads. Want to learn more about her books, and be notified as books come out? Follow her website and Amazon page
Joey will be back to join us in just a couple of weeks, as she is getting ready to release the fifth book in the Dying Thoughts series, and her main character will be gracing us with a character interview! How much fun will that be? 
Stay tuned! 
Until next time, 
Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Amongst the Killing by Joe Compton

Genre:

Suspense/Thriller


Synopsis

There are 2 sides to every story…For as long as he could remember Detective Charles Street wanted to be a police officer, moreover a Detective. He wanted to be knee deep in the action, working the biggest cases, and reaping the biggest rewards. He also didn’t think when his dream job came a calling that it would ever turn into his nightmare. For as long as he could remember Jack Casey just wanted to be free, his own man to do what he pleased when pleased. He too craved the action and when his dream life came a calling, he didn’t think he would meet anyone his equal and definitely didn’t think he could ever have difficulty leave the world he loathed and mocked behind. Amongst The Killing documents each of their stories, told in their own words, as the moments unfolded when their paths first crossed and their lives intersected. How two men, with two different philosophies, could be so different and yet so connected.As the ultimate cat and mouse game unfolds, each has to deal separately with the others decisions and the effects it has in turning their lives sideways and upside down. Will one of them crack? Will one of them even succeed? Ultimately the journey may mean more than the game and show both of them the outcome neither was ever expecting.


My Take:

Joe Compton does an amazing job catching the unique voices of Detective Charles Street and Jack Casey, serial killer at large. Unlike Girl on a Train, I had no problem telling which character was speaking at the start of each chapter, and admired how at certain points, the two voices were eerily similar (clearly intentionally done by the author!)  This story really sticks with you. I actually had to take a break from reading it at one point because it gave me nightmares! 
Why? Because Jack Casey seems relatively normal. Hearing his internal monologue is very reminiscent of listening to my teenage son talk. He is quite Machiavellian, but some of the brightest people I know score quite high on the Machiavellian tests. It gives credence to neighbors of serial killers who say “He was quiet, polite, seemed like a nice guy.”  And that, to me, is far scarier than the “crazy” versions of serial killers often portrayed in Hollywood. 
I loved that the ending was unpredictable, and (if you pay close attention) there is a unique little twist that was very unexpected for me. The wrap up felt a bit rushed and tied a little too neatly, but I love the teaser for the next book! 


You guys! Guess who just got a signed paperback copy of Amongst the Killing? Cannot wait for the next Detective Charles Street book. 
Interested in learning more? 


Until next time, 

Keep Reading!

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Marketing in as little as 30 Minutes a Day

Marketing in as little as 30 Minutes a Day

This post was last update 7/5/2020

Hello Lovely authors,

The life of an author is a constant struggle for balance. For most, that balancing act includes a full-time job, family, social commitments, writing, and then when writers hear “marketing” they throw their hands up feeling overwhelmed and demand that they don’t have any time. I’m here to show you how to add marketing to your schedule in only 30 minutes a day so you don’t have to give all your time to it.

Setting Goals for your Marketing

There are hundreds of places to put your time in marketing. Which place will achieve the best results will require careful analysis of consistent work for months at a time. To achieve that, you have to set up a plan and stick to that plan. Deciding your plan requires goals. Are you new to writing or need to build up a following? Are you promoting a new book? Are you building a backlist? Do you need more reviews? Analyze your time and then plan your strategy accordingly.

For example, I work from home, so it is not a problem for me to dedicate 2 hours a day to marketing. But I also work several side gigs, so I can’t spend half my day marketing and advertising like Mark Dawson does. For some, you can only put in 2 hours a day for “book stuff” period. You don’t want to spend all of that time marketing. You need to write more books, right?

A good suggestion is to commit about 1/3 of your “book time” to marketing, 1/3 to networking, and 1/3 to writing. That’s the rule I follow, but it’s up to you how you want to spend your time.

I know some authors who lump marketing in with networking and do half their time writing and half their time marketing. Again, it’s all about the goals. Once you have them established, (and it can’t be vague like “sell more books” it needs to be a smart goal.) you can plan the events and activities to support those goals.

Plan for Help to Maximize Your Time

The first key to maximizing your limited marketing time is to learn about automation tools to support your efforts. For example, if your goal is to build up a social media following then you will want to learn about tools like PromoRepublic Hootsuite, or Buffer, which allow you to schedule automated messages to engage with readers at all hours, even if you can’t be online at all hours. These messages should be a balance of 80% fun stuff and 20% “promotional”. I set mine up about once a week, and then just check into my social media feeds for about 15 minutes at breakfast, lunch, and before bed. This is such a great tool.

