Monday, November 24, 2014

You're Welcome....


I know I will sound nostalgic for those putative good-old-days, but I must voice my ongoing surprise that in a time when communication has never been easier—email, text, SMS, phone, letters, c’mon, you don’t even need to actually waste time speaking to someone—there is a profound lack of what seems to me to be basic consideration.  

No acknowledgement of information received, thanks for an event attended, confirmation of receipt of package or card.  Emoticons were invented for the terminally inarticulate—a heart, a smiley face, or just thx—but don’t hold your breath.

I thought I would share an excerpt from a delightful book titled:  Good Form:  Manners, Good and Bad, at Home and in Society © 1890, p. 31.  Yes, that’s the kind of book my friends give me!  While it's not about acknowledgement, I found it a powerful reminder of what seems so missing from our discourse.

I also have a great 1942 edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette.  It notes in the front pages that “This book is manufactured under wartime conditions in conformity with all government regulations controlling the use of paper and other materials.” The book is filled with excellent advice in general, and timely advice on how to bake a wedding cake by borrowing friends ration cards for butter.  Belt tightening indeed.

GOOD AND BAD MANNERS IN CONVERSATION

“Unfortunately, it is sometimes the man "who don't know that he don't know," who is most insistent upon being listened to. This fault is not confined to men, however. It is the ignorant who are inhospitable to another's opinions. Entertaining alien views long enough to judge them fairly is not adopting them, anymore than it is including a person in one’s family to ask him to dinner. The scoffer at any seriously formulated judgment shows bad manners. Another bad mannered person is the one who boldly or baldly contradicts.  Dissent is allowable if cautiously expressed, but denial or contempt is bad form.  Those who differ from each other in opinions, are in very bad form if they cannot meet in society and find harmonious topics upon which to speak to each other.”

But I realize that in addition to sex, conflict sells, and when you’re looking to gain, retain and monetize an audience, the Xtreme, the outrageous and polarizing positions capture our attention, our time and our clicks.  Unfortunately, we often even believe it. 

On the positive side, I would note that Jon Stewart usually displays a level of tact and decorum that might be a model for a 21st Vs 19th Century self presentation. And worth channelling as we head for those fabulous family meals....!

Thanksgiving is a good time to say

Thank you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day with "The Christmas Piano Tree" by Jina Bacarr


Veterans Day is for healing...let's not forget our wounded warriors who suffer not only the physical pains of war, but the mental as well.
 
PTSD was first talked about during the Civil War by physicians who described it as nostalgia, while others believed it was a disturbance of a soldier's mental capabilities caused by severe trauma to the brain.
 
After World War II, John Huston directed a documentary called Let There Be Light, about the care of soldiers with mental disturbances suffered during wartime.
 
These are wounds you do not see.
 
But they are very real to the soldier with PTSD.
 
In my holiday romance, "The Christmas Piano Tree," the hero is a wounded warrior suffering from PTSD.

The gate is the entrance to the Mary Huber School for Girls where my heroine, Kristen Delaney, works…she’s been feeding homeless vets with leftover food as a way of keeping her husband’s memory alive (he was killed in Afghanistan)–this is a very difficult Christmas Eve for her and her little girl Rachel…until this soldier shows up!!

Here’s a short scene where we first meet him. Kristen gets a funny feeling when she sees a tall man walking toward her… 
 
 
      "She pulled her steering wheel hard to the right to avoid colliding with the tall man bundled up in a black field jacket and khaki pants, a duffel bag strapped on his back, his broad shoulders dusted with falling snow.

      "She stuck her head out of the window to give him a piece of her mind and then stopped.

      “Something about him made her stare at him. He had that swagger she knew so well. Military. Seeing him touched a nerve. Another homeless vet. Kristen shook her head, understanding. He was the third one this week looking for a hot meal.

      "Not surprising on Christmas Eve.”

=================


Who is the handsome soldier? And how is he tied to Kristen's past?
 
