Authors WANTED – Friday Featured #Author Spot

wantedAre you an author looking for some additional publicity for your latest book?

I host guest authors every Friday – any genre, both traditionally and self-published.

The post can take one of three formats: author interview, book excerpt or a guest post on any aspect of writing, publishing, or book marketing.

Sign up is on a first-come-first-served basis, though I do have a few Tuesday openings to accommodate special requests for dates related book tours, book releases or cover reveals. (Click the Featured Authors link on the left to check out past authors.)

If you are interested, send me a message along with any date requests, and we’ll take it from there.

WhiteSmoke down 3 weeks, almost had to find a new grammar program

I have written a few times on my blog about using Grammar-checking software. Back in 2012, I found the program WhiteSmoke. It is a cloud-based program that has done a good job of checking grammar for my blog and novels.

At the end of October, I received a notice that my license expired, which is odd since I upgraded two years to a license that doesn’t expire. I tried contacting the company through their support page. No response. I tried e-mail. No response. I called and the phone just rang and rang.

I went to the company’s Facebook page and found out that I was not the only one with this problem. Many customers on their Facebook page reported the same thing. Their life-time license wasn’t working, and they can’t get a hold of anyone in the company by phone, email, Facebook or through the support system.

This went on for almost a month, so I decide the company must no longer exist and began looking for a new grammar-checking program.

Now I know that grammar-checking software is not fool-proof. There is no software out there that will catch every error. Even WhiteSmoke sometimes would suggest things that weren’t correct or at least made no sense. These were typically word choices and not punctuation situations. You do have to review each suggestion to make sure it is correct for what you are writing.

Beyond WhiteSmoke (which was at top pick in 2016 by TopTenReviews.com), the next two most popular programs seem to be Grammerly (number 2 on TopTenReviews) and Ginger (not rated on TopTenReviews). Another site ranks Grammarly as number one – followed by Ginger and WhiteSmoke.

Here is a quick look at the other two.

Grammarly (website

  • It offers a free version but will only give writing suggestions on the paid version.
  • Paid version checks for more errors than free version.
  • More Expensive than WhiteSmoke and Ginger at $139.95 for a year subscription
  • It includes a Plagiarism checker on premium version.
  • No free trial of premium version

Ginger Software (website

  • Works on multiple platforms
  • Free version only analyzes a limited number of words per check and not the whole text.
  • No plagiarism tool
  • Offers two paid versions – basic and premium – The basic version is $61.20 per year.
  • It includes dictionary and translation tools which Grammarly doesn’t.
  • The software will actually read your sentences or the words it suggests be replaced.
  • I found it hard to find anything on the site other than the free version. I figure after you download it, they might “suggest” the upgrade.

Both look like good options, and I was trying to make my decision on which one to go with when all of a sudden I received an email from WhiteSmoke. They reported that their servers had experienced technical difficulties, and they had been working non-stop to fix them. I guess that means they were too busy to update their website (that was still taking orders) or post on their Facebook page or at least have a message on their phone for all of those of us panicking that our program no longer worked.

So as of today, their program is back to working. Now with this last bit of poor customer service, I am not sure I want to recommend them to others, but I am going to continue to use them since I have already bought the non-expiring, free upgrades license from two years ago. But at least now if something does really happen to them, I know I have two other good programs to choose between.

Take the time to proofread everything you write

Three weeks ago, I wrote a post on the need for people to be able to write a professional e-mail. Soon after that, the principal of my kids’ school sent out a long email riddled with grammatical and punctuation errors. Many of the teachers seemed quite embarrassed by it.

When we as authors get ready to submit or publish our book, we usually take great pains to proofread the text, whether we do it ourselves or hire someone else to do it. Even then mistakes slip through the cracks. But beyond your book, do you proofread everything you send? Or are you like the principal and just send something out without a second glance?

proofI have to say that I spend probably way too much time crafting my emails. I almost never jot off a quick message. I read and re-read it to make sure it says what I want it to say clearly. This actually is considered editing. It is the looking for grammatical and typographical errors that are considered proofreading. I typically give my email a once over for punctuation before sending it.

