Monthly Archives: March 2016

5 Tools To Help Promote Your Book

The other day I was asked by a fellow author what programs/websites/etc. I used in my promotional efforts (not including paid advertising), and realized that it might be a good post for the blog. I think that as indie authors, we just assume that other indies use the same stuff and know all about the latest and greatest.

So, in the hope that there might be something useful to you writers out there, here are 5 promotional tools I’ve been using:

bookfunnel logo

BookFunnel: First off, I want to give a huge shout out to BookFunnel for making life soooo much easier. Bookfunnel is the website to use if you give out free books like ARCs (Advance Review Copies), or lead magnets for your email list. For a small annual fee, they will host your EPUBs, MOBIs, and PDFs, and—best of all—give readers download instructions. They take over when a reader has trouble getting the book onto their Kindle, Nook, other e-reader, or tablet. I’ve heard nothing but good things from folks who use the help function, and it’s freed up a lot of writing time for me. You can create as many expiring links as you need for your books, and they’re working on all sorts of cool stuff for the future. They have also been incredibly responsive when I had questions. Highly recommended.

calibre logo

Calibre: There are a few places online that you can use to create different e-book formats for giving out to reviewers or if you have a contest with an e-book as a prize–not the least of which is your KDP dashboard to download a MOBI, or your Nook, Smashwords, or D2D dashboard for EPUB files. But if you want to be able to tweak the end matter and links and have a way to keep track of your files, I would recommend using Calibre. Calibre is free, downloadable software that allows you to convert your source book file from a .docx, HTML, EPUB, or MOBI into whichever format you need. Pretty darned handy.

bigstock logo

Bigstock/Pixabay: I’ve used BigStock for royalty free (but not free) images for years. There are scads of others, but for some reason I usually find what I’m looking for on BigStock. For free images, I use Pixabay. (Be aware that the top line of photos on Pixabay are sponsored imagespixabay-logo that aren’t free.) You can easily find something to use, as they have an extensive, searchable database of free photos.

 

DesignFeedLogo

DesignFeed: I’ve used Canva before, but I didn’t like having to cough up $1 for every image I wanted to use—and not just because I’m cheap frugal, although there’s that. Mainly because I don’t like giving my credit card number out to every Tom, Dick, and Harriet. But that’s just me. Luckily, I stumbled onto a cool new site called DesignFeed. Although still in beta, it’s pretty easy to use. All you need are some quotes from your book, an idea of what you want the background to be, and DesignFeed will create your chosen promo card in the correct dimensions for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest. They even give suggestions, in case you’re stuck. I don’t know about you, but for me that’s a huge time saver. And best of all, for the time being it’s free 🙂 Here are a couple I did for A Killing Truth:

It wouldn't be long now...FBAKT_bw

 

 

 

 

 

Free Advertising: Although free and bargain books don’t garner the number of downloads/sales like they used to, when you’re having a sale it’s always a good idea to list with as many free promo sites as you can. Here’s one list to get you started. It’s been compiled by fellow author Martin Crosbie, who writes for Indies Unlimited. Not all of the sites he mentions have free options, but if you do your homework you should be able to submit to a large number of them for low or no cost.

And there you have it. Five tools to help you when promoting your books. Do you have any favorites? Share them in the comments below!

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Writing a Prequel, or, What the Hell Was I Thinking?

It wouldn't be long now...

 

So A Killing Truth is out (yay!) and early feedback is encouraging, which is a huge relief. Why, you ask? Because the book is a prequel and had two enormous tasks:

1: it had to hew closely to everything I’d written about Leine’s early life in the other books (my thoughts of which tended to be along the lines of Oh, holy crap, what was I thinking???), and

2: it had to strike the right tone and not be just a rehash so that readers of the series would still be intrigued enough to read it. Aka: Reader Expectation.

Okay, so let me dig a little deeper into the first, seemingly insurmountable task. As many of you know, my writing process is a hybrid of sketching out a rough outline combined with a seat-of-your-pants, cross your fingers and hope for the best, kind of style.

But I wasn’t always that organized 🙂

For example, when I wrote Serial Date, most of that novel came out in a torrent of mad writing sessions with a freaky dream as the catalyst. It’s filled with all sorts of, “Hey! Let’s make Leine loath tattoos. Why? Hell, I don’t know, maybe something happened in her past.” Followed by, “Well, what happened? I know! It should have something to do with an old target named The Frenchman, who of course almost killed her.”

And do you think I left it at that? Nope. Then I had to think of a reason that Leine and her old boss were no longer on speaking terms-the reason she left the Agency and ended her career as an assassin. What could Eric (her boss) have done that was so heinous that she should have killed him off? And why didn’t she? So I created what I thought would be a good explanation and left it at that. But I hadn’t thought through the logistics because I didn’t have to.

You know, because the book was going to be a standalone.