My goal is to appear “more connected” and responding several times a day aides that more than only spending an hour in the evenings, as some authors do. I am cheap, so I used the free version of Hootsuite for posting to Twitter, Facebook, and google plus, and then the free version of Later to schedule one post a day for Instagram. (Then I caught a really great deal on Appsumo for PromoRepublic and now I manage all my social media through there. LOVE IT. But you work with the tools and options you have available to you now.)

If your goal is to grow your social media followings, look into tools to help manage that. There are quite a few fantastic tools that will tell you who followed you, who unfollowed you, who you followed that hasn’t followed back, who is inactive. (Why have them keep taking up follower space. You unfollowing them doesn’t drop your follower numbers, just theirs.) and who hasn’t interacted with you in a while. I made the mistake early on with Instagram in not finding a tool. I followed back everyone in my niche and interacted and engaged with their content and had very little return engagement. I was inflating some “influencers” numbers and then they would turn around and unfollow me without me knowing. Suddenly I found myself seriously upside down with my follower count and couldn’t figure out why. I love IG, it is my safe happy space, but it is also one of the vainest sites out there. The more I learn the crazy extents some Influencers go to manipulate their feed the more I prefer to just be a casual user. #SorryNotSorry.

You may consider hiring a marketing coach to help you formulate a plan and consult when tweaking, or a Personal Assistant to do mundane tasks that pull you away from the work you love.

You can use great tools like Book Brush and Canva to make creating content super easy and reasonably priced.

To learn more about social media and tools to help you stay organized and make it easy, don’t miss out on Social Media 101

Other Marketing Options

If you want more control over your audience, you may decide to take up blogging. For my blogging, I write my blog posts on Fridays the week before. Then I schedule my posts to go live the morning of. So convenient. Then I schedule those posts during my social media planning.

Perhaps you don’t have time for blogging. You are only focused on collecting and keeping readers on your e-newsletter list and building the list to sell books. For e-newsletters, you can automate a welcome email that goes out when people subscribe at the back of your book or at an event. This lets them know who you are as an author, and how often they will receive e-newsletters from you. Then schedule your e-newsletter for what works best for your e-newsletter following. For many authors, one e-newsletter a month is enough. Most simply plug that into their calendar of choice, to automatically remind them they need to prep content for that and send it out.

Even if your e-newsletter goal is to sell books, you need to provide content for your followers that’s more than just “Buy my books” or you will find yourself quickly losing followers. I have seen some authors who give a free short story each month, and I love following those. Others provide a monthly e-newsletter with bookish news not just related to their books, like new releases, signings, book events, etc.

Building up Reviews

If your goal is to build up your reviews or plan a book release, you can e-mail bloggers each day. For the book release for Angel’s Dance, I was working full-time outside the home. My schedule had never been so tight. I emailed three bloggers every night and planned my tour 8 weeks ahead of the tour start date. It worked.

If you aren’t planning a tour, you still want to find something to tie your request to, in an effort to add urgency. For example, when I am looking for more reviews for my series, I tie it to a new release, or to a promotional sale. Again, three or four emails a day will get you into blogs and will only take up about a half-hour of your day.

When I was working full time, I was trying to build up my online reputation. I spent my lunch breaks emailing and calling newspapers, radio shows, podcasts, and bloggers to get that progress knocked out so I could devote my evening time to writing. I couldn’t get much writing done in a half-hour, but I had no problem knocking out my marketing.

The importance of Tracking

None of us can do all of the marketing things all of the time, which is why it is so important to track and gauge what is working for you and drop what isn’t so you can move on to something else that will work. For example, when I was working full-time, I threw money at Google display ads, but it wasn’t working. I tweaked and adjusted, and fiddled and played with it, but after six months I realized that I didn’t have the time to deal with it properly and that it wasn’t producing results.

Rather than beat myself up, I switched up my tactics. Even now, I re-evaluate and adapt my tactics about every three months or so. Tweak if needed, and drop things that aren’t working. Be sure you are committing time for research into the tactic, and putting tools in place to measure your results. For example, during my last blog tour, my goal was a proliferation of the market and SEO for specific keywords related to my series and genre.

I built posts around those themes, and titles around those keywords included the hashtags for the bloggers taking part. Those hashtags and keywords were in my Thunderclap and Headtalker. During the tour, I tracked the trending keywords, shared the guest posts through CoPromote, and watched what was driving traffic to my website.

I was also looking to build up my e-newsletter list during the tour and ran an Instafreebie (now known as Prolific Works) around the first book in the series. Tracking all of my results let me know what was and was not worth the effort.

If I had run around doing all that work, and then only tracked the sales, I would have quit. My launch produced less than $1,000 in sales. But because I was tracking all the other stats, I realized that my e-newsletter list grew by 350%, my social media followers grew by 75% across all platforms, I got within the top 100 for trending keywords with both my genre and my series title, My Headtalker went out to over 1 million people, my Thunderclap went out to 1.5 million. My guest posts got over 150 shares, were shared to over 70,000 people (that I could measure through CoPromote), and my web traffic saw a beautiful uptick of about 115% throughout the whole month. Not to mention, I got great evergreen content that I can add to my social media feeds.

