Authors: Just stop the unsolicited advertising emails

You open your email and see 12 new messages. Scanning the subject lines, you note quite a few are unsolicited emails.

Highlight. Delete.

That is my solution.

It is incredibly easy to get on everyone’s email list as so many companies ask for your email address today. And by giving it to them, they seem to think you are giving them permission to email you tons of advertisements.

But there is another group that also seems to find no problem in sending unsolicited emails – or in the case of Twitter sending direct messages (DM) that are nothing but a pitch to buy their book. Yes, that group is authors.

I really can’t speak for others but sending me an email or DM about your book is NOT going to make me buy it. In fact, I often delete these messages without a second thought. (I received one from someone on Goodreads even as I wrote this blog. Delete – well, delete after saving a copy to be included with this post.)

emailIf I signed up for your emails or newsletters, this is fine. But just because I hosted you on MY site, doesn’t mean I want to hear about every new achievement. I host many authors whose books do not interest me at all.

Now I am all for promoting with e-mail – as long as the messages are wanted. Before you put someone on your email list, you need to ask their permission. You shouldn’t just take everyone in your contact list and start emailing them. This is a good way to turn off potential readers.

If on your website, you ask for emails to add people to a newsletter list that is perfectly okay. They chose to receive that newsletter. Just ensure that there is a way for them to be removed from your list if they should decide to stop receiving your notices. (The Can-Spam Act actually sets rules for commercial emails and requires recipients have a way to opt out of emails.)

There also is nothing wrong with including your books or blog links in your e-mail signature line – you can even have testimonials, a line from the book or the title of your latest blog in the signature line. Of course just remember that some SPAM filters will weed out emails with too many links in them.

I also get plenty of DMs when I follow someone on Twitter. Most are just a “Thanks for the Follow” message but often there is a sales pitch added to it. “If you like fantasy, check out my book.” Let me tell you it doesn’t work. I simply delete the DM without a second thought. I know others who will unfollow you if you send out this type of message.

DMs shouldn’t be used as a sales pitch. They are for private conversations and relationship building – not for marketing. Sending a DM as a marketing pitch is the same thing as those SPAM emails and will certainly get you ignored or unfollowed by many people.

I don’t have any statistics to back up my opinion that unsolicited emails and DMs don’t generate sales. But I know that no SPAM message is every appreciated or even read by me so if you are sending them out, please make sure I am not on your list.

 

 

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Blog Tour: Tomorrow Never Comes

Today, I welcome author Pamela Jones to my blog. She is on a book blog tour promoting her book Tomorrow Never Comes.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

Professionally, I’ve been writing for 19 years. During these years, I’ve done a variety of writing: short stories, poetry, blogging, eBooks, and online articles. I also freelanced as a SEO copywriter for private clients.

Personally, I strive to live a quiet life. Although I write drama, by no means do I like living it. So, I enjoy peaceful activities such as reading. I also like traveling and spending quality time with my family.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?           

Yes, I’m already working on a second eBook. It’s entitled “Her Married Lover.” It’s about a single, lonely mother involved with a married man.

When the adulterer’s wife, who’s suffers with depression, discovers their affair, a wrath of hell breaks out. The story will end with a message to readers: infidelity has its consequences.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?               

Yes, I’m a full-time writer. I start my writing day after 11 A.M. My days vary. For instance, on Mondays, I tend to preset tweets and Facebook posts. I also network on social writing sites such as World Literary Club and Goodreads.

Either Tuesdays or Thursdays will be the day I write my blog post. Wednesdays and Fridays are days I mostly dedicate to writing my eBook. I use Saturdays to do additional projects, such as gathering information that will help me with future stories.

I don’t write on Sundays. I tried countless times to make time to write on this day – with no luck. That day is so busy doing personal affairs, until I decided that it’s best NOT to even go near my computer.

On my workdays, I stop writing around 5:30 P.M., which is a big improvement from what I used to do. When I was doing SEO copywriting, I wrote around the clock … and went to bed as late as 2 A.M. … only to get up before 8 A.M.!

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

There are so many great things about being a writer. Truthfully, being a writer is the best thing next to retirement. However, I’ll just list three things:

1) You’re free to do whatever projects you want – copywriting, eBooks, blogging … the choice is yours.

2) You choose the hours you want to work. If you want to work at night and sleep all day – go ahead. If you prefer to work during the day and sleep at night, do so. And with either choice, you can work as many or as little hours as you wish.

