Justine: A Lesson (or at Least an Exercise) in Author Branding

41323542 - brand branding marketing commercial name conceptI really don’t like branding. At least the coming-up-with-it part. Just to set the proper expectations. Some people go nuts for this kind of stuff. Not me.

What you read below is my lesson/exercise in personal branding. I am no expert, that’s for sure, so caveat emptor. I knew after deciding to self-publish that I’d need to rebrand myself, and I’m oh-so-lucky that I attended an awesome Damon Suede (DS) seminar last weekend on marketing and branding.

Brand new author brand? Here I come!

One of the key things that we learned from Damon was Continue reading

Jilly: Evaluating Also-Boughts

What’s your most tried-and-tested method of finding new authors to read? Do you ever use Amazon’s also-boughts?

I’m always checking out new search methods and new-to-me authors, but lately my selections have been especially hit-and-miss. The problem is that “I’ll know it when I read it” is not really searchable. I’m looking for a combination of qualities rather than neat pigeonholes like settings or subgenres.

I like upbeat stories with happy endings, romances or books with a strong romantic subplot. After that it gets tricky. I want heroes and heroines with intelligence, agency, and emotional depth. I love stories where strong characters deal honestly with one another, especially when that’s difficult. I prefer confrontation to secrets or lies or withholding information. My fave authors write series with strong communities. I actively seek out humor and kindness. I enjoy voice, but not when it tips over into look-at-me writing. I love a good sex scene, but only if it moves the story. I’ll try most subgenres.

I believe the Zon is one of the most powerful search engines in existence, but while it’s awesome at identifying reverse harem cowboy stories (not kidding), the search box is not my friend.

Continue reading

Jeanne: The Swag Decision

Basket of applesA couple of weeks ago I did a post on swag–the items authors make available to potential readers to lure them into checking out our books. The post generated a lot of discussion among the Eight Ladies in the comments, debating the pros and cons of rival items.

After sifting through all the great suggestions, I’ve decided to put out bookmarks with QR codes linking to the first three chapters of The Demon Always Wins. Those chapters give a good flavor of what the book is like, so if people read those, they’ll either decide to buy the book, or decide that they’re not my audience, which is okay, too.

Another suggestion that bubbled up during those discussions was the idea of setting out a basket of apples to get people’s attention. Apples, as you may remember, are part of my branding. There’s a lot of junk food available at Nationals, but not a lot of healthy stuff, so it’s good on that score, too. Continue reading

Jeanne: To KU or Not to KU?

Years ago, when I started journalism classes at Indiana University, our professor told us this joke as a metaphor for interviews:Kindle Unlimited

A tourist asks a professional gambler if there’s a roulette wheel in town.

“There’s one at the casino,” says the gambler, “but it’s crooked.”

“If it’s crooked, why do you play?” asks the tourist.

“It’s the only wheel in town,” says the gambler.

For self-published, debut authors with no established readership, Kindle Unlimited feels like it could be that roulette wheel. Continue reading

Jeanne: That’s Swag!

The Demon Always Wins

In July, thanks to my Golden Heart® final, I’ll be attending the 2018 RWA® National Conference in Denver. The conference will attract a couple of thousand romance writers, who are also romance readers. Because I’m planning to release my first books this fall, it’s time to think about swag for the Goody Room.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, swag are small, inexpensive items authors give away to publicize their work. (Also, apparently, it’s a new slang term for what used to be cool. The things you discover when you’re googling something else.)

Examples include: Continue reading

Jilly: Aliens or Werewolves? Why?

If you were stranded on a desert island or snowed up in an isolated cabin and you could have only one novel to read, would you choose shifters or aliens? You don’t know the author. You don’t get to see the cover or read the blurb, you just have to choose a sub-genre. Fantasy/urban fantasy, or sci-fi?

My question arises courtesy of an explanation I read this week on Ilona Andrews’ blog. Like many of their fans, I am super-excited about their current Innkeeper serial, a novel posted in free instalments every Friday.

Sweep of the Blade is a courtship story between Maud, a human who was previously married to an asshat vampire and has sworn off the species for good, and Arland, a swoon-worthy alpha male vampire of aristocratic lineage who’s unshakeably in love with her and makes no secret of it. He persuades her to accompany him to his home planet, and high-octane high jinks ensue. The story features hierarchical, militaristic vampire dynasties in space, family politics, deadly conspiracies, and some serious arse-kicking delivered by Maud and her young daughter, Helen. It’s clever, moving, funny, exciting, and kind.

Apparently fans have been writing to the authors to squee about the story and to ask why they don’t quit writing their other series so we can all have more Innkeeper. Among a handful of reasons, Ilona offered this explanation:

Innkeeper is a SF at its core. Aliens are a harder sell than werewolves. 🙂 A lot of people who would actually like Innkeeper, if they gave it a shot, read the description and walk away from it because it has Science Fiction elements.

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Nancy: Big Reveal: Novel 1 Cover Copy

 Many, many months ago, I shared my cover blurb (aka the 150-word pitch) of my Victorian Romance series kickoff novella and got some great feedback. Since then, I’ve worked on the cover blurb for novel 1 of the series.

This time, I spent even more time on Amazon reading blurb after blurb on historical romance books. I took note of which rhythms and devices appealed to me. At its heart, the cover copy is sales copy; its job is to sell the story, so I gauged my own response to determine which blurbs had me itching to hit the buy button. Then came the hard part: applying those lessons learned to my own book.

As expected, a few hours into the agonizing process, I was pretty sure I’d written the first book in the history of publishing that absolutely would not, could not be captured in a cover blurb. But deep down, I was also pretty sure that every author who’d ever worked on cover copy’d had that same thought. And so I persisted, and came up with this early draft of the cover copy. I’ll work on it with my editor  – who has helped write cover copy for decades – after she has edited the story. But for now, I’d love to get your feedback! Continue reading