Recap

Overnight successes don’t happen overnight. They happen because that author has a strategy and they invest in that strategy. Even if it’s only 15 minutes or an hour a day. Eventually, you will get that marketing rock up the hill, gain ground, and it will get easier. But you have to start, and you have to keep building, or you’ll never get there.

Do you need help planning marketing goals and strategies? Schedule a free consult. Have questions or thoughts about this post? Share in the comments below!

Until next time,

Keep writing!

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Self-editing Tips and Tricks to Save on Editing Costs for your Book

Tips and Tricks to Save on Editing Costs

This post was updated on October 14th, 2021

Hello Lovelies,

Editing. The hardest part of being an author. By FAR! And the place that you will find the most scammers out there to make a quick buck. Seriously, there isn’t a site I’ve been to that doesn’t have tons of people peddling questionable skills to authors. I have seen so many authors get badly burned because they hired sub-par editors, or they hire top-notch editors (who are worth a pretty penny!) without having done any self-editing of their book and end up paying through the nose.

So, let’s talk about each step of editing and some free ways to address it so your editor spends less time doing the work, and in turn will charge you less!   If you are traditionally published by one of the big houses, your book will go through several editors before it goes to print. There’s a process, much like sanding, and if you do not get each step, then you are missing out. While you can go back and forth between steps, step two cannot truly be done until step one is finished, and step three cannot truly be done until step two is finished. 

As we review each step, I will share what an editor does for that step, and things you can do to self-edit your book before sending to that type of editor that will help save you money.

Step 1. Developmental Editing

The first step is general editing. (Also called content editing, revisions, story editing, developmental editing, substantive editing, re-writes, etc.). This is where the editor goes through the story and catches plot holes, recommends what needs to be cut, re-written, added, etc. This is where character development and motivations are analyzed, where genre tropes are explored. It is carving your vision from the rough wood, or refining the best of the story.

How can you save money on an editor for this step?

After you hit “the end”, shelf your book for a few days or weeks, then start fresh reading it focusing specifically on story development. If you find issues address them. Rinse and repeat until you are able to finish without any changes being made. But you can probably see a host of reasons why this is not ideal. One, you can only fix what you know to fix. Two, it is very time-consuming. Three, you know things about your character and the story that maybe never made it to paper but you have it in your brain and even with time off, those elements may still impact your story. 

I personally do this developmental self-editing step for all of my books, in two ways. First, I re-read what I wrote my last session to get me back in the groove for my writing session. As I am reading it, I can catch obvious iussues. Then, once the manuscript is done, I put it away for a week and then do a full read on a weekend when I don’t have anything else planned. I find the longer I give my “memory” to reflect on the story, the less likely I am to catch issues so a quick read-through works best for me. Then, rather than shelving and going for a 2nd go in another week, I will actually do the 2nd option for self-editing.

A second option that is very helpful is to get someone who isn’t an editor to do a read with some guidelines. A lot of authors work in peer groups and this is a great (usually free) resource.  Others use Alpha readers. This is a good place to have your mom, or cousin, or friend read through and point out issues in the story. If you aren’t working with a professional group, (or even if you are, depending on the quality of the group) you want to send a list of questions to your alpha reader to answer as they review, so that they know what to look for. Here’s my favorite Developmental self-editing checklist, and I post it at the beginning with a thank you note, and then add it to the end of each chapter, to encourage regular commentary. (FYI, I totally use this list during my own pass-through. It is that handy!)

For the reviewer: Please provide responses to at least five of the questions below:

  • Is the writing clear? (Did the author provide the key info regarding tense, POV, use of language to enable you to follow their writing with ease?)
  • Can you visualize the settings and characters? Is there too little or too much description?
  • Does the story flow well in terms of time, POV, setting – or does it jump from scene to scene?
  • Are the characters believable for their age, occupation, time period?
  • Is the dialogue natural or forced? Is any dialect easy to follow or does it distract you from your reading?
  • Are there too many or not enough dialogue/action tags? Can you follow the conversations easily?
  • Are there any sections you skipped? Why?
  • Are you confused by any parts of the story?
  • Did you feel the emotion of the story? Were you drawn into the character’s world?
  • Is there enough intrigue, conflict, tension, emotional pull to make you want to read on?

Feel free to comment on other aspects also, such as voice, style, use of language, character development, structure …and so on.

Thank you,

 

The struggle of crowd sourcing this step is that:

  • It can be time-consuming.
  • You cannot guarantee the quality of the responses you will get.
  • You risk your work getting exposed before it is ready.