Now I can say for a fact that not all authors do the same. I get email correspondence all the time from authors for my Friday Featured Author spot. And then there are the submissions – especially the author interviews and author bios. Many times I see grammar, punctuation and style errors in these documents.

Now sometimes, I may make the correction such as italicizing the book titles, but often I don’t have the time to correct someone else’s work. I did put in paragraph breaks for the one author, who didn’t seem to think he needed any. This was on an excerpt, and I don’t know how he thought anyone would want to read this long block of text.

Both the emails and the submissions for my blog, in my opinion, should be proofread before submitting. These authors are putting their work out there for others to see. If I was a reader and I saw an interview riddled with mistakes in grammar and punctuation, I might wonder about whether the author’s books are this way too. (Of course, course I guess it could be reflecting poorly on me since it is my blog. I hadn’t think about that until just now.)

So my suggestion for authors is to proofread everything you write – from a quick email, to your interview questions, to your post on your own blog and of course your novel.

Some tips for proofreading:

  • Take a break between writing and proofing
  • Read the text aloud
  • Read it backwards
  • Use a grammar-checker – but don’t rely solely on grammar or spell check.
  • Print out your text and proof it on paper versus the screen.
  • Have someone else read it

As an author, you want to have the best image possible. To ensure that comes across to your associates and potential readers, please make sure you proofread all of your correspondence and anything meant for posting online.

Pricing your e-book – revisited

When I began this blog, I wrote about pricing your e-book. This was three and a half years ago, and I was new to the industry. Today, many authors still struggle with how to price their e-books.

You worked hard – spending months, even years – on this book. You think it is worth as much as any New York best-seller. The problem is you aren’t Stephen King or John Grisham. No one – or very few people – recognize your name.

Now while e-book versions of New York bestsellers sell from $6.99 to $14.99 (based on my quick glances of prices from three well-known authors), should you expect the same price for your book?

In my opinion, no. You may have a well-written novel but people don’t know you, and many will not be willing to shell out that type of money for an unknown.

There are readers out there who only want discount books. Some will pay 99 cents while others think they can find enough good “free” books. And then there are those readers who are suspicious of a cheaply priced book and consider those not worth their time.

You have to decide what the readers of your genre will pay. And you have to decide what you feel comfortable pricing your book. Sure you want to make money but if no one buys your book because it is priced too high, then even if it is a quality read it won’t sell.

pricingI am among the readers who will not pay high prices for books, whether they are from famous, well-known names or unknowns. I buy books anywhere from 99 cents to $3.99 from an unknown author. And I don’t go much higher for those well-known authors like Nora Roberts. I wait until I see the book on sale (usually in paperback) and buy it then.  I don’t think I have every paid over $7 for a fiction e-book.

How you determine your e-book price is totally up to you. You can price it high because you think it is worth that, or because you know how much work went into writing, editing and publishing your work. But readers typically don’t care much about what goes into writing a book. They only care about the end result. They want to know what is in it for them.

Assumingly that is hours of enjoying a good book. It can also take them to exotic destinations or even to other worlds. It can introduce them to interesting characters. It can provide them an escape from daily life. Your book may be able to offer them all this and more.

But just because you offer all this to your reader doesn’t mean you can automatically price your book at a higher price. Many readers will still not take a chance at a new author with books priced too high. This doesn’t mean you have to ignore your books value to the reader. It just means you need to price it low enough to entice readers to give it a try.

As with anything, there is always an exception to any “rule.” There is nothing wrong with offering a short story or the first book in the series at a really low price to entice a reader to give your work a try. My short story, The Search, is free everywhere but Amazon (where it is just 99 cents). I wrote this short prequel to my The Elemental trilogy to be a loss-leader. I am hoping people will download (or buy it) and enjoy it so much that they will want to buy the next three books (and then my stand-alone book, The Heir to Alexandria). I know many authors that have the first book in their series either perma-free or priced at 99 cents for the same reason.