3) I love the fact that I don’t have to be bothered with the following type of co-workers: people who tell everybody’s business but their own, and backstabbers. I love working by myself, and despite the myth that writers get lonely, I don’t. Just give me my coffee and my music and I’m good to go!

The worst thing about being a writer:

1) You are responsible for your own taxes – a serious headache if you don’t know jack about self-employment taxes.

2) You have to get your own health insurance.

3) It can take years to get a steady income in writing – although it doesn’t take years for bills to come in steady!

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

The unemployment line – I kid you not! I DO NOT want to walk in that line again – ever. I know if I quit writing, I would have no choice but to get back in it. No way!

Also, I truly love writing. It’s beyond a career for me. It’s a passion.

Please tell us about your current release.

“Tomorrow Never Comes” is a short eBook; less than 35 pages. It’s categorized under women’s fiction.

The story is about Bernice Albright, an author who raised her siblings, Marlena and Rico Brown. She raised them in order to honor her dying mother’s request: take care of her babies.

Although she raised them well, Bernice’s siblings are living troubled lives: Marlena is in an abusive marriage; Rico is a drug addict. This worries Bernice, and makes her determine to help them change their lives.

In spite her efforts, her siblings’ circumstances overtake any chances of “tomorrow being a better day” – a belief that their late mother always believed in.

“Tomorrow Never Comes” is a fictional example of family loyalty, and how the wrong decisions can impact an entire family for a lifetime.

What inspired you to write this book?

My late grandmother inspired me to write this book. I feel like I was “touched by her presence” when this idea was presented to me.

How did you come up with the title?

The title came into my head naturally. There was no struggling with it. It was just as natural as a good thought.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

My favorite character is Bernice. I like her strength as a woman. No matter what she faces in life, she finds the strength to triumph the tribulation. And as women, we need to be strong in the face of adversity. It serves no purpose to be weak and helpless – something Bernice wasn’t.

I disliked Otis. Actually, I hated him. He was a coldhearted man who had no guilt behind his ruthless actions.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The most difficult thing to write in this story was when Bernice’s siblings’ problems overcame them. Such scenes aren’t joyous to write because you’re bringing pain to the story. However, they are necessary to write because they do happen in life.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

My snack is actually a beverage. It’s coffee. I love a tall cup of coffee mixed with International Delight Creamer and artificial sweetener. My mind goes to work in full drive with those first few sips.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I have arthritis in my hands. This makes writing longhand a difficult task. Just writing a page can cause my fingers to stiffen and hurt more. It also makes my penmanship shabby sometimes.

So, it’s best for me to type. Even then, there are times when typing can be a bit difficult. Arthritic flare-ups make it even worse. The pain goes down to my wrists.

However, I have too many stories to tell to let “Bad Boy Arthur” keep me down. So, I do stretching exercises for my hands. I also pray.

I can’t let pain get me down, especially since this is my true calling. In addition, I’ve got too many fictional characters waiting to come to life so that readers can love or hate them!

Book Description

Tomorrow Never ComesBernice Albright is a bestselling romance novelist. Her renowned fame and fortune affords her an affluent life, such as a mansion, an ocean view condo, and a luxury car. She knows influential people around the globe.

She lives a good life, but it’s minimal compared to her love for her family. Her love is associated with a promise she made to her dying mother 20 years ago: to raise her siblings, Marlena and Rico Brown.

Marlena and Rico are now adults. Despite having a good upbringing, they made choices that resulted in their lives being “hell on earth.”

As the presumed matriarch, Bernice is preparing to help her siblings rebuild their lives. This gives her strong belief in her late mother’s motto: tomorrow will be a better day.

However, a turn of events occurs, and it changes her family forever. At the end of it all, Bernice has a new reality about her family, her mother’s belief, and herself.

Author Bio

Pamela JonesPamela Jones is a self-published author of contemporary women’s fiction. “Tomorrow Never Comes” is her first eBook.

Prior to publishing her first eBook, she wrote 19 contemporary short stories for the defunct New York based publisher, Sterling MacFadden. Their magazines included Jive, Bronze Thrills, Black Confessions, Black Romance, Black Secrets, True Black Experience, True Black Passions, and True Black Secrets.

Pamela’s writing background has also included nonfiction content written under the pseudonym “Penlady”.