I make sure for this step that I am using people I really trust, and I keep the group small (Ideally at least 3, never more than 9) and they all sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). You will still want to make sure that the editor you hire will also cover this, but your goal is that there will be very little work required at this step so that they don’t have to take as much time covering it and what time is spent on it is taking your good book to make it GRRRREAT!

I’ll be honest, when I quote line editing projects, if I see a lot of content issues, I won’t even offer a line editing bid. I will recommend that they submit a developmental editing sample so I can give them a quote on that. I have seen books where they clearly hodge-podged editing issues and it is sad. On the other hand, while I am doing line edits if I catch dev edit issues I will mark them as well. 

Another thing that I do, which I think is unique. I always provide links to additional content when I make recommendations. I am a teacher first, editor second. 

Want to get a free Developmental Edit quote?

Step 2. Line Editing

Also referred to as copyediting, stylistic editing, second edits, or for lazy editors “editing”. This is where the shape of the story gets more cleanly refined. The rough sanding to pull out the general form you created, gradually getting finer until your woodworking project has come to life….. er, your story. Right, we’re talking about editing!

The editor will go line by line to make sure the sentence structure is correct, the grammar is correct and the meaning is clearly conveyed. They will recommend word changes, writing in active voice, or removing sentences that are repeating information.

9 times out of 10, when you get an editor who says they “provide editing services” without breaking those down, this is what they are referring to and unless you clarify, you will get nothing more. There are some clever tools that you can use to self-edit your book for the editor so that they don’t have as much work to do (and in my case, will charge you less) such as ProWritingAid and Grammarly.

However, one of the concerns I have about these tools is that they are only as useful as the hands that wield them. Grammarly is great for technical writing and online copy, but it doesn’t take into account stylistic choices that are seen in many works of fiction. ProWritingAid is a bit better, in that it actually analyzes your text and makes a note to where words are overused and makes stylistic recommendations, but it’s not skilled at specific genres. Both tools are better than nothing, but just like with Word, you still need to know enough to make the right choice in the end. After you run through these programs, you still want to hire an editor, but as you get the hang of it, these programs are great because they will help you write better as you learn the skills. Then you will find that the cost of an editor will drop significantly.

Just as with dev edits, when I am editing for a client I will cite resources that explain the rules. I always use track changes or suggestion mode because at the end of the day your work is your work so it is up to you which rules to follow and which to ignore. 

For clients on a tight budget, I also offer my line edits chapter by chapter so as you learn things from the previous chapter you can incorporate them throughout the rest of the work before me and save yourself even more money. 

Want a free Line Edit quote?

The Final step: Proofreading

The final step is proofreading. The internet has LOTS of differing opinions on exactly what proof reading entails. The gist is that proof reading is a last read-through to catch any final errors. A lot of editors do this pre-layout, but in my humble opinion (and in traditional publishing) it should be done after layout (and in each format you are publishing in) to catch any missed bits. The benefits to doing this after you complete layout is that the proofreader can look at the product as if they were a customer. They can catch not only misspellings, homonyms, and punctuation; they can also “double-check” layout. Consider it a final buff, polish, and seal on your project to make it as shiny and appealing as possible.

Having someone who can catch all the writerly bits as well as spotting funky layout on the page, such as widows and orphans, and the general appeal of the final product will allow you to produce the best final version possible. If you are tight on budget, Beta Readers are a great tool for proofreading. I would choose 5 top readers, and provide them with instructions on what you are looking for and how to notate it.  

If you are sending them a post-layout copy (as you should), ask them to keep a running journal and note the version they are reviewing. (E-pub, PDF, Paperback, Mobi, etc.) Then have them track the errors as such: chapter/page number the error occurs, paragraph number, sentence number, and what the error is. Easy, peasy.

Want a proofreading quote?

Final Thoughts Before Hiring an Editor

I work as an editor in fiction and non-fiction. I have published over a hundred books in my career, and written and published over a baker’s dozen. After 20 years of experience, I still hire an editor for my own work. I have actually had people question my editing skills for this. But the reality is any editor who is also a writer will tell you that they do the same thing. We all have blind spots. We all know what we mean to say and so even when using tricks like “read it aloud sentence by sentence from end to beginning” to catch line errors, some slip through because our brain cannot be tricked. 

Some would say “Eh, but it is better than what a lot of others are producing. I see errors in traditionally published books. Surely you can give yourself a pass?” Except I don’t want to produce better. I want to produce great. And don’t call me Shirley! (Blame my husband for that horrible pop culture reference!)

I strongly recommend that an author gets as many eyes on a project as possible before going to publication and I live by my advice. No book can ever be perfect. But the goal is to have it as perfect as possible.

I do provide all three forms of editing services, but I will not provide all at the same time. Although you can hire me for all three, I will only accept such contracts for all three if the author has utilized other resources (such as the ones noted above) and I require two weeks off between stages to “scrub my brain” so to speak. If you have an editor who does offer all three services in “one pass” you should question the quality of those services.