Bonus writing tip: Always think of the book you’re currently writing in terms of an over-arching series, even when it’s not. Because dollars to donuts, if you don’t, it will become one, guaranteed.

Female showing on map vintage photo

Must. Plan. Next. Time.

 

Okay, so readers wanted more Leine and I was happy to oblige, but I wanted to tackle current issues. Although the subject of Serial Date is reality shows, which is a current phenomenon in our culture, the book has an irreverent, satirical tone and I couldn’t figure out a way to satirize human trafficking without coming off as an asshole.

You see my dilemma.

So, I changed the tone of the second book (Bad Traffick) to hard-hitting, traditional-ish thriller and we were off! (Bonus writing tip #2: Always think of the book you’re currently writing in terms of an over-arching series. This includes consistency in tone.) I added a few more details to Leine’s backstory throughout the next three books, this time with the idea that I would someday write a prequel.

And here’s where it gets gnarly. The horrible transgression Eric committed was having Leine do something she would never, ever do if she knew all the details.

Leine’s a smart woman. In A Killing Truth, she’s at the top of her game as an assassin and takes pride in eliminating the worst of the worst. Eric had to make sure she was off-balance and would more likely make a mistake, or at least not be aware of his duplicity, which could royally mess with his plans.

Luckily, after much tooth-gnashing and pulling of hair, I was able to craft a realistic scenario that would incorporate all the little clues my subconscious had deposited throughout the series. I even had a couple of aha! moments that I surely didn’t see coming. Which brings me to Task #2.

Reader Expectation.

The only way I knew to be sure the story matched or exceeded reader expectation was to write a fast-paced, explosive plot, with Leine as the central character. Yes, she’s younger and a bit less damaged (until the end), but the narrative tone is still vintage Leine, ensuring that longtime readers of the series won’t be disappointed.

I refuse to post spoilers here but if you’ve read Serial Date, you’ll have an idea of the heinous thing Eric has Leine do in A Killing Truth. And since I’m not a fan of back story in my novels you’ll also learn a whole lot more about her early life. And, as promised, I reveal why the hell Leine hates tattoos.

Go ahead and read A Killing Truth and tell me what you think. It’s on sale everywhere for the super-special launch price of $0.99. (see links above, on the right).

Do you enjoy reading prequels? If so, which ones really nailed it in terms of story and tone? If not, why not? Inquiring minds want to know.


A Killing Truth

FINALLY. A Killing Truth, the Leine Basso thriller prequel I’ve been working on, is DONE FINISHED, edited, and has a nifty new cover! 

cover for A Killing Truth

I especially like that the designer used an image of Amsterdam for the background, but also that he nailed the characters: Leine (before she was Leine Basso) is in her mid-twenties and working as an assassin for the Agency. The model is definitely younger than the one used in the other four covers, and I think does a good job of representing her at that age. The guy on the cover is The Frenchman, a ruthless arms dealer mentioned in Serial Date and The Body Market, and the reason she now hates tattoos. And yes, I explain why in the book 🙂

Another character who makes an appearance is her lover and fellow assassin, Carlos. If you read Serial Date, you know what happened to that relationship, but I go into quite a bit more detail in A Killing Truth. Her daughter, April, makes an appearance, as does Leine’s scumbag of a boss, Eric. There are a couple of revelations that I didn’t mention in the other books, which explains their long-running animosity toward each other.

You’ll just have to read it to find out 😀

If you’re new to the series, A Killing Truth is a great place to start, and if you’ve already been introduced to the characters I mention above, then you’re in for a helluva ride. Even if you think you know what’s going to happen…

A Killing Truth is available for preorder for $0.99* on Amazon and Smashwords, and will be available everywhere on March 24. I’m also going to be running a GoodReads giveaway for signed print copies soon, and will post here as soon as that happens.

If you’d like to be the first to find out about new books and special offers, why not hop over and join my Readers’ List? The response to my last newsletter broke my email yesterday 😛 , but I believe it’s all cleared up now, LOL.

Here’s the description:

A deadly assassin. A perpetual target. A double-cross she never saw coming…

They say the truth will set you free, but what if it kills you first?

Before serial killers and drug cartels, Leine faced the ultimate betrayal…

Leine eliminates terrorists for a living. After a routine assassination almost gets her killed, she chalks it up to a fluke. Her lover and fellow assassin, Carlos, has another idea altogether. He thinks their boss is setting them up for a fall.

When Carlos goes missing and a bombing thwarts another mission, Leine suspects the stakes are far higher than she could ever imagine, and wonders if the man in charge might have it in for her after all.

A Killing Truth is the prequel to the award-winning Leine Basso thriller series of crime novels. If you like no-nonsense heroines, page-turning plots, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love D.V. Berkom’s tension-filled series

 

*Price good through Sunday, April 3, when it will increase to $3.99.

 


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