Category Archives: marketing

KLAW TV Interview

Hey there! Just a quick post to let you know that my interview with Kitsap Literary Artists and Writers for local access TV station BKAT is live on YouTube. You can watch it here:

Looks like I’m about to strangle the interviewer, doesn’t it? Well, you should watch it to find out if I do 🙂  Interviewer Mark Miller went a tad off script, which made things interesting, and I had a blast (even though I was fighting an epic case of allergies that day…)

 

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Where Did Summer Go: Part 1?

Holy cow! Where did August go? That’s the first time an entire month whooshed by so fast I was caught unprepared for the next. When I finally lifted my head up and realized it was September, I decided to take stock of the month to see why I was stumbling around in a daze with my coffee cup held out as I blinked from the blinding sunlight. (I’ve now switched to straight espresso and wear sunglasses…hasn’t helped.)

Cargo 3DAugust 1st saw the release of CARGO, the 4th Leine Basso thriller. Book launches always seem to consume more time and energy than I remember from the last one, and CARGO was no different. Add to that putting the finishing touches on the new website, signing off on new covers for the series, and making SERIAL DATE permafree, not to mention my parents being here for an extended visit, and the first week barely registered.

The second week of August had me scrambling to get everything into place before the big promotional push for SERIAL DATE, which was August 11th. I was lucky enough to score an ad with both Bookbub and EreaderNewsToday and can I just say, WOW.  The amount of downloads was stunning, with sales of the second, third, and fourth books shifting at a brisk pace (including print, eBook, and audiobook). Peripherally, the Kate Jones series also picked up several new readers. I’d decided to make the first in the series permafree across all platforms, and would do it again in a heartbeat. Sales continue on all of the sites, as do new reviews.cover for Serial Date

Which brings me to the one caveat I have in doing this kind of promotion for a free book: you’re opening said book up to a LOT of people who will download and read it, even if it’s not in their preferred genre, which is great and all, but keep in mind that book is, in all probability, going to start racking up some not so great reviews. As of this writing, the book has garnered a few 1- and 2-star reviews from folks who, in no uncertain terms, REALLY did not like the book. I’m absolutely fine with that, since SERIAL DATE has a boatload of profanity and some seriously twisted scenes. Unfortunately, I can’t control what people think (except in my books 🙂 ) and always expect differences of opinion, most obviously with this book. But, be prepared–especially if you’ve written something that isn’t exactly all kumbaya…

Next, I took a break from August 14-16 to drive up to Mount Rainier with my family, where we stayed at Paradise Inn for two nights. We all had a fabulous time: the food was great,

dining room at Paradise Inn

photo of Paradise Inn at Mt. Rainierthe weather was phenomenally clear (we saw the mountain all three days, which is unheard of–she makes her own weather and her peak is generally obscured by clouds),

photo of Mt Rainier

and the hiking sublime.

DV hiking

The first night we went to to a presentation by a couple of visiting astronomers and it was clear enough to see the Milky Way and several different constellations–we were at the tail end of the Perseid meteor showers, too, and saw a plethora of shooting stars. The next day Mark & I hiked the Skyline Trail and got up close and personal to Nisqually Glacier. As an Eagle Scout Mark had hiked the trail many times with his troop, and hadn’t seen the glacier for several years. He was shocked by how much it has receded. Still and all, it was an amazing visit.photo of Mark on Skyline Trail

A day after we got back from Rainier, I flew to Appleton, Wisconsin to attend the fabulous Writers’ Police Academy. Stay tuned for Where Did Summer Go: Part 2 tomorrow…

 

 


Update on The Body Market: Post-Launch

I thought since I hadn’t posted in a while (I’ve been concentrating on researching and writing the next Leine Basso book) I’d give an update on how things are going after the launch of The Body Market. The book’s been selling well and a couple of authors have contacted me privately to ask what I did differently, and whether I think those strategies worked. Since I love to analyze (not in any real scientific way, mind you) I sorted through all the things I did differently and those I didn’t and came to the same conclusion:

I have no effing idea which strategy worked the best.