What are your questions about editing?

Are there any free tools you use?

Let us know in the comments below!

Until next time, 

Keep Writing!

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Building an E-newsletter list Part 4 of 5

Building an E-newsletter List part 4 of 5

Hello Lovelies,

Hopefully by now, you understand the importance of having an e-mail newsletter, You’ve done the broad planning of what you will offer, and you’ve chosen a service provider. (If you missed out on the rest of the series, it is as follows: the importance of having an e-mail newsletter,  the broad planning of what you will offer, choosing a Service Provider, and What goes in the Welcome Email, Just Because You Build it, Doesn’t Mean they’ll Come. be sure to see the whole series.)

Now what?

You need to craft an automated responder to your new subscribers. For those who subscribed to see how mine looks, you won’t necessarily have so much to say. (I also have different autoresponders depending on how they got to my e-newsletter.) The key to the auto-responder length is to give them just enough to keep them subscribed, without annoying them to the point that they unsubscribe. A fine balance that you will need to A/B test to make sure yours is most effective.

So what should you say? Well, first you want to thank them. Then you want to let them know a little bit about who you are. Don’t just assume that they will know. Let them know about your books. Last, let them know what they can expect from your e-newsletter.

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When I was doing B2B CyCon in 2016, I signed up for a bunch of e-newsletters as part of entering for prizes and such. I got some really interesting responses.

A few were obviously new and their genre manager coached them on the importance of using this as an opportunity to build an e-newsletter list. They emailed me directly from their personal email accounts. And that was actually what inspired this whole segment, to be honest.

Some were really… awful. But there were some really great gems.

One, a brand new author who emailed from his gmail account, actually did a lot right! He reminded me how I happened to come across him and then immediately said “ If you’d rather not be on my list, just reply to this email with the word “Unsubscribe” in the Subject line.,” (Can-Spam requirement, check!)

He shared his book cover and a sample from the book and let me know when the next book was coming out. (Telling me about his books, check!)

Unfortunately, it’s been four months and he hasn’t emailed me since.

Another author, Zachery Paul Chopchinski, stole my geeky little heart with his intro:

The Official Bowtie Author Newsletter

Welcome

Any Whovian subscribing to a steampunk author’s newsletter and getting this intro would have their little heart skip a beat!

Then he made sure to get me in the geeky feels:

Hi Friends, First off, I want to welcome you to the fold! There is a secret handshake, though…we will have to go over that later, since it’s a little hard to do over email.

Secret handshake? The fangirl is swooning!

He told me about his book, offered it for free even, and about his future publishing plans, then sealed my staying on the list with this adorable ending

Until next time friends,

#BowTieAuthor out!

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Yes, that’s him with a bowtie! And all in blue, like so not even subtly drawing a comparison to that big blue box! SOLD!

He emails monthly and every email is as delightfully geeky!

But none of them quite got the whole formula right. So I decided to lay it out for you.

First Step- Thank You

You want to thank them (And if you are doing an event or something that leads to subscribers, mention that’s where they met you. If you are doing instafreebie, mention that’s where they found you, etc. This is where creating tags and multiple auto-responders comes in really handy!)

Second Step- Introduce yourself

Now introduce yourself. Make it fun and charming, and as perfectly to your genre as Zach did!

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If you have more than one book in a series, go ahead and give it away free to get them started if you want. But if you don’t, give them a chance to buy it. Zach was probably just following the advice on pretty much every single blog out there to give them something good. But he already did that with his intro. He didn’t have to give me his book too. Now he won’t get as many sales (FYI, I totally bought it and can’t wait to read it. But most readers won’t think like that.) 

Do you want to give them something, but you’re on your first book like Zach? Give them a popular icon in the genre, like a free copy of a classic book. Give them a taste of your writing by sharing a short story or a bit that got cut from the original story, or a character one sheet (Make it fun. Make it really fun by casting your book with celebrity actors!) But if you only have the one book out, don’t give them that book.

Third Step- What’s in it for them?

Now, you want to let them know what they will be getting from this newsletter and how often. Something none of the folks from B2B got right, but Andy Peloquin nails beautifully with his intro (Which I can’t quote because I no longer have it, DARN!) He lets you know that he will send monthly short stories from the world of Voramis, along with progress on his works, books he’s reading, and any other fantasy fun that crosses his desk. (Leaving him open to share all his fun during his signing at San Diego ComicCon and to do newsletter swaps with other Fantasy authors. Well, played, sir. Well, played!)

Fourth Step- Tell them about your book

Now you want to let them know about your book(s) and where to find them. After all, that’s the main purpose of the e-newsletter, right? But don’t be heavy-handed, just give them the brief introduction and 1 link, (If you sell on multiple retailers, a nice way to get around leaving five million links is to say “Available at all major retailers, or from the author’s website” and link to your book page. Another great option is to use the Draft 2 Digital universal book link.)