You can find out more about Pamela on her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can buy Tomorrow Never Comes on Amazon.

Aurasma App offers cool effects

While I am not one to download a lot of apps, in fact, I rarely add a new app for myself, I did download one right before our Disney World trip that I thought was worth a post.

While on the Disboards, I heard that the Aurasma app would allow you to do some cool things at Star Wars Weekends. I immediately searched for information about this app.

icon_256This is a free app that presents an augmented reality. When you see their “A” logo, you simply use their app to see a video, animation or 3D scene (called an Aura). But it doesn’t have to be something with their symbol. There is a whole list of Auras out there featuring every day objects, or you can even create your own. (There are plenty of You Tube videos detailing how to do this.)

Star-Wars-weekend-posterThe first thing I did after downloading the app was to try it on the Star Wars Weekend poster. Cool. Mickey flies an X-wing fighter.

I then tried it on the back of a one dollar bill. It is neat to see a short video begin only when the app is pointed at the dollar.

My original search on the app brought up several You Tube videos on making your own Aura. Interesting but I barely have time for all my other projects and keeping the house running that I won’t be making anything cool like these anytime soon.

So back to Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios in Disney World…

While standing in line to shop at Darth Mall (cute play on words, huh?), there were several backdrops set up. There were two as you entered and two as you exited. If you used the app to take a photo in front of these backdrops, a special character or characters would show up in your photo.

Here is a picture of the back drop taken by our camera. (taken by Jase since he didn’t want to be in the photo.)

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And here it is as seen through the Aurasma App.

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Here is another one without a before shot…

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And one more with the whole family…

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It was pretty cool. Obviously, a lot of people were busy in line downloading the app. I am certainly glad I did.

Today’s Featured Author: Tracy M. Joyce

Today I welcome author Tracy M. Joyce to my blog to discuss Altaica – the first book in her Chronicles of Altaica series.

Interview

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I grew up on a farm in Glenburn, a small rural community in Victoria, Australia. Like all farm kids we worked hard, but had the kind of adventures you can only have if you grow up in the country.  I suspect many of them make it into my writing. Certainly the horses I’ve owned over the years have made an appearance in my books!  Currently I live in Melbourne, with my husband, two cats and two very lazy greyhounds.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably from about the age of 12, or at least that’s when I knew I wanted to write. I’d always loved writing stories and creating my own worlds. I can remember at about that age being asked what I wanted to be and I answered, “A writer.”  The reply to this was, “You can be a journalist.”  When it was explained to me what a journalist did, I replied, “No, I want to write books.” I was also then told that I’d need to get a real job!

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

Who we are and how we think is based on the sum total of our experiences, so I think it is inescapable that our experiences come into our writing. I’ve been told that a great deal of myself is in two of my characters, Asha and Isaura, but that wasn’t deliberate. Writers are huge observers of people and their behavior; it’s only natural that what we see is used to construct our characters. Certainly some of my “baddies” are based on people I know. In terms of other experiences and skills I’ve gained throughout life – absolutely they feature in my books: I owned and rode horses for 25 years and practice traditional archery – both of which are in my books.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book? 

Yes, There are plans for four more books in The Chronicles of Altaica . The next book, entitled Asena Blessed, is almost a third complete. It continues Isaura’s tale and after what she has endured in Altaica, she is a vastly different young woman. If anything this book has a faster pace, more character upsets and a few extra surprises. It will end the duology dealing with Altaica’s current main protagonist – Isaura. A following duology is planned, which takes place approximately 20 years after the first one. However there will be a standalone book in between these two sets which fills in some important details in the land Isaura came from.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

Yes, I write almost full time. Three days a week I write all day and I set daily word limits and the days in between I either write, edit or work on marketing. I also tutor a select group of secondary students in English. When I write all day, I find I have to go to the library otherwise I just faff about at home and don’t get enough done.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

I can’t shut my imagination down and ideas and visuals of stories just keep recurring to me.  I have to write them down. I also love creating worlds and putting a lot of what I observe in the real world into my fictional characters. Despite the fact that it’s fantasy, real life provides much of the inspiration behind my writing. For me writing is like spending all day watching your favourite movie! And I love it when my readers feel the same way.

How do you conceive your plot ideas? 