Now, before you give me a ration of crap in the comments, let me clarify: if someone tells you that yes, this one thing they did caused Amazon’s bots to get behind their book, I’d have to call bullshit. Only Amazon knows how their site works, no matter what someone says. We can all try to guess what works until the moon explodes, but NO ONE REALLY KNOWS (and if anyone reading this does, in fact, know please leave a comment 🙂 )

Personally, I think it boils down to a combination of things: pre-launch hype, backlist, cover, genre, description (including using SEO keywords, and tags.), early reviews, press releases, advertising, social media posts, et al. You’ll notice I didn’t list pre-order, per se. That’s because while I expected Amazon’s pre-order option to work similarly to traditional pre-orders, e.g., all pre-order purchases rank on release day and give the book a bump of some kind hopefully onto a list or two, this did not happen with The Body Market. In fact, after all the work I did pushing pre-orders, the day after launch book sales on the ‘Zon dropped 70%.

gif of plane crashing

Blech. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I’d never had that happen on a launch before and I was pissed.

GollemAnd I didn’t know who or what to be pissed at, except myself. Somehow, somewhere, I’d messed up, but I didn’t have a clue what I’d done wrong. I dropped the price of Serial Date, the first book in the series, to 99 cents and advertised the hell out of it the week of the launch (AwesomeGang, EreaderNewsToday, FB, etc.). The Body Market’s pre-order price was 99 cents, which I also advertised with both free and paid options, although not too expensively (in other words, no BookBub ads).

cat on slide

Trying to get traction…

There was one bright, shiny moment on launch day: when a handful of advance readers who had agreed to read and review the book posted their reviews. They were all fantastic and I’m so incredibly grateful for their support. If not for them, I think I would have crawled into a corner, assumed the fetal position, and sobbed uncontrollably into a glass of wine.

Elaine with a bottle of wineI had one more ad coming out the Saturday after launch, a new release post with Free Kindle Books and Tips. I usually see a good rate of downloads whenever I run an ad with this site (not NYT bestseller numbers by any means, but enough to push the book onto some lists). This time, though, something was wrong. I clicked over to the page where the book was listed and realized I’d toggled the wrong genre. Instead of thriller/suspense, I’d somehow chosen history. I sent a message to the owner of the site, but by this time the email had gone out to subscribers and that first flush of purchasers, if they didn’t read the description and figure out the book wasn’t even remotely history-related, had more than likely skimmed past the book.

Okay, so at that point Mark pretty much had to talk me off the ledge (which, in retrospect, wasn’t hard to do since we live in a one-story house). I decided then and there that whatever happened to the book was just meant to be and that I had done everything I could short of dancing naked in the middle of Pike Place Market holding up a cardboard cutout of the book cover and offering free booze to passersby.

Hmmm…maybe…um, nah. Seattle’s too damn cold.

Then, a miracle happened. Somewhere, somehow, something clicked and downloads started to do a kind of a crazy zig-zag on the report page. One day, sales tripled, the next day they sank back to post launch. The next day sales tripled again, but then the weekend hit and sales tanked. By this time, I was feeling all zen about the launch and I figured, hey, sales were sales and I should concentrate on the next book, forget about it all, immerse myself in the world of Leine once again, do what makes me happy. Basically, I adopted a fuck it attitude and let it go (cue song from Frozen)

Frozen gifThe following Monday sales increased seven-fold and have been growing ever since. As I write this, the whole series is selling well. I rooted around to see if The Body Market somehow made it onto any big lists on the ‘Zon, but I couldn’t find it anywhere other than the usual suspects like Mystery, Thriller & Suspense>Crime and Thrillers>Assassinations, so I’m stymied. Now, I’m not naïve enough to believe the rate of downloads will last, but I’m supremely happy knowing the series is reaching more readers than ever and can’t wait to see how far the 4th book in the series will go. I wish I could point to one thing I did right, or even a few things, but hell if I know. I’ll probably do a lot of the same stuff for the next launch, but don’t expect it to follow the same patterns. The timing will be different, for one thing, so who knows what’ll happen?

I think that whole unknown is what intrigues me about this business. Predictable, it’s not.

So how about you guys? What are your launch strategies? Are you doing anything different? If so, what’s working and what isn’t?