 Sgt. Jared Milano is suffering from PTSD from his last mission in Afghanistan: 

http://amzn.com/B00OY9L8KO
 
"His brain went into freefall and he couldn’t stop it. No matter how hard he tried, how much he squeezed his mind, the memory stayed lost in a thick, suffocating fog swirling around in his head.

Lost.

Dead and forgotten.

Angry, frustrated, he tried to reach out and grab it, but whatever his buddy said to him before he died remained silent and still in his mind.

When would he remember? When?"
 
================
 
 
"The Christmas Piano Tree" is the story of a pretty young war widow who re-discovers the magic of the holiday season with the help of a homeless vet and an old piano.
 
I'll never forget the Christmas I spent stationed overseas in a small town in Italy. The hot chocolate and cookies I baked and gave to the soldiers who signed up for my Christmas Eve Midnight Mass tour. Off we went on that wintery night in an old military school bus...
 
We were a motely group of military and Special Services personnel attending the service in a medieval cathedral that was cold and damp, but filled with song and hope for a better future.
 
Many of those men had seen the horrors of combat and suffered from PTSD (what we called DSS--delayed-stress syndrome--back then). Their stories as they told them to me have stayed with me always...
 
Thank you for spending part of your Veterans Day here with me. We thank all those who have served for their courage and bravery in keeping us and our families safe. God bless you.
 
~Jina
 
 
 
 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Value of Advertising a Single Self-Published Book by Kitty Bucholtz

We’re all trying to figure out what kind of advertising and short-term discounting works to increase sales and readership. I am at the beginning end of the self-publishing curve with one stand-alone book out, and one series with a free short story prequel and a book one. In October, I did several different things and tracked sales daily. Here are my results.

The Specifics
I put Unexpected Superhero (book one of a series) back in KDP Select for 90 days in July, ending October 21. I used my five free days in October with three days on a Wed/Thur/Fri and two days a week later on a Fri/Sat. It was also on sale for three days for 99c at the end of the month (Oct 31 – Nov 2).

I used advertising on several of those days. I purchased the InD’Tale Bargain Book Ad for $25 on October 8, the eBookSoda ad for $10 on October 10 (the first and last day of the first free period), then Ereader News Today for $20 on October 17 (the first day of the last free period).

On another author’s recommendation, on October 31 I used Ebook Boosters’ $25 service where they submit my book’s 99c sale information to 25 other free-newsletter sites (sites similar to BookBub and eBookSoda). I didn’t try to figure out for sure which sites picked up the book, but I know it went out on at least a few email newsletters that day. (I was at a convention all weekend so I didn’t have time to do Google searches or keep track of Amazon rankings.)

Non-Advertisement Promotion
Additionally, I participated in an author book swap with 19 other authors on November 1. We all put one book on sale for 99c, then blogged, Tweeted, and posted to Facebook about all 20 books, and we all bought each other’s books. (So that accounted for 19 out of 25 sales on book swap day.)

I mentioned all of this to my newsletter list (122 people) once at the beginning of October on the day the book was first free, and on the last day of October when the book was 99c. I did one guest blog, and wrote three other blogs on my own two sites.

I also was at Comikaze, a comic book and pop culture convention, October 31 through November 2, and I told attendees that the book was 99c on Kindle that weekend.

The Finances
Altogether, I spent $80 on advertising. Royalties from Amazon (the only place the book was for sale) were about $38 for 27 sales in October plus about $30 for 15 borrows from the KDP library, and about $20 for 32 sales in the first week of November.  Financially, I broke even, about $8 ahead.

But keep in mind that I had 3710 free downloads as well. If those downloads translate to reviews and newsletter signups, that’s worth the cost of advertising. A bigger newsletter list means more sales when new books come out. I’ve had about the same number of newsletter signups already that I had after a BookBub ad last year yielded 17,561 free downloads of the same book. Last year’s free downloads added about 35 new reviews over two to three months. It’s too early to know how many reviews I’ll get due to the 3710 free downloads last month.

