Give Yourself a Promotion

- by Elaine Isaak

One of the hot topics for writers, whether you are trad or indie published, is how to effectively promote your books.  It used to be said in advertising that we know 50% of our marketing works–we just don’t know which 50%.  We’re constantly on the lookout for good information about promotions.  A recent article for writers claimed all sorts of benefits for promotional giveaways, and I was excited–until I realized all the statistics were taken from an industry survey made by the giveway guys.  Sigh.

Nowadays, thanks to various analytics, Amazon’s Author Central, and social media connections, we have access to much more detailed information.  And you’d think it would now be possible to figure out which half of our promotions are working.  And. . .you’d be wrong.

Sometimes, something we do has a very clear effect.  We can watch our Amazon rank take a leap with an appearance on a popular show.  If you can finagle your way onto tv, you’re probably doing pretty well already.  For the rest of us, it’s often a process of trial and error.  For my most recent launch, I made a spreadsheet showing the dates of various specific events like guest blogs, convention appearances and bookstore signings, then I set out to track a variety of metrics:  Amazon author and book ranks, blog followers, newsletter subscribers, Facebook and Twitter followers, sales data from Bookscan.  My hope is that, if I can pay attention to this stuff, I may be able to see when a promotion is truly successful.

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The Three-legged Altar of Luck

- by E. C. Ambrose

Cover image by Cliff Nielsen, book 1 of The Dark Apostle, now available!

Cover image by Cliff Nielsen, book 1 of The Dark Apostle, now available!

I was enjoying a meal with a large group of current writing students, and describing my pathway to publication, culminating in the recent release of Elisha Barber, first in a new dark historical fantasy series from DAW books.  Needless to say, I’m pretty excited!

I remarked that I was surprised to find several people I’d known for years suddenly in just the right places when I needed to reach out for promotional help.  One of the students chuckled and said something about luck. As if luck had anything to do with it. Read more…

Merchandise Me!

- by Elaine Isaak

One of the things I’ve been working on these days is the issue of my literary estate.  So far, it’s not large, but I keep adding to it, at the rate of a novel or two a year  and any number of short stories and articles, published and not.  And so, someday, other people will need to know what to do with the rights for all of these things.

There are lots of useful models for how to establish a literary legacy, from the Phillip K. Dick Award to the Heinlein Society blood drives, to the various Tolkien properties.  I understand this last group has seen some wrangling in recent years about how, exactly, to handle their father and grandfather’s great works.

I’d like to take some inspiration from the first two, and establish a means of giving back to my genre and my fellow authors, as the Dick award does, or to the larger society, as the Heinlein group does, and I don’t mind offering some benefit to my children and their children, and so on.

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When is a novel not quite a novel? When it’s a serial!

- by Suzanne Johnson

I have a new book out today under my Susannah Sandlin pen name, sort of. But not really.

Welcome to the world of serial novels, where the processes we become accustomed to as authors no longer apply.

When one of my publishers responded to a new book proposal in February with “Great! Let’s do it as a Kindle Serial!” I thought, well, why not? I mean, a serial novel is still a novel, right? And it might be fun to try something new. Authors are just beginning to explore the “new” Kindle Serial program (because the idea of a serial novel is not at all new, of course).

My usual process for writing a novel probably doesn’t look very different from anyone else’s. For a couple of weeks after I’ve mentally committed to a novel, I  plot and plan and outline, getting the major plot points sorted out in my mind. Then comes six-to-eight weeks of torture as I push through the first draft. My first drafts tend to be short, fast, and ugly. Then I go back through it, layering in emotion and description and smoothing out any rough plot points. Finally, if schedule allows, I’ll continue to refine the language and edit up until the moment the manuscript is due.

A serial novel is simply a novel released in pieces, I thought.  Turns out, that’s not true–or at least it shouldn’t be. Here’s how the process worked, and how it differed:

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