It sounds clichéd but Altaica began with a dream. I dreamt one scene from what will be book four. That scene wouldn’t leave me. I felt compelled to write it down and within days an outline for most of book four emerged. I then said to myself, “Well this is just the middle of something. How do they (the characters) get here.” From that and a lot of hard work, came Altaica and what will be Asena Blessed. History, myth, hobbies and names and their meanings all provide inspiration.

Do you outline your books or just start writing? 

I’m definitely a mixture in this regard.  I know my beginning and ending point in a story in regard to my character outcomes.  I also know critical points for my characters that must be reached throughout the plot – in between I “wing” it.

However, nothing is “carved in stone” for me.  The precise events at those “critical” junctures may alter as I write and think of an even more horrendous thing to befall my characters, but the end goal in their development is usually set.

Notice I wrote, usually.  Sometimes inspiration takes me in a slightly different direction and that character I was going to make the baddie or kill, changes in some way – usually because I enjoy the twist more.

When it comes to writing a sequel I find I am planning a bit more.  I have to make sure that all the threads I’ve started in the first book are picked up and continued in the second book.  Of course some of these threads go for more than two books.

The last thing I want to do is forget to pick up and continue these threads.  I would hate to disappoint my readers in that way!

My main concern in all this – whether I plan or not, is to produce a novel I am happy with, but moreover to not disappoint my fans.  Even though the divide between planning and “winging” it is fairly fluid for me, if a bit more planning helps me to write a better book then fine!

Please tell us about your current release. 

Altaica is a fast paced epic fantasy that deals with themes of identity and belonging, racism, superstition, and the true nature of friendship.  It examines the fragility of human nature when pitted against the desire for survival and personal gain. I love stories with strong female protagonists – there is no swooning for my leading ladies.

Altaica’s leading lady, Isaura, is a child of refugees raised within a community that fears her kind. She has few friends and those she treasures. All her life she has faced challenges, but nothing compared to what she will face when she and her friends flee before an invading army. The journey they undertake will show her who her real friends are, she has to make incredibly difficult, life changing, moral choices, and deal with threats from quarters she never expected.

How did you come up with the title? 

My research for my world building covered a wide variety of cultures and periods of history. I have combined various favoured bits of history to create the world in which Altaica is set. However I kept coming back to the weapons of the Ottomans and Mughals as I loved their beauty and reputation, so they feature heavily in the story. I also read about the Turkish myth of the Asena which fitted into my story arc beautifully. I came across the word Altaic used to describe the grouping of the Turkish, Mongol and Tungus languages. Thinking I was being clever I added an “a” onto the word to make Altaica – it had a nice sound to it. (It is actually a Latin word and my Latin teacher would be most displeased to know I didn’t realize this.) It seemed appropriate to use Altaica as the title for a fantasy world and novel, since so much inspiration came from the myth of the Asena and from the pictures of beautiful Ottoman weapons.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

My research encompassed everything from weaponry, armour, castle building (eastern and western), religion types, boats and sailing, herbology, different types of sword fighting techniques, staff fighting, hand to hand fighting, surgery, cavalry training (Roman). I read up on the Ottomans, Saracens, Moors, Mules…It’s a big stack of books! Fortunately my husband is a military historian so I could raid his library and get his advice planning battles. I didn’t have to research the horses as I rode and owned horses for 25 years and practice traditional archery as a hobby. (Though I did research historic archery accoutrements – whoops that’s book two!)

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

Some of the personality quirks of people around me have definitely made it into my characters, particularly Hugo and Elena.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why? 

I can’t choose between Isaura and Asha. They are both independent, feisty, outdoors riding horses doing archery, and they don’t need approval from others to validate their lives.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write? 

There are several places, upstairs in my office, in a comfy chair, on a recliner outside on a sunny day, or in our State Library (which is wonderfully atmospheric!). The most important thing is that I have my noise cancelling headphones on and my music playing.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

Tea (all sorts, but generally Assam and gen mai cha). Gluten free choc chip cookies (Leda brand here), and any dark chocolate!

Do you have an all time favorite book? 

A Long Way From Verona by Jane Gardam. I read this in secondary school and loved it. The young protagonist wants to be a writer and the story had a big impact on me. I’ve still got the book.

What book are you reading right now? 

I’m currently reading Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. It’s very good, but not my usual kind of book. I’m reading it because one of the students I tutor is studying it and I’ll be glad when I’ve finished it.