The Nearsighted Narwhal — A New Kind of Bookstore

Ossain and Christina

Ossain and Christina (credit: TNN website)

The Nearsighted NarwhalA new bookstore named The Nearsighted Narwhal recently opened in Tacoma, Washington in the 6th Ave district and I’ve got to tell you, I’m stoked. Why? Because Ossain and Christina, the fine folks who run the store, celebrate all things DIY, including self-published books.

 

Interior of Nearsighted Narwhal

Self-publishing extravaganza!

Imagine my wonderment as I walked into the funky and unassuming yet awesomely eclectic space and saw shelf after shelf of self-published books, local fiction and non-fiction, graphic novels, zines and comics, along with an exciting mix of locally made art.

lo-fi options

Lo-fi recording options

They hold workshops on everything from travel sketching to teens making zines to grant writing for artists. There’s a strong sense of community radiating from the place and I instantly felt welcome when I entered the store.

I don’t know about you, but The Nearsighted Narwhal tells me self-publishing has arrived. Giving indie published books this much shelf space says something about our culture and how it’s transforming the way art is perceived. Not to mention the whole collaborative, helping-each-other-succeed vibe that permeates the DIY/Indie movement as a whole.

If you live nearby or plan on visiting Tacoma, do yourself a favor: stop by The Nearsighted Narwhal and try it on for size 😀

Jenni and the Nearsighted narwhal

Jenni and the narwhal

The Nearsighted Narwhal / 610 6th Avenue / Tacoma, WA 98406
Facebook Page

self-published sign


Awesome Authors– Polly Iyer

picture of the authorToday on Awesome Authors I get to interview the lovely and talented Polly Iyer.  As fellow suspense authors, Polly and I have crossed paths through the years and tend to be members of many of the same groups/forums. In that time if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Polly, you definitely know where you stand with her–and believe me, in this biz that’s tres refreshing 😀

Here’s her bio (from the author): Polly Iyer is the author of six suspense novels: Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and two books–soon to be a third–in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games and Goddess of the Moon. Her books contain adult language and situations with characters who sometimes tread ethical lines. She grew up on the Massachusetts coast and studied at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. After living in Rome, Italy, Boston, and Atlanta, she now makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. She spends her time thinking of ways to make life difficult for her characters. Learn more about her at PollyIyer.com and feel free to email her at PollyIyer at gmail dot com. She loves to hear from her readers.

“The best way for me to develop a character is to become her/him. Really.”

D: Hi Polly! It’s great to have you here. Please tell us something about yourself.

P: Thanks for having me, D.V. I started out as fashion illustrator when department stores actually employed people to draw their ads. I worked for Fairchild Publications out of New England, which included Women’s Wear Daily and W. Then I switched to commercial art when I moved to Atlanta and drew storyboards for television commercials. When my husband and I started an import/design business, I stopped drawing. I’m really not sure artists do what I did back then anymore. Computers have taken over that field. The import business led to a home furnishings store, along with a custom frame shop. So I still worked in the arts. Then the writing bug hit, and goodbye store. I promise this is my last career.

D: Sounds familiar 🙂 Tell us about your latest release in two sentences.cover for threads

P: Threads took 13 years for me to write and publish. It’s about a woman’s worst nightmare.

D: You write in a few different genres, including mystery/suspense and erotica. How difficult is it to switch gears between the different genres? How do you handle writing under a pseudonym as well as your own name (e.g., marketing, fans, etc.)?

P: This is a tough one, because my erotic author persona is the forgotten stepchild. I started out paying attention to her, but after three books I really haven’t promoted her as much as I should. Actually, I kind of let her go. I do have another book half-finished, and I may start bringing her back. She doesn’t feel like me, so that’s a problem. Besides, she’s cuter and younger and makes me jealous.

D: LOL. Why did you decide to “go indie”? What was your road to publication like?

P: I wrote my first erotic romance because I thought it might be a way to break into publishing, though I’d never read the genre. I was right and found two great epublishers for my books while my agent tried to find publishers for a couple of my suspense novels. When that didn’t happen, I decided to publish them myself. It was a good decision, and I’ve never looked back. I now have six books on Amazon with a couple of others on the way.

“Last year, I pulled all my books off Amazon KDP Select and put them with a distributor.”

D: What kind of marketing has worked best for you?

