The Quirky Ladies is a group of eclectic (and dare I say quirky?) ladies who are passionate about writing romantic fiction. All types of romantic fiction...paranormal, fantasy, historical, erotic and contemporary. Bring it on!

Friday, January 29, 2010

A New Year's Gift

        T.S. Eliot writes April is the cruelest month or so he laments in The Waste Land, but I'd have to go with January. After the festive chaos of the holidays and ringing in the New Year, January arrives with a bleak, reverberating silence.  

      Friends and relatives have returned to their winter hibernation. The holiday sweets and food you have gorged yourself on now weighs down your butt and loads you up with guilt. You're then confronted with those pesky resolutions you made while ringing in the New Year. You're going to lose weight (that lasts about a month or so). You resolve to understand your in-laws (that last about a week). And of course, you will finish all those projects that you've procrastinated on forever. (You jot a 'note to self' to start tomorrow).

        A recent study showed that 22% of people gave up their resolutions in the first week. By March, more than half of the rest of the resoluters fell off the bandwagon.  It makes one empathize with those glib folks (my husband included) who proclaim their resolution is to not make any more resolutions.

        I may not carry out all my resolutions, which often are a 'ditto' of the prior year, but each time I make them, I feel as if I'm given a chance to turn a page and write a new outline for the year. January may arrive in a bleak follow up to December's brighter festivities, but it also heralds in a new year and with that, comes new beginnings.

        The month was named after Janus, the mythical god of beginnings.  Perhaps last year, things didn't work out the way I wanted.  I might have gotten another rejection on my latest submission, or I might not have finished my work in progress, or I might have shied away from pitching my novel at a writer's conference.  With such setbacks, I'm ready to climb into my cave and hibernate for the rest of the year --or plead along with Green Day to Wake Me Up When September Ends or, in my case, next year. 

        But during January, we can pack away last year's failures and start anew.  Yesterday's disappointments sail into history, for with the New Year, comes hope.  We are given a clean slate and a second chance to achieve our goals, either through small resolutions or bigger steps.  For all the gift giving in December, January's gift of a new beginning is most special.

        So as January comes to a close and we move into February, we must grasp onto this gift and as Thoreau says, "go confidently in the direction of your dreams."  For if you don't try, you won't succeed.  Or as the queen of romance says:

        "If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place."
- Nora Roberts

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hints from the Promo Queen

After announcing the unexpected news that my debut novel Sweet Inspiration was a bestseller at Fictionwise, various folks began to ask me what I did to promote my book. Since the jury is still out as to my actual sales, you can take this advice with a grain of salt. Also note, Sweet Inspiration was only available as an e-book, but the suggestions are still applicable for any on-line sales, including print books at Amazon or other locations. Here are some suggestions from the Promo Queen (I can't believe a found a photo of a dachshund wearing a crown!).

1. Don't wait around for your publisher to contact reviewers. The sites might be backlogged, and your review may come out 6 months after your book is released. That's good for long-term sales, but not helpful for your launch day push. Make sure you contact your own reviewers 3-4 months ahead, and schedule the reviews to be posted 1 wk before and several weeks after launch day to create buzz. How to find reviewers? Look for romance review blogs, ask your author friends (and make sure you offer to reciprocate), contact larger review sites and fill out their applications. Whatever it takes. As soon as you have good reviews rolling in, you can post them on your website, and announce them through twitter, facebook, etc.

P.S. No, you cannot insist that the reviewers write you a sparkling recommendation. Yes, it is nerve-wracking not knowing if the review will be good. Believe in your book and have faith. Readers realize that everyone has his/her own opinion about things. Don't send your sweet, rated-G YA novel to an erotica reviewer. Use common sense.

2. Run adds for 1-2 months prior, and 1-2 months during release. Pick places with high traffic and visitors who read ebooks or your particular genre. I splurged on All About Romance, and ran my banner there for the entire month of December. It's worth the investment if it gets you sales and exposure. Don't waste your time/money running ads (even if they are cheap) on places that are cluttered with banners and ads, or visited mostly by authors and not readers. Ads are fairly simple to make. You can either just take a jpeg of your book cover with a link (use your website if it's prior to the purchase link being released). Moving gif banners are also awesome website designer made me a gorgeous one.

3. Don't forget the golden must reach readers!!!! It's OK to run promo on your publishing loops, but it's more important to reach readers. Try reader loops/bloggers who specialize in your genre, and have a lot of followers/traffic. However, be warned. Self-promoting on the reader boards at Amazon, AAR, Barnes and Nobles is not a good idea. Self-promotion is forbidden on some loops. Read the rules and regulations carefully before you post.

