Authors needed for 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 to check out past authors.)

I have a few dates in April as well as all of May (and beyond) open.

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

Check out these past authors.

Guest Post – Candy Korman The Mary Shelley Game (thriller)

Excerpt – Louise Wise Eden (sci-fi romance)

Interview – Connie B. Dowell The Orchid Caper (humor/young adult)

 

KDP Select free book promo results

HeirAlexandria_ebookcoverI posted about trying out Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select back in January before I released my fourth full-length fantasy novel The Heir to Alexandria. It would be my second time trying the Kindle program. (I first tried it with my short story The Search.)

KDP Select is a program where you sell your e-book exclusively on Amazon. As part of the perks, you can either offer your book free for up to five days or offer it at a discount using their Kindle Countdown promotion. Your agreement with Amazon lasts 90 days, and then you can choose whether to renew your enrollment in the program or not.

Now some authors don’t like the program for its exclusivity as not all readers have a Kindle. You could be losing or angering some fans who have a different e-reader. By choosing to be exclusive to Amazon, you are in a sense putting all your eggs in one basket (though a really good basket as Amazon is the largest e-book retailer).

Now my thought about this is that I would only use the program for the initial 90 days and then release my e-book in other formats at Barnes & Noble, Kobo store, I Tunes and all the other e-book retailers after that. I don’t have such a following (yet) that I need to worry about angering my fans by only using Amazon for a short period.

So now let’s get on to my results from using KDP Select’s free book promotion.

First Free E-book Offer

I was really busy when my book came out at the end of January that I didn’t get a chance to offer it for free until March. Research showed that Tuesday and Wednesday would be best for a free promotion. So I picked March 10-11, which was during my kids’ Spring Break vacation from school.

Figuring out how to get the word out about your free book is always complex. I of course announced it on my blog, and my Tribber team helped spread the word. I also listed it on Independent Author Network‘s and World Literary Cafe’s free book sections. Many other websites won’t list your free book if you don’t have the required amount of reviews (typically 20 or more 4 or 5 star reviews) so I didn’t have a lot of other options.

Here is the breakdown from my first two free days…

March 10 – 65 books

March 11 – 11 books

Total free books – 76

Now that wasn’t as good as a result as I would have wanted. But my April was set to be really busy in the beginning and many websites, in addition to the review requirements, want notice of up to weeks in advance.

Second Free E-book Offer

So for my second set of free days, I decided to purchase a few advertisements. I spent $15 ($5 a day) to appear on Digital Book Today‘s website. I also applied to be on E-Reader News Today‘s email and website. (They have to approve you.) For only $15 I would be on Wednesday’s e-mail list and on their homepage. So in addition to these and my previous efforts, this time my free days would also happen during the A to Z challenge when my blog would be getting more traffic.

Here is the breakdown of my second set of free days…

April 21 – 234 books

April 22 (day of E-Reader News Ad) – 1769 books

April 23 – 737 books

Total free books – 2740

top 100 - 82During the free promotion and the week after, I received three new reviews and sold five copies of The Search, two copies of Summoned (Book 1 of my trilogy), one copy of Quietus (Book 2 of my trilogy), and five copies of my trilogy box set. This is in comparison to only one box set sold during my March free promo.

#1 fantasyDuring the free promo, I also rose in sales rank. The Heir to Alexandria got as high as 82 on Kindle’s top 100 free list. It also stayed at number 1 in Epic Fantasy for a whole day.

So do I regret offering my hard work for free? Not at all. I am pleased with the results. I gained reviews and sales. And hopefully as more people read my free book, I will get more of both.

(Really, a free book promo only benefits an author who has other books to offer.)

Of course now my deal with Amazon is over. I have since published my novel on Smashwords and soon it will be available at more e-book retailers.

 

Do you need to copyright your self-published novel?

This is often a question that new self-published authors ask. And the quick answer is no. As soon the words leave your mind and you put them on paper (or type them into your computer file), it is already protected under U.S. copyright law.

Now before I go on, let’s cover what copyrights do NOT cover. They do not cover words, names, symbols (though some symbols can be trademarked) and ideas. That last one is something that often confuses people. If you go around talking about an idea for a novel, it isn’t copyrighted and anyone can take that idea and write a story that is 100% theirs. But as soon as you put those words on the page, those words, your story, is yours and copyright protection is extended to you without having to apply or pay for it.

Now some people will tell you that you need to register your work to get copyright protection, but this isn’t true. As of March 1, 1989, you are automatically protected. You can still register with the U.S. Copyright office for a fee. I found a few websites that said you need to have it officially registered to have your copyright hold up in the court of law. This is FALSE.

So what does registering your copyright provide you?

  • It gives you a public record of when your book was created.
  • Registered works can be eligible for additional statutory damages and/or attorney’s fees if someone violates your copyright, and you take them to court.
  • Registration is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law (which roughly means that is considered a fact without needing further evidence.)

If you are interested in registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, here is how to do it.

Note: If you are submitting your work to a traditional publishing house, do not file an official copyright before you submit it. This is something the publishing house will do after they agree to publish your story.

Speaking of copyrights…you should have a copyright page as part of your front matter.

So what goes on your copyright page?

  1. The © symbol, or the word “Copyright”
  2. The year of first publication of the work; and
  3. an identification of the owner of the copyright—by name, abbreviation, or some other way that it’s generally known.