P: I’m really not sure I can pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. I love Facebook for the camaraderie, but I try not to pimp my books unless I have a reason. I don’t like Twitter. I do it, but I don’t like it. Does it work? I have friends who swear by it. Of course, they have 40K followers. That would take too much time for me. Last year, I pulled all my books off Amazon KDP Select and put them with a distributor. That meant my books would be on all the platforms—B&N, Apple, Kobo, etc.—libraries, and foreign wholesalers. I wish I could say that worked, but it didn’t. I gave it a year and feel now that I lost a good bit of revenue by doing that. I went back on Select. I made more on borrows in the first month than I made in any month with the distributor. I offered a couple of free books, and my sales have definitely increased. So that has worked for me better than all the social media, and I didn’t have to do much pushing my books or me down anyone’s throat.

D: I totally get not wanting to force books down people’s throat. Readers don’t like it.

What’s your process like? Do you sit down with an idea and just go with it, or do you plot the story, do character sketches, etc., or something in between?

P: I get an idea and just go with it. I don’t plot, but I know where I want to end up. The best way for me to develop a character is to become her/him. Really. I get into their heads as if I were them. I had wanted to be an actress when I was young, so maybe that’s my way of acting. All I know is it works. I edit as I go because as the story develops, earlier plot points have to be changed, and I’m afraid I’ll forget to do that. I don’t trust myself to do it later. Things come up in my stories that I know I never would have thought of if I’d plotted. I’ve written ten books that way and a few I haven’t finished, so it works for me.

D: As indies, we need to know about every facet of publishing from self-editing to marketing to formatting to cover design to accounting. Which of these do you tackle and which do you hire out, if any?

P: I mentioned self-editing, but when I’m finished, I turn it over to an editor who’s a writer and a grammarian, Ellis Vidler. She’s a critique partner and friend, so we keep in touch on a daily basis anyway, and we’re there for each other when needed. I also have another excellent critique partner, Maggie Toussaint. I don’t know what I’d do without them. I do my own formatting for ebooks and for paperback. I also do all my own covers. After a career in the arts, it’s one way of keeping my tired old hands in the visually creative part of writing. Besides, it’s what I did, and I doubt I’d be happy with anyone else’s vision of my books.

“Most writers starting out, unless they’ve gone through a master’s program, don’t know what they don’t know.”

D: What are you currently working on?

cover for BacklashP: I’m working on the third book of the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Backlash. This one has been especially difficult because I’m a stand-alone writer and love to develop the characters. That’s harder to do as a series progresses, which is why series get tired unless we can find something new to write about the characters. I’m almost finished. It’s also hard to keep the quality up to what readers of the first two books expect. I would hate to disappoint them.

D: Which writers have inspired you?

P: I’ve always been a reader of dark novels. I love Dennis Lehane, James Lee Burke, John Sandford, Karin Slaughter, Mo Hayder, early Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy, John Grisham, and Robert Crais. For lighter fare, I love some of the writers of the 70s like Sidney Sheldon, Harold Robbins, Leon Uris, and Judith Kranz. They wrote good stories I loved reading.

D: What was the worst advice you ever received about writing? Best?

P: Worst? Write what you know. Why would I? Part of the fun for me is writing what I don’t know. Now if I were an ex-secret agent or an adventurer, maybe I would. But I’m not. I have a good imagination, and I use it. Best advice? Write what I want to write the way I want to write it. I can’t write to the market just to sell books. I don’t play safe, and that’s the way I like it.

“Part of the fun for me is writing what I don’t know.”

D: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

P: Get readers who will tell you the truth to read your manuscripts. And get an editor. Join groups. Keep up with what’s going on in the publishing business. Most writers starting out, unless they’ve gone through a master’s program, don’t know what they don’t know. I sure didn’t, not that I know everything now.

D: Where do you see yourself in five years?

P: Doing what I’m doing now. This is my most fun career because I can become so many other people.

D: Where do you think publishing is headed?

P: If publishers and Amazon can stop their silly power plays, the future of publishing should embrace both electronic and paper books. I’d like to see new respect to indie authors instead of the distinctions being made that separate us into two camps. I just went to a big conference and was barred from being on a panel because I wasn’t traditionally published. I saw first-time authors on the panels who had no portfolio of reviews and rankings. That should stop, and I hope it does.

D: My sentiments, exactly. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Polly–good luck with Backlash!