While traditional wisdom is that advertising with so few books out isn’t worth your time and money, check out the difference in sales and in reach between the month before the sale, the sale month, and only one week after the last sale.

September (with no sales or advertising) – 6 purchases, 6 borrows, 0 free, about $27 in revenue

October (with three sales and lots of email ads) – 27 purchases, 15 borrows, 3710 free, about $68 in revenue

November (1 week only, end of last sale) – 32 purchases, no borrows or free (not in KDP Select anymore), about $20 in revenue

While my numbers are small, the percentage of increase is excellent. Because last year’s BookBub ad was for a free book, the reviews were easily worth the $90 I paid for the ad, but there was a very small sales tail after the five free days ended. I believe I sold 24 books in the month following. I ended up with a negative net income that month despite the wild “success” of so many people choosing to download the book.

This time, I spent nearly the same amount of money, reached fewer people but over several different audiences instead of one, and had a positive net income for the month. Also, my book was being promoted over the course of three weeks rather than five days. I will likely derive value from that later since people need to hear about a product a certain number of times before they decide to buy it.

Specific Advertisers
If you’re interested in the results from specific advertisers, these are my stats:

InD’Tale $25 ad to about 10,000 readers = 1238 free downloads that day
(NOTE: There were also 551 free downloads the day after the ad came out, and 245 on the third day, on which I also used an eBookSoda ad.)

eBookSoda $10 ad to 700+ readers = 245 free downloads that day
(NOTE: I used eBookSoda in April and May of this year, and had 0 sales and possibly a few sales, respectively with books priced at 99c. I emailed them and was told Little Miss Lovesick was advertised to 681 subscribers in April with 37 click-throughs to retailers, and Unexpected Superhero was advertised to 714 subscribers in May with 43 click-throughs to retailers.)

Ereader News Today $20 ad to “thousands” of readers = 1277 free downloads that day
(NOTE: There were another 391 free downloads the following day.)

EBookBooster $25 ad to 25 sites and potentially thousands of readers = 8 sales at 99c that day
(NOTE: There were 10 more 99c sales during the 3-day sale, and a lot of word-of-mouth promotion as well.)

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. This is data based on having only one book in a series and advertising that book without the next book out yet. I’ll let you know what happens when I do this again when book two comes out.


Meanwhile, please leave a comment with your thoughts, or your advertising experiences. Your input could be very helpful for others contemplating advertising and short-term sales.

Kitty Bucholtz decided to combine her undergraduate degree in business, her years of experience in accounting and finance, and her graduate degree in creative writing to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher. Her novels, Little Miss Lovesick and Unexpected Superhero, and the free short story, "Superhero in Disguise," are now available at most online retail sites.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Missing the Next Meeting


This will be a quick post, because most of what I want to say is how great the next OCC meeting sounds... and how I regret that I won't be there.

I'm not sure why things seem to happen together, to conflict, but this time I have a commitment that I need to honor instead of attending OCC.

Wish I could do both, but that's not going to happen. Instead, I'll just say... have a great time without me, OCC.

Linda's current release
In case you're wondering why I'm sorry I won't be there, just scroll down and see what's scheduled to occur on Saturday. A great chapter meeting! Lots happening, and all of it fun and helpful. Plus, I'm always happy to see my friends at meetings and find out what's going on in their lives. Not to mention letting them know what I'm up to.

Anyway, just know I'll be thinking about you. And I'll keep my fingers crossed that I'll see you all in December.

Linda O. Johnston

Monday, November 03, 2014

Meeting reminder: Beth Yarnall Demystifies "Authorpreneurs"


AT A GLANCE--OCC GENERAL MEETING – November 8, 2014

9:00-9:50 am:            Doors Open

                                   Ask-an-Author — Jackie Diamond & Pat Wright
                                                Do you have a question that a published author can answer? Then plan to come to the meeting a little bit early. Each month one or two published authors host an informal round table discussion group and you are welcome to sit in.
                                                    
                                                     Critique of the Month — Debra Holland & Laura Drake
                                                Free for OCC Members Attending the Meeting--Monthly Critique Drawings!  Print out your FIRST chapter and bring it to the monthly meeting! Then add your name to the list of critique hopefuls, located at the membership table.