If you have not published yet, that’s ok too. Tell them about your work in progress. Don’t make the mistake I make ALL THE TIME and give them an unrealistic deadline for when you will be done. Setting deadlines is great for keeping you motivated, but breaking deadlines is a great way to lose fans. Ask Cristopher Paolini. He lost a LOT of fans when he was almost a year late with book 2 in the Inheritance Cycle.

Final Step- Make Them Feel Special

Lastly, leave them feeling special. Whether that’s a fun signing off, like Zach used, or a free short story, like Andy uses. Leave them with warm fuzzies so they don’t scroll to the bottom and click the unsubscribe button that has to be there thanks to Can-Spam.

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And there you have it. Automated responder set and ready to go.

Have you experienced any great or bad autoresponder e-mails? Let us know in the comments below.

Until next time,

Keep Writing!

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On Facebook Launch Parties

Hello Lovelies, 
How many of you got to attend the launch party for The Hunted? ​​SMLXL It was three days of bookish madness, and parts were absolutely awesome, parts were a little chaotic, and on occasion it was a bit stressful! I think most of the stress was backstage and the attendees mostly had a good time.
But at the end of the event I was left feeling drained and a little disappointed for many reasons (not the least of which probably being that it was the end of a huge book launch push and I definitely need some time to recharge my batteries!) 
We had (according to Facebook, anyway) 42 interested in going, 142 who went, and 1K invited. There were times of frenetic activity and others with nary a peep. It was a lot of emotional ups and downs! 
And I have heard from several authors that they feel that Facebook parties are no longer a good way to meet new readers. That the effort isn’t worth the conversion of new followers, fans, or sales. 
I am still combing through all the figures and trying to figure that out from the data, but you know what is the best data? Hearing right from the readers, YOU! I put together a poll at the end of the event and only got five people’s information (not sure how many were just readers, and how many were readers/ authors.) So I am asking you guys to let me know your thoughts as well. 
Because at the end of the day, I don’t do Facebook parties to stroke my ego as an author. I do them because as a reader I have enjoyed them. But I don’t want to waste time doing events that readers don’t like. The last several Facebook parties I have attended it feels like an author circle-jerk. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading and I know a lot of my author friends do too, so marketing to authors has never seemed like a bad idea to me. But I want to find fun things for regular old readers too. Folks like you 😉 
So I would appreciate you taking five minutes to let authors know your thoughts on Facebook parties. What things do you like to see, what things don’t you like to see? Or would you rather just not attend. Here is the link to the form where you can share your thoughts. 
Until next time, 


Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Melkorka by Joshua Robertson

​​ 

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Synopsis: Branimir is a slave to the mighty Highborn. Unwittingly, his masters forge a copper dagger capable of destroying the Ash Tree. Drawn along on the quest to remedy the mistake of his masters, Branimir becomes the most unlikely of heroes in an inimical world of magic and mayhem.


My take: Such a short description for such an awesome book! I am loving this series so far! I cannot wait to read the next book (alas, I must because there is an arc that needs reading 🙁 ) Branimir is the cutest darn character and I kind of adore him! Dorofej is this interesting blending of Yoda, Merlin, and your creepy senile grandfather! Two of the least likely heroes to ever cross your path, yet despite their seemingly incapacity, their moral compass guides the group to stopping an evil created by the seemingly good intentions of the Spearhead of Melkorka and his faithful sidekick Falmagon. 
The Svet are such a unique re-imagining of centaurs. The Vulcari are a creative take on shifters. The Bukavak are deliciously evil. And the Dyndaar Wood… Oh, I can’t give the story away! 
The author weaves a unique world that, while similar in style and fantastical elements to much you will find in fantasy, is delightfully original in terminology and implementation! I have fallen in love with the world he has so intricately woven. The world of Aenar seamlessly envelopes the reader in a fantastical clashing of good and evil, where even the most righteous can be led astray, the most powerful can crumble, and the most humble can save the day!

Take a peek inside!

 

Eager to read the next three books in this series! 

See my review of Dyndaer and Maharia

Learn more at Goodreads


Until next time, 
Keep Reading!

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Event Marketing & Networking

Event Marketing and Networking

This post was updated July 1st, 2020

Hello Lovelies,

As much as authors complain about the pantsing vs plotting debate, get frustrated trying to overcome writer’s block, and argue about the Oxford comma, we all know that writing is actually the easiest part of being an author. It is the part we love as much as we hate. The hardest part for most authors is the business side of writing. From whether to incorporate, whether to buy your own ISBNs, where to publish- the business end is HARD. Two of the hardest parts for most authors are A. Marketing and B. Networking. Marketing is tough, even for those of us who love doing it. *Heidi waves to the crowd* 

It takes a lot of resources and time. And figuring out where best to put your limited marketing dollars is a trick of the ages, let me tell you! But one of the best places I have found for marketing is at conventions, particularly conventions geared around books.