P: Again, D.V., thanks for having me. Your questions were fun and made me think.

D: Here’s an excerpt from Polly’s book, Threads:

(Begin EXCERPT:)

The artsy crowd packed the gallery’s opening night. Once inside, Alan grabbed two champagne flutes off the tray of a roaming waiter, giving him the eye and getting one back.

“Half the city’s here. Hey, check out that couple,” he whispered in Miranda’s ear. “I’ll tell you all about those two tomorrow. Scandalous. Clue―that’s not his wife. In fact,” Alan cupped his hand around her ear, “she’s not a she.”

“Huh? You’re kidding.”

“Nope. Oh, there’s Jeffrey. Mind if I go over and thank him for cluing us in on this?”

Miranda waved him on. “I’m a big girl, Alan. I can take care of myself.”

“Be right back.”

She stole another peek at the object of Alan’s gossip―sheesh, who’d’ve thought? After stopping to chat with a few acquaintances, she continued her stroll around the gallery, listening to varying reviews of the art.

The paintings, displayed on white walls with halogen spots, hung in three different abstract groups―figuratives, landscapes, and paintings the art world might describe as “what the fuck.” The artist had wielded his brush with thick, vibrant color, creating an impression of movement and energy. Miranda stood back, sipped her champagne, and squinted at each one. The portraits were easy to distinguish as were the landscapes, but she couldn’t for the life of her define the subject matter of the third category, and their titles didn’t help. Dream #1 was anything but dreamy. More like a nightmare.

“Well, what do you think?” a deep, slightly accented voice from behind her asked. “Do you like them?”

She turned to the tall, exotically handsome man who asked her opinion. He wore his dark brown hair long enough to partially cover a small diamond stud, and his smile revealed unnaturally white teeth. But his most riveting feature was his eyes―black and piercing and intensely focused on her. Heat rose on her face as those same eyes flashed with amusement at the obvious impact he had on her. She couldn’t help herself. The man could have been a movie-star idol.

“I haven’t had a chance to study them all,” she said, “but I like a few.”

“And the others?”

She stood back, deliberating, then faced him square on. “Suck.”

Gorgeous burst out laughing. People turned to see what happened. “I love it. A breath of fresh air.”

“Well, I mean, take that one.” She pointed to a large canvas with a black figure embracing a red figure. “Who are they supposed to be? Fred and Ginger?”

“The black figure is Medea.”

“What’s she doing? Is she―” Miranda stopped when she figured out the action in the painting. She shuddered. “Now I know I don’t like it. The artist―what’s his name, I forgot―must be a whack job.”

“Hmm, could be.”

“Where is he anyway? Point him out.”

A subtle bow accompanied his offered hand. “Stephen Baltraine, at your service,” he said with a playful smile. His gaze remained on her face, exactly where it had been throughout their conversation.

Miranda’s cheeks flamed. “My father always said anyone asking my opinion better be ready for it.” She forced a smile. “I should learn to keep my mouth shut until I know who I’m talking to.”

“I’m just glad you spoke softly.”

“I don’t suppose I could start over and say it’s fabulously frenetic and original, could I?”

He leaned into her. “Not a chance.

(End EXCERPT)

You can find out more about Polly Iyer at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Audible.

 


Come on Down to UM&M!

Friday, June 6, 2014 ~ 5:00p-8:00p (and every first Friday of the month)

Uptown Mercantile & Marketplace / 816 Pacific Avenue, Bremerton, WA (no cover)

Join myself and other local authors at the First Friday partay that is UM&M.  Stop by and support your local artisans, not to mention an awesome and eclectic locally owned business! Meet artists & writers and score one of a kind art, signed paperbacks, food, wine, and listen to live music, all under UM&M’s fabulous warehouse roof! It’s summertime in the Pacific Northwest–come on down! 😀


7 Author Signing Today!

Maestri, Michelangelo - Busto di Bacco - 1850Come and join myself and 6 local Washington authors as we party at Paperbacks Plus in Port Orchard from 1:00pm to 5:00pm today! We’ll be signing books, giving away prizes, and who knows what other kinds of trouble we’ll be getting into. Libations and chocolate provided. If you can’t make it, you can join us on Facebook for an online party!

See you there 🙂


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