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.

Continue reading

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

Nancy: The Big Reveal – Nancy Hunter, Author Website

Last week, I was lamenting my sad lack of progress on my website. This week, I’m singing a different tune.

That’s right. I did it. I completed my author website. You can see it by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post, after I’ve shared some details about creating the site and a few caveats to know before visiting it. Or you can skip straight to the link and come back here after that. (Go ahead, you know you want to do it! It’s definitely what I would do.)

The Look and Feel of the Site

To set up my website, I used a WordPress template built by a company call Author Cats. I’m giving it a try, and might decide at some future time that it’s not the right template for me, so I can’t tell other authors whether it would be right for them. I do think there are some interesting things, to consider. The look of the template is built on an underlying philosophy that is particularly geared to self-publishing writers, but is something to consider for traditionally-published writers as well.

If you’ve done any research on self-publishing, you know how important the author newsletter and the email mailing list used to distribute it is to a writer. It’s one of the few things an author really owns. You don’t own your Facebook or Twitter account. You don’t own your Amazon or Kobo or iBooks account. You can’t force good reviews on Goodreads or count on BookBub ads. But you can connect with readers who would want your books by collecting the email addresses of those who are interested, and then reaching out to them regularly. That’s why you’ll notice that there are two to three places to sign up for my newsletter on every page of my website. And the landing page (where the newsletter sign-up occurs) does not have a menu bar (visitors have to back click to leave the page).

That’s what the site will hopefully do for me, the author. What I hope it will do for visitors is provide a clean, easy-to-navigate place to learn a little bit about me, try a sample of of my work, and effortlessly contact or follow me if that’s their thing.

Placeholder Information

As with many things in life, including me, my website is a work in process. Where appropriate, I’ve made it clear that the Harrow’s Finest Five series will be available in the fall of 2018, the freebie meet cute stories that subscribers get for signing up for my newsletter won’t be sent until May 2018, and the excerpts for kickoff novella and novel 1 will also be unavailable until May. There really is a good reason for this: I want to present the best-possible versions of my books and the excerpts that represent them, which precipitates a good, thorough editing process with an amazing editor. This is happening as we speak, but I want have ‘final’ drafts for another month or so.

I have included placeholder book descriptions on the excerpt pages, in the interest of having something to share about the upcoming books with site visitors. But this, too, will change after I’ve worked with my editor on the book descriptions.

Room to Grow

Some of the self-publishing-specific functionality of the template I’m using is the ability to quickly and easily embed buy links to outside sites that are connected directly to images and text on my website. Changing and updating these links, for instance if I start in Kindle Select and go wide later, is also easy peasy. Easy is important to me. You know how long it took me to get this site set up. When I need to make updates and add more fancy, book-centric bells and whistles, a Nancy-proof way to do so is essential. Otherwise, I’ll never do it.

Over the next several months to a year, I plan to launch websites for my other writing alter egos: Nancy J. Yeager for Women’s Fiction/Mainstream, and NJ Christensen for Mystery/Nordic Noir. (We can discuss the brilliance or idiocy of this plan in a future post.) I had hoped this template would provide an easy way to have multiple home pages that I could manage out of the same site, but it doesn’t look like that’s the case.

Max makes an appearance on my new website, but I hope you won’t see him! He’s on the 404 page.

There are no doubt good technical reasons for this, but sadly, it means I’ll probably have to build separate websites. But it does look like I’ll be able to manage the sites from one dashboard and easily embed links between them. Here’s hoping.

The Reveal

So now, here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for (or, at least, the moment I’ve been waiting for over the past several months). To visit my new website, click on this link to go to nancyhunterbooks.com! And if you’re so inclined, sign up for my newsletter while you’re there. I’ll talk more about that when we closer to the first issue in a few months.

Love the website? Hate it? Have deep thoughts to share? Let me know in the comments.

Jeanne: What’s in a Blurb?

Blurb WriterAs I mentioned in last week’s progress report, I hired the inimitable Kat Sheridan to write back cover copy for The Demon Always Wins. 

Although it’s possible to write your own cover copy, and many writers do, I find it difficult to get the proper distance from