Book Events

I have gone to some great conventions over the years, Y’allfest, Aiken’s Makin’, Dragon con, Momo con, AWA, SLC Comicon several times. Most conventions are 2-4 days long, renting booths at the bigger conventions is not cheap, you also need to pay people to manage your booth if you plan to be on any panels, get a chance to eat or go to the bathroom, or get to enjoy other parts of the convention! Those conventions can get pretty darn expensive. If I broke even at a convention I counted myself lucky. The most I ever made was like $900 profit. Brutal.

And conventions mean crowds. Even as an extrovert, I would be completely sapped after a convention and need two or three days to recover. Most of us authors did not choose the writer’s life because we love hanging out in crowds, am I right?  Still, there is something amazing about live conventions and being able to go to author-focused conventions like Storymakers, 20 Books to 50K, and more are a great place to network with business professionals and grow.

Online Book Events

 My first experience with online book events was B2B CyCon.  Online events are phenomenal because you get the benefit of marketing at a convention without the massive expense. You get the benefit of rubbing elbows with readers without literally having to rub elbows! There are tons of awesome events that will provide you with evergreen marketing content that you can keep sharing.

The first B2B CyCon I attended I ended up adding over 100 subscribers to my blog, adding almost 400 people to my social media sites (across Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google + and Goodreads!) and that was with less than 1,000 attendees.

One of the best parts of B2B CyCon that seems to rarely get talked about is the networking. Why is networking important, you ask? I met a ton of awesome authors and groups through B2B CyCon, including Joe Compton of Go Indie Now, Joshua Robertson of Crimson Edge Press, Angela B. Chrysler of Brain To Books, Kori D. Miller of Back Porch Writer, Richard Mulder of SciFan Society, Karina Kantas of Author Assist, to name just a few. I also met tons of amazing authors who have been kind enough to share their platforms with me as I announced book tours, sales, and promotions. Those authors in turn introduced me to other amazing networking opportunities such as 20 books to 50K, Authors Supporting Authors, Support Indie Authors, Instafreebie, and many many others.  When we all lift each other up together, we see tons of indies hitting bestseller lists all over the country. We see indies really making an impact on the publishing industry.

Don’t give up! I believe in you all. A {writer’s} a {writer}, no matter how small! And you very small {writer} will not have to die if you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!

Heidi Angell’s interpretation of Horton Hears a Who.

That networking helps in many ways, not the least of which is sharing one another’s audiences and helping with book events. Your colleagues are also great to talk with about what is and is not working with marketing, where to find beta readers, cover artists, and other services. The greatest support I have found is that when I am feeling overwhelmed, and like I can’t handle the writer’s life anymore, these amazing authors rally around to offer support. (I know I’m not the only one! This writing life can be SO HARD, right?)

  One of the benefits of Covid-19 is that a lot more conventions have chosen to have online events this year. So be sure to jump on this fantastic opportunity to grow your network of authors and readers.

What online book convention are you a fan of? Let us know in the comments below.

Until next time,

Keep Writing!

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Book Review- The Triplet’s Curse- Hope’s Story by Marsha Black

Trioplet's Curse Hope's Story

Genre:

YA Urban Fantasy


Synopsis: 

When the moon is full

High above the Earth

Three daughters shall be born

On their 16th birthday, their destiny will begin

One daughter, born with the knowledge of the future, yet blind of those closest to her


As Hope’s 16th birthday nears, weird things happen. Then on the night of her 16th birthday, she awakens with a scream. An unbelievable nightmare becomes her reality, and she questions her sanity.Bryce, a new guy in town, arrives to help.In order to survive, three must work as one, or all is lost.Will Hope learn to use her ability in time?


My Take:

I received an advanced reader copy for the purpose of review. And man, am I glad I did. This story is the first in a three-part series about three sisters who are cursed. Hope is definitely a character I can relate to. Grade oriented, not really part of the popular crowd, and with no desire to be, she is just a normal teenager struggling with getting along with her sisters, looking forward to getting her license… and having the joy of always being thrust into the spotlight she hates, because she is one of the only sets of triplets ever born in their small Wisconsin town. 