10:00 a.m.                  Meeting begins; Announcements

10:30 a.m.                  Morning Workshop:            P.A.W. Members

·       All Things Publishing (Self and Traditional) – What are the steps? Deciding what to do yourself versus buying out, etc.
·       Getting Started - Ideas, setting up a manuscript, conquering POV, plot points, etc.
·       Mmmm Marketing (including Social Media) - The must haves, nice to haves and leave behinds
·       Becoming a Professional Writer - Overcoming blocks, managing time, managing money, etc. 

Various P.A.W members will be leading discussions and sharing tips and information on the topics listed above. Tables will be marked by topic; just pick one and pull up a chair!


11:30 a.m.                  Lunch Break
                                                                       
To order a delicious box lunch from the Corner Bakery in Brea, Click here.


12:15 p.m.                  Meeting resumes: Chapter Business, etc.

12:45 p.m.                  Afternoon Speaker: Beth Yarnall
        “Authorpreneurs: Using Multiple Publishing Avenues to Build a Career” 


The term Hybrid Author gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean? Why would an author want to pursue more than one publishing option? What are the benefits and drawbacks? How does pursuing multiple publishing avenues influence author income? In this one-hour workshop we’ll explore the pros and cons of traditional, digital first, and self-publishing and how an author can use two or even all three avenues to build a strong career and broad reader base.

Bio:

Best selling author, Beth Yarnall, writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and the occasional hilarious tweet. A storyteller since her playground days, Beth remembers her friends asking her to make up stories of how the person `died' in the slumber party game Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, so it's little wonder she prefers writing stories in which people meet unfortunate ends. In middle school she discovered romance novels, which inspired her to write a spoof of soap operas for the school's newspaper. She hasn't stopped writing since.

For a number of years, Beth made her living as a hairstylist and makeup artist and even owned a salon. Somehow hairstylists and salons seem to find their way into her stories. Beth lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their rescue dog where she is hard at work on her next novel. For more information about Beth and her novels please visit her website- www.bethyarnall.com.

2:00 p.m.                    Meeting concludes.

Next month’s meeting will be on Saturday, December 13, 2014
A Day With Lynn Lorenz
Morning:“Front-End Load Your Manuscript”
Afternoon: “Plotting by the Seat of Your Pants”
                             
November Online Class: “
“The Amazon Bookseller’s Toolbox: Everything You Could Possibly Want to Know about Selling Books on Amazon… and Then Some”
with Erica Barton
November 10 – December 7, 2014

For More Information on Upcoming Events, please visit us at http://www.occrwa.org/comingattractions.html

Sunday, October 26, 2014

OCCRWA's November Online Class: The Amazon Bookseller's Toolbox, with Erica Barton

OCCRWA's November Online Class starts November 10th and features full-time writer and blogger, Erica Barton. Here's Erica on her upcoming class:

Do you have a book on Amazon with sluggish sales? Or is your book about to be published on Amazon and you want to promote it? Are you a traditionally published author wondering what you could do to spike your rankings, or a self-published author who is really hoping to see your book hit one of Amazon’s lists?
Well, guess what! It’s easier than you think. Amazon has created dozens of tools to help any author at any stage of their career promote their books.
In this workshop, you are going to find out:
  • What tools Amazon has to sell books on auto-pilot.
  • How to change your Book Pages on Amazon, even if you aren’t the publisher.
  • How to see who is coming to your Book Page and where they are coming from.
  • What to put IN your book so you can make even more sales.
  • Amazon’s cross-promotional tools.
  • A marketing plan from BEFORE your book is published to long after you’ve forgotten how the story goes.
And much more--here's one example of additional content:

3 Easy Ways to Deal with Negative Reviews on Amazon

Every author gets them, no matter how good the author is.  For example, “Beautiful Creatures” (a book that was made into a movie) has 90 1-star reviews from the Haters, but that’s only 90 bad reviews out of 3,551 reviews total.  And while it may seem like a negative thing, it can actually be good for two reasons.  