So bottom line…consider carefully what price you give your e-book. A lot of authors, including myself, price their books at the $2.99 mark since this allows the higher royalty rate on Amazon but is still low enough to entice readers to give an unknown author a try. Is this rate right for you? Only you – and the e-book market – can decide.

 

Guest Post: Author Holly Kerr

Today I welcome author Holly Kerr to my blog. She recently released her latest book – The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd.

Guest Post: Why The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd was the Most Fun I’ve Had Writing a Book

First of all, I am incredibly lucky to be able to write full-time. Writing is my career and it’s something I enjoy doing every day. I love to write; to create characters, develop plots and dialogue. I’ve had amazing experiences writing my novels and for each, I’ve put in a little certain something of myself; from adding real life pregnancy trials and tribulations in my first book, Unexpecting; to delving into my relationship with my sister in Coming Home; to researching the infamous spirit in Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder and especially using my kids as characters in my kids lit novel The Dragon Under the Mountain.

But writing The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd was something special.

For the first time, (except for Dragon) I moved away from the women’s fiction/ chick lit genre. I still classify Charlotte as chick lit, but it’s more. There’s action. Adventure. Fight scenes. Jumping out of a helicopter. There’s even a car chase where a Mini Cooper does a 360 degree spin and our heroine manages to shot the car following them.

There’s the old advice – write what you know.  Great advice and I do my best to follow it. I don’t write about architecture or Russian espionage or quantum physics because I wouldn’t have a clue where to start! I write about having a baby and sisters and girls’ night outs. And for Charlotte, I wrote about a twentysomething girl confused about her boyfriend.

Charlotte is a little more than that.

I have to admit, I haven’t exactly done all of the things that Charlotte gets to in the story. I’ve got into a drunken shouting match in my youth, but I’ve never actually thrown a punch. I’ve ziplined, but never between high-rise hotels.  I would love to say I have first- hand experience of all of Charlotte’s adventures, but I can’t.

Note to self: maybe I shouldn’t admit that! It might be a great marketing tool if I let everyone think I’m as bad-ass as Charlotte. After all, there were readers convinced Unexpecting was an autobiography. (It isn’t btw, nor is it non-fiction. It’s a made up story!)

But I can’t do it. I can’t devise a Charlotte-like persona to sell books because I would inevitably slip up and make myself look silly.

I’m getting off topic. Charlotte – fun to write.  But how could I write about all these dangerous situations Charlotte finds herself in?

Research. And research for me means watching movies and T.V shows!

I scrutinized and analyzed every movie, every television show I watched for moves I could use for Charlotte. I re-watched episodes of Alias and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; both Buffy and Sydney Bristow were my inspiration. I watched the fight scene in Fast and Furious 7 between Lettie and the female guard countless times. Writing fight scenes are like choreographing a dance. Your hand goes here; your foot goes here. Could someone actually pick you up like that? Is this even possible?

And I dug deep into my imagination for scenes of excitement. Like the helicopter scene. Why wouldn’t you have a character base jump from a helicopter onto a hotel, than zipline across to the neighbouring building instead of having her simply walk through the lobby?!

Writing action scenes was something I’d never done before. I guess I did have a fight in Coming Home but adding in fists and flips and body-slamming is a little different. And again – so much fun!

I’ve enjoyed myself so much that I’ve already started writing the next book, a sequel to The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd!

About the Author

Holly Kerr writes chick-lit with a twist. No broody men, no obsessions with shoes, just fun stories about strong women going after what they want.

Her books include Coming Home, Unexpecting and Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder and her latest, The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd.

If you require more information about Holly and her books (and she really hope you do because that was her whole reason for setting up this page!) feel free to visit her website
or follow her Blog. At times she discusses the craft of writing but usually she muses about her life and what’s she reading, writing or watching. Following her blog would be a great way to make Holly happy.