​​Then she meets Bryce. Oh, Bryce. I can’t decide if I like him or not. I mean, he’s ok. At least he’s not the sullen brooding boy that seems to be the hot “it” thing in YA UF of late. But (and I think this is true to his character, as opposed to the bad writing I’ve seen from other authors) Without Hope, he is kind of nothing. I mean, literally, this kid has been raised in a cult society, his sole purpose of existence, to find the triplets from the curse and aid them in training and preparing to battle evil. We get a brief glimpse of this young man who doesn’t really believe in his mission, and kind of isn’t happy with his life, but then the spark happens (No, y’all it is a LITERAL spark, sounds SO cool. I want to see a movie version of this JUST to see the spark, lol) and suddenly he is a born again convert to his cult’s beliefs. Which, is probably a good thing or poor Hope would’ve been screwed. 
But it would’ve been fun to see him maybe buck the system a little bit? I have hopes, thanks to some teasers for the next books, that one of the heroes/ heroines might, though. After all, Fate can only do so much, am I right? 
So, yeah, each book is about one of the sisters, and their coming into their power, as far as I can tell. I loved the baddie in this one, and the way it was revealed. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming, but at the same time, it was a surprise. The author did a great job balancing the reader’s knowledge and expectations. And holy crap, the teaser at the end for the next book!? As soon as it’s available for preorder, I am ordering it! 
If you enjoy stories where the hero is fated to save the world, with a dash of romance, and a splash of snark, then The Triplet’s curse is definitely for you.

Take a Peek Inside A Triplet’s Curse- Hope’s Story


Until next time, 

Keep Reading!

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Book Review: Man of Cloud 9 by Adam Dreece

Book Review: Man of Cloud 9 by Adam Dreece

Genre:

High Tech Science Fiction


Synopsis: 

Genius. Conscience. Consequence.

When Niko Rafaelo was 17 years old, his parents and brother were killed, and he committed himself to two ideas that would shape his future that year. The first would lead him to create a technology that would revolutionize the world. The second would lead to the unravelling of his world.

Set 70 years in the future, where the world has been ravaged by the climate and political unrest, the story centres on Niko and those closest to him. Like an addict, Niko’s unable to stop himself from seeing his vision through, despite the sacrifices and consequences.
“a truly unique voice…will keep readers obsessively turning the pages from the very beginning all the way through to the very end” – Tracy A. Fischer, Readers’ Favorite
“It’s rare to find a hard science fiction novel that is so personal, so intimate. “ – Erin Sneath, GoodReads.com
“Adam Dreece continues to surprise, enthrall, and sweep us, his avid readers, along – with his elegant prose and insightful story telling. If you, like I, enjoy the scifi/fantasy genre – you can’t do better than The Man of Cloud 9.” – Rene Auberjonois, Avid Reader, Actor (ST:DS9 Odo)

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Heidi Angell Books (@heidiangellbooks)

 

Heidi’s Hot Take:

Wow, I absolutely loved this book! Rene Auberjonois was right, this is a unique and insightful story with a fantastic take on the future world grounded in modern technology and very realistic! I absolutely loved following Niko in his visionary ventures dealing with a world that had become afraid of technology and had banned certain lines of development because of their fear. 
Adam Dreece creates a very realistic future dystopia where technology has been halted in many aspects because we grew faster than we were ready, got burned, and were afraid to take further risk. Being the wife and mother of tech heads, I really appreciated Niko’s frustration with “regular people” and his desire to keep his worlds separate. The crazy risks he took because he believed so inexplicably in what he was doing, his single-minded focus, and even in the way that his behaviors alienated him from those around him and put everything at risk, all rang true. 
One of my frustrations with a lot of stories is that the plot is often based on lack of communication (and yeah, it’s realistic, but at the same time the characters don’t demonstrate why they are inefficient) and I find myself yelling at these characters because the problem is so obvious that even they must know that it is their own darn fault and should stop doing that stupid thing. (For example: If Gibbs would just take 2 seconds to explain, instead of expecting everyone to just trust him, we would lose half of NCIS!) 
But in Man of Cloud 9 we understand Niko so well and even though he knows he is creating a lot of his own problems, we actually “get” why he does it. (And no, it isn’t just because he is a techno geek and lacks social skills. It is so much more deliciously complex!) 
This story was so delightful in its depth and focus that I could not wait to give it to my eldest son (the tech head) for Christmas. Dreece expertly weaves a story with multiple layers. The technical struggle is enough to excite any Sci-fi enthusiast, the moral dilemma is a teasing thriller throughout to draw us forward, and the complex relationship struggles are enough for any fan of drama to stay hooked. 
On a side note, I got a glorious tickle when he mentioned “The Yellow Hoods” a couple of times in passing, as this is actually another series that Adam Dreece wrote that falls in the Fantasy realm. I also got a laugh when he mentioned a fellow author friend, Angela B. Chrysler. It was fun seeing how he pulled from his real world and added it into The Man of Cloud 9!
I must mention that the editing did suffer a bit towards the end, but not to the point that the story lost understanding, and not really enough to pull me out of the story. 

Want to see some of my other content around Man of Cloud 9? 

Check out my book unboxing video

and don’t miss a sneak peak into the main character Niko Rafaelo 

Are you intrigued?

Grab your copy of Man of Cloud 9 today. 
Until next time, 
Keep Reading!