Book Blurb

Altaica_ebook_Final_sm“Look at her – she’s Hill Clan.  Even the Matyrani don’t like them…”

Isaura – little is known about her race, but much is whispered.  Born to refugees, she grows up enduring racism and superstition within a community that fears her.  She has few friends, and those she treasures.  Trapped, she longs for escape to a different life.

Escape is only the beginning of her troubles.  Having fled an invading army with her friends, Isaura is faced with heinous choices in order to survive.  Secrets from her past emerge to torment her and threaten to destroy all she holds dear.  Her struggles forge a bond with an ancient power – a power which may transform or consume her.  Old hatreds and superstitions are renewed and at her most vulnerable she learns the true nature of those around her.

Her only hope lies in a foreign land – a land rich in tradition; ruled by three powerful clans.  A land with a history marked by warfare; where magic as we know it does not exist.  Instead what is here, in abundance, is a more primal power.

Survival carries a high price.

Welcome to Altaica.

About the Author

Tracy Joyce Author PhotoTracy M Joyce is an Australian author of speculative fiction.  Her debut novel, Altaica: Book I in The Chronicles of Altaica, is published by Odyssey BooksTracy has long been a fan of the fantasy genre, but particularly likes novels that deal with deep characterisations and that don’t flinch from the gritty realities of life.  This and her fascination with the notions of “moral greyness”, that “good people can do bad things” and that we cannot escape our past provide the inspiration for her writing.  Combine that with her love of history, horses and archery and you have Altaica.

She grew up on a farm in rural Victoria, in a picturesque dot on the map known as Glenburn.  She spent half of her childhood riding horses and the other half trying to stay out of trouble – the only way she did that was by reading books and writing stories.  She now lives in Melbourne with her husband, two cats and two (very) lazy greyhounds.

Tracy holds a BA (Hons) from Monash University, spent many years in a variety of administrative roles and fortunately never gave up on her childhood dream to become a writer.  In her spare time she tutors a select and unlucky group of students in English.

More information on Tracy and her writing can be found on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Altaica on Amazon or Kobo.

Needing to set aside time for marketing my book

Every self-published author will need to spend time marketing their books to successful sell their books. I have written on this topic before, but since it is a major part of book publishing, I felt it needed to be revisited – especially since I have become guilty of not marketing my books lately.

Ugh. I barely feel I have time to write my latest work in progress let alone have time for marketing. It has been a busy couple of months with the end of school year activities, birthdays and vacations. I barely have done more than work on my blog and send out an occasional promotional tweet.

Gone are the days when I actively promoted my trilogy by finding blogs to be featured on or soliciting reviews. I know there are those authors that can fit it into their daily schedule, but I only have so many free hours and unfortunately I have not been using them to market my current books. But I know that needs to change.

To do this, I am going to have to devote some time each week to marketing. But how much time? I searched the internet and could not find an answer or even an estimation on how much marketing an indie author needs to do. The bad thing is, even if I could find out that magical number, what worked for one person, will not work for another. Just as there is no one-size-fits-all plan for marketing there is no certain set amount of time that an author should spend on marketing.

The best marketing advice at least for newer authors is continue to write. By having multiple books, you increase your credence as an author. Actually, this works for all authors. With each published book, you broaden your appeal and add credibility to your name. There are many readers who when they discover a new author they like, they scoop up every other book that author has written.

And in the beginning, I followed this write-more-books advice. I spent more time writing than marketing. But now with my trilogy complete and feeling as if I have fallen behind in working on my next book, I have lost sight of my marketing plan.

Heck, who I am kidding. The one thing I and many other authors fail at is establishing a marketing plan. Many authors don’t even take the time to figure out who their target audience is. And that is one thing you MUST do to market your book successfully. You need to find who will be interested in your book and reach them through your marketing efforts.

The stories about authors who succeeded without any marketing are rare. Most books, even the really good ones, will become lost in the jumble of the millions of other available titles unless something is done to make them stand out, to make them become discoverable to their target audience.

Marketing takes time. Not just the time to do it but the time to see results. You have to keep working at marketing to be successful. Remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. You need to be in it for the long haul. You have to be a relentless self-promoter.

Unfortunately, many people don’t have the time or patience for that.

So from now on, I am going to start making time for marketing. It probably won’t be daily but even marketing a little each week should help me reach more potential readers.

For some great marketing tips for self-published books, read this post. If you have a print book, check out these marketing tips.