Holly hopes you enjoy her books and she welcomes a chance to interact with her fans, but not in any creepy way. A simple comment “Hey, I really like/don’t like…” would be a lovely way to begin a conversation.

You can find out more about Holly on her blog.

You can purchase The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd on Amazon.

 

Updated list of hashtags for authors

A few years ago, I wrote about Hashtags for authors. This is an updated list of hashtags. (And yes, I checked every one of them to make sure they are still in use.)

hashtagFor those of you who use Twitter, you are probably already familiar with the idea of hashtags. These are keywords prefixed with a hash or “pound” (#) symbol. They help categorize your tweets and help others easily find tweets about similar subjects.

Used correctly, Twitter hashtags are one of the best ways to connect with industry experts, readers, and other authors.

The use of relevant hashtags increases the likelihood that others will see your post and become a follower. It is a great way to engage a particular community of Twitter users.

The following is a list of some of the hashtags for authors or writers. Most are self-explanatory. If you use any that I missed, please leave them in the comment section and I will add them to the list.

For when you are writing

#amwriting – comments from other authors

#amediting – comments from those in the editing stage

#amrevising – comments from those revising their work

#editing

#proofreading

#reading

#storytelling

#WIP – work in progress

#WriteGoal

#WritePrompt or #prompts – if you want to give assignments out.

#writing

#writingtip or #writetip – writing tips from other authors and editors

#writerwednesday – or more often #WW- used to give a shout-out to writers or suggest authors to follow. (#WW also is used by some Weight-Watchers)

General book/writing

#Amazon

#author or #authors

#book or #books

#bookWorm

#ebook

#epub

#epublish

#fiction

#iBooks

#iPad (this brings up many other posts than books)

#iTunes

#KDP – for Kindle Direct Publishing

#kindle

#KindleBooks

#Kobo

#Nook

#novel or #novels

#selfpublishing or #selfpub

#Smashwords

#Sony (this brings up many other posts than books)

#writer or #writers

Genre-specific

#adventure

#ChickLit

#Childrensfiction

#christfic

#ChristianBooks

#Christianromance

#cookbooks (could also use #food – #cooking – #recipes or such if promoting a cookbook) #crime or #crimefiction

#DarkFantasy

#Dystopian

#EpicFantasy

#Erotica

#fantasy

#histfic and #histnovel – used for historical fiction

#horror

#humor

#kidlit

#litfic – literary fiction

#mystery

#mysterywriter

#nonfiction

#paranormal

#poetry

#romance

#romanticSuspense

#scifi

#ScienceFiction

#short or #shortstory or #shortstories

#suspense
#thriller or #Thrillers

#TrueStories

#womensfiction
#YA – young adult

#YAfiction

#YAlit

For promotions

#99cents or #99c

#authorinterview

#authorRT

#blogtour or #virtualbooktour

#bookbuzz

#bookgiveaway

#booklook (for excerpts – currently not popular)

#bookreview

#excerpt

#fictionFriday

#Fridayreads – promoting what book you are currently reading

#free

#freebook

#FreeDownload

#freeebook

#FreeReads

#giveaway

#Goodreads – relates to the site Goodreads and its followers

#IndieThursday

#interview or #interviews

#KindleBargain

#newrelease

#SampleSunday – offering a link to an excerpt or sample of your work

#teaserTuesday Or #TeaserTues- usually a line from your novel and a link to a sample

#WW or #WriterWednesday

Other

#author or #authors

#blurb

#booklover

#bookmarket

#buyindie

#ereaders

#GreatReads

#novellines or #novelines – when quoting a line from your (or someone else’s) novel

#ff – stands for “follow Friday” where other writers share people to follow (also used by many non-writers)

#indieauthor or #indieauthors

#indie

#indiebook or #indiebooks

#IndiePub or #IndiePublishing

#mustread

#pubtip – tips on publishing

#readers

Book Marketing Recap

Every so often I like to post a recap of some of my previous posts. Since this month I have been focusing on book marketing, I thought it was the perfect time for a recap of other posts I have written on the topic. It was hard to a narrow it down but this is about half of the marketing posts I have written.

Listed are the title of the post and the first few lines. If you want to read that post, simply click on the link.

Finding your book’s target market

The key to marketing your book is to market it to the reader who might actually be interested in reading your story. It does no good to spend all your time and marketing effort to try to sell your book to EVERYONE. (Click here to read more.)

Cover Reveal as a Marketing Tool

Blank Book CoverSo you have written a book and are in the process of editing it. In just a few months, it will be out there for the world to buy. But before you publish your book, you will want to create a buzz about your upcoming release. That is where a cover reveal comes into play. (Click here to read more.)

Exploring other marketing avenues – Etsy, Pinterest and YouTube

Self-published are always looking for effective ways to market their books. There are a multitude of sites that cater to readers or authors or both. But there are other options that authors may have not considered. Here are a few of the more off-the-beaten path options for marketing or selling your book. (Click here to read more.)

Buying ads to sell your book

Publishing a book and then hoping someone will stumble upon it and buy it will result in very few sales. To be successful you will need to market your book. This is an ongoing process that usually begins before you publish. One option for marketing is to buy advertisements. (Click here to read more.)

Tips for drafting your author bio

Every author needs an author bio, whether it is for their book, web page, Facebook, author page or when appearing as a guest blogger. The purpose of an author bio is to give readers a clue about who you are and what you are about. Sometimes writing a bio can be difficult, especially for new authors. Here are a few tips for drafting your author bio. (Click here to read more.)

E-book press releases often don’t bring results

Many authors tout the importance of sending out press releases to announce your latest release or the writing award you just received. So far, I have yet to do this with any of my e-books. I don’t do this mainly because I have been on the other side. I was the features editor of my college newspaper. I was inundated with press releases and freebies. Barely 1 to 2 percent of what came in would make it into our weekly publication. (Click here to read more.)

Creating a book trailer on a budget

A book trailer is used to whet your audience’s appetite. Now I don’t know if it is the best marketing tool to help sell your book but I decided to put one together for Summoned, the first book in my trilogy. (Click here to read more.)

Author website or blog: Do you need one, both or neither?

Nowadays authors need to make sure they have a visible internet presence but do you need to have a website or a blog? Do you need both or have the lines between these two blurred enough that only one is required? (Click here to read more.)

blogStarting a blog as a marketing tool

One of the keys to selling your novel is to get your name before the masses. The more you participate on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter the more people will begin to know you and in turn know about your books.

Rather than tweeting out about your book, you can use your blog as a way to gain an online presence and build your audience. (Click here to read more.)

Goodreads: An introductory guide of authors

If you want to sell books, go where readers congregate. And that place is Goodreads. Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. (Click here to read more.)

Using Wattpad to gain readers

When I originally looked into self-publishing my first novel, Summoned, I was directed to Wattpad as a place to feature an excerpt of my novel. Sadly, I didn’t heed this advice because using Wattpad can be a great way to introduce your writing to millions of readers.

Wattpad claims to be the world’s largest community for discovering and sharing stories. On this website, users can post their stories or read one of the thousands of new stories posted every day. Wattpad’s dedicated readers spend over 2 billion minutes each month on the site. (Click here to read more.)

Using World Literary Cafe to promote your book

I have written about many good websites for author support or promotion (Authors Database, Independent Authors Network, Goodreads, Wattpad). Here is another one to add to the list – World Literary Cafe.

The World Literary Café is an online community bridging the gap between readers and authors.  They offer promotions to authors, reviewers, bloggers and editors by bringing them together on one site. (Click here to read more.)

Using Twitter as a marketing tool for your novel

Twitter can be a good marketing tool, and I have wanted to write about it for some time. But there are already countless websites that explain the basics and just as many from other authors explaining the dos and don’ts of using Twitter to promote your book. (Click here to read more.)