Together, it should look like this:

© 2015 Susan Leigh Noble

Your copyright page will also have your legal notices and any disclaimers you want to include.

Here is what appears on the copyright page of Summoned.

Note: Since I had submitted my first book, Summoned, to several publishing houses before going the self-publishing route, I listed the copyright date to reflect that.

*******************

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination. Any resemblances to persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.

 

Original Copyright © 1995 by Susan Leigh Noble

First Digital Publication: August 2011

 

Published by Susan Leigh Noble

Cover design by Donna Casey (www.digitaldonna.com)

Photos used to create the cover were obtained from dreamtime.com

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system — except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a magazine, newspaper, or on the web — without expressed written permission from Susan Leigh Noble.

*******************

So basically it is up to you to decide if you want to officially register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright office. I have not done so with any of my books – and that was with the advice from my husband who is an attorney.

 

The all-important book title and covers…

As I work on the second draft of my novel, I have begun thinking about the cover and the title. Even though I have written about both subjects before, I wanted to revisit them since they are so important to the overall impression of the book. They set the tone and create an expectation for the reader.

Titles

I never had any problem with picking a title for the books in my trilogy. box setOnce I decided that The Elemental would be the name of my trilogy instead of the first book, the title Summoned just seemed most appropriate. Quietus and Destiny also were easy picks after I decided to stick with one-word titles.

But my latest book isn’t as easy. The working title has always just been Alexandria. On this blog, I have also referred to the working title as Finding Alexandria.

The other day, my husband suggested Heir of Alexandria. I thought that sounded good. But a quick search on Amazon shows that Mercedes Lackey has a series called Heirs of Alexandria. Darn. I would rather not have my title the same as a series of five books.

Of course Summoned and Destiny are titles that others have used, but I try to stay away from titles used by popular authors. I mean I would never name my book Gone with the Wind or The Hunt for Red October.

So I have considered Alexandria’s Heir or The Search for Alexandria’s heir. I don’t know. Nothing is really clicking with me yet.

Covers                                                   

Covers are very important as this is the first thing the reader sees. You want to select something that intrigues them enough to click on your link and read the book description.

The SearchThis means you want a professional-looking cover. Now I know enough graphic design to design my own (and did so for my short story The Search), but I choose to let someone else with a little more experience do the covers from my trilogy.

Unless you are willing to pay someone to draw you a cover, most designers are using stock photos and graphics. The problem with writing fantasy is that many of the models in those photos are wearing modern clothing. Even the ones in “medieval” garb are not wearing what those in my story wear. It makes selecting artwork hard. And don’t even get me started on finding a decent dragon artwork to use.

So I have been spending some time looking at stock photo sites such as istockphoto and dreamstime. I would love to feature the necklace my character wears but again, there is no artwork that looks like it and I can’t draw. I guess I could look into someone else drawing it for me, but I am wanting to keep my costs low.

I also need to decide if I want to stick with the woman who designed my trilogy covers or go with someone new. She has raised her prices considerably since last time.

Ahh…so much to decide before proceeding. I don’t want to make any hasty decisions on such important topics, so I guess I will keep mulling over what I want to do.

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.

There are just so many authors out there. Hundreds of new books are published daily. Editors of magazines and newspapers receive thousands of press releases. And here is the thing – they DO NOT read them. They scan them. If there isn’t anything that catches their attention in less a few seconds, they discard the press release.

Another reason I have not considered sending a press release to my local paper is that they have never published anything from independent authors and certainly nothing that is only available in e-book format. That isn’t to say that if you live in a smaller city that your newspaper will not cover your release or award but I live the seventh largest city in the United States. I am sure the editors are overwhelmed with notices from authors.

I guess instead of worrying about our main daily paper, I could always try a few of the smaller community weekly papers. And in fact, I may just give press releases a try when my next novel is released in a few months.

So for those of you wanting to send out a press release….

Tips for writing a press release

  • Keep it brief – no longer than one page
  • No flowery writing – simple is better
  • Keep it professional
  • Write in the third person
  • Target your recipient’s readers/viewers (If sending to local paper, might focus on the community/local angle)
  • Keep it to one page!
  • End the press release with ###

Example structure of a Press Release

(I was going to write an example but ran out of time to do it justice so here is the breakdown of what to include.)

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (or enter date)

Contact: Name, email & phone number

Short, catchy headline

Your city & State – Opening paragraph should only be 1-2 sentence and cover the who, what, where, when of your press release. Include your name, book title and why it is relevant to target readers.

Second, third and fourth paragraphs are where you add more detail about the plot, yourself or both. You can consider including a quote from the author. Remember you are writing in the third person and should refer only to your last name after your name is mention in first paragraph. Example – “This is an amazing adventure,” Noble said.

About the Author

A short author bio featuring your writing credentials. (This is only a few sentences!)

###

Be sure to include a high-resolution author photo and a copy of your book cover.

Where to submit a press release

  • Local newspapers – try to send it to the relevant reporter/editor or department. If you are emailing it, pitch the story in your email message and not as an attachment.
  • PRLog.org – this is a free website that can distribute your press release. They do offer paid services with more features.
  • Your own website – Make sure to post it on your own site as a blog entry or its own page so it might be catch some search engine traffic.
  • Magazines or ezines that fit the subject or genre of your book
  • 50 other press release sites – This is an older list but still might direct you to some sites where you can publish your press release

And of course, make sure you follow up with the press releases that you do send out.