1)      Haters often raise the ire of the Lovers who will come to your book’s defense for you. And,

2)      They give an honest perspective to the book which lets potential readers know that there are real people reading the book versus an author bribing people to go in and leave good reviews. 

The facts are these.  You will probably get bad reviews when you run a KDP promotion because people who don’t read your genre are going to pick up your book for free.  Not only that, but there are authors without scruples who will go in and try to tank your book sales by leaving a bad review so that authors will go check out their book instead.  Finally, there are the people who will just hate your book no matter what because they just don’t like your voice or your plot, or whatever. 

In regards to those people, I say don’t let them get you down.  Bad press is still press, and every review kicks up that little number of total reviews.  Get enough reviews and those bad ones get washed out by the good ones. 

But, let’s not dwell on bad reviews.  Instead, let’s talk about how to deal with them. 

It's Alina again. To check out Erica's class or sign up, visit  http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclassNov14.html

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Debut at Lady Jane's Salon OC

This month I made my debut at Lady Jane's Salon OC, reading from my historical romance, Rogue's Hostage. I attended for the first time last month and enjoyed it so much, I agreed to read in October. I'm just glad the microphone was working Monday night.


Alina K. Field started us off with an excerpt from her latest Regency romance, Bella's Band, which featured a visit to a brother by an innocent, gently bred young lady. Fortunately, the hero is there to rescue her from the unwanted attentions of a very drunk customer.

Debra Holland read a sweetly emotional first kiss scene from her upcoming Western romance, Glorious Montana Sky. Stealing a kiss is a daring move for an upright widowed minister.

And Sylvie Fox entertained us with a risque excerpt from her new release, Don't Judge Me, about a young woman who designs porn websites who meets a sexy comedian who does a mean strip tease. Are you interested yet?

I went last with a dramatic scene from the first chapter of my historical romance, Rogue's Hostage, set during the French & Indian War, and inspired by the Daniel Day Lewis movie version of The Last of the Mohicans.

Lady Jane's Salon started in New York City where the first salon was founded in February 2009 by romance authors Hope Tarr, Leanna Renee Hieber, Maya Rodale, and book blogger, Ron Hogan. There are now eight satellite salons: Denver, CO; Raleigh-Durham, NC; Naperville, IL (Chicago area), Grenville, SC, Phoenix, AZ, Silver Spring, MD, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA and Orange County, CA. Every Lady Jane’s Salon® charges an admission fee of $5 OR one gently used romance novel, which is donated to a local charity..

A big thanks is owed to Beth Yarnell for founding our local salon, and also to Sylvie Fox who produces the monthly podcasts. You can listen to the podcasts at the website or by downloading them at iTunes. I've downloaded the past podcasts and am enjoying listening to them.

Lady Jane's OC meets the second Monday of every month from 7-9PM at the

Gypsy Den Alt Cafe, 211 W Center Street Promenade, Anaheim, CA 92805.
Phone: (714) 956-4400

The atmosphere is eclectic and the food is delicious. I tried the bread pudding this month. Yum.

Next month's meeting, Nov. 10, features Elizabeth Boyle, Deborah Mullins, Beth Yarnell and Felice Fox. Come join us. I can guarantee it will be a fun evening. And if you're thinking of signing up to read, don't be afraid. The crowd is friendly and supportive.

I've been busy at my blog with my Paranormal Blogfest. Check it out to read the posts and enter the Rafflecopter for a Halloween gift basket. Our own Kitty Bucholtz will be there tomorrow talking about her love for superheroes, and Susan Squires joins me on Oct. 29 for a post about her new release, Night Magic.

Linda McLaughlin / Lyndi Lamont
Website: http://lindalyndi.com
Reading Room Blog: http://lindalyndi.com/reading-room-blog/