4. Contests are good! Why? Because it draws in readers, and announcements for contests get posted on a lot of other sites on-line. Lots of exposure! You could give away a $5 or $10 gift card from Amazon, which is not too high of an expense. Tie in prizes with your book theme... I gave away xmas ornaments, hot cocoa, cookies, etc--all tied into the theme of my Christmas story.

5. Post your cover, your blurb and don't forget a good excerpt. People want to see what kind of writer you are, so choose your excerpt wisely. Post on facebook/myspace, twitter, your blog, your friend's blog, your website, etc.

6. Get a Goodreads acct! Pronto! Goodreads is can do self-promotion without looking like a jerk. Make an author page so you can post book info, excerpt, trailers, announce contests/launch day, etc. Goodreads is viral....if you get one good review, "friends" read it, add your book, discuss on ami boards (there are a lot of cross over people on ami and goodreads, also AAR)--do it!

7. Invest in a good website designer. You want your website, ad banners, book trailers to all look polished and professional. You can post your book trailers on youtube and place links on facebook, websites, etc. You can do these things yourself, but make sure it looks professional. If you make a nice banner, ask your author friends to post it on their webs/blogs too if possible...

8. Book bloggers often post covers with the release date on their side bars. This is awesome free publicity.

9. Set up interviews and guest blog posts. Make sure most are on high-traffic reader sites. It's OK to do some author sites too. Everyone has his/her own followers and you might get into a new "crew" of folks! Make a big calendar with your schedule, try not to overlap or over schedule. Spread it out. Make sure you send confirmation emails, thank you notes to everyone, even people who might give you only mediocre reviews. Always be professional and polite.

10. Even mediocre reviews are helpful. Don't get into a sparring match with a reviewer you disagree with. It's totally uncool and unprofessional. Remember...what goes around comes around.

11. Do things to set you apart from the creative! My 5 Klaus brothers "took over" my blog for 5 weeks prior to launch day, gave away prizes, readers got to know the brothers and wanted more. It really drummed up interest, and the unexpected benefit was that it helped me get to know my characters better!

12. Visit other blogs and leave comments...your url is attached, so you will get visitors to your blog. However, don't waste too much time with this! The internet addiction can eat up a lot of time (and I should know!--that's new year's resolution #6).

13. Post about good reviews, good news to keep up buzz. Make it fun and interesting. Don't just say "I got another 5 star review!" Take a fun snippet out of the review ("The Klaus brothers really cranked my Christmas tree....5 stars!") and use that instead. Make it fun and creative.

14. Google yourself. Find out if anyone is talking about you/your book....then post good stuff!

15. Make your blog news snippets, reviews of books you're enjoying, do mini interviews, run contests...have fun with it. It should not be too much work or too stressful!

16. For those of you with print books: Don't waste too much time scheduling book signings, etc. Focus on on-line sales. A lot of people buy their books online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. Always include purchase links when discussing your book....either to Amazon, your publisher, etc.

If anyone has any other good promo tidbits, please let me know!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Pit Stop at Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem

I'm at Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem today being interviewed. Guess what creature I said I'd prefer to be if given a choice?

I hope everyone is pleased with how 2010 has begun for them. I know I am.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy 2010 from The Quirky Ladies!

Happy 2010!!! Time for a new decade, new resolutions, and hopefully new dreams to come true this year. Here's a round-up of some "quirky" goals....

Vicki: Enter some contests and finish Changing Fortunes. (and drink a lot of delicious martinis with Penny...okay, I added that part)

Dalton: Recover from Holiday 2009! And to publish a sequel to Illegal Moves. (yay!...I think I might print up some Team Seth T-shirts!)

Tara: Tara wants to send her finished WIP to a few contests (go, Tara!), start a new manuscript and complete it by her October birthday, find more time to relax and de-stress(I hear martinis are really good for that!), go on at least one dream vacation, and stick to her new diet and exercise regimen. (Criminy. I'm exhausted just reading that.)

Michelle Polaris: Finish Magician's Chains. Finish sequel to Bound Odyssey. (Start collection of thigh high leather boots. hee hee hee. Okay, I added that part, too.)

Kate Macarthur: Survive construction project in one piece, get her son enrolled in preschool, and start writing the romantic suspense she's been threatening. (hurry up, I want to read it!)

Michelle Picard: Start the third part of the Eden Series. (I'm ready for 2. I'm ready for 3. I'm ready for Gabriel to stop by for a martini....)

Sam Wayland: Finish Destiny Calls and Breakaway Love (the third in the hockey series). (I predict a big party in 2010 for Sam's first publication! Woo hoo!)

Penny: Okay, it's my turn. Write Sweet Magik, the 2nd part of the Klaus Brothers Series. Finish Diabolical, the botanical mystery/romance I started last year. Try to avoid a severe kindle addiction which threatens to take over my life.

Here's to a wonderful, amazing and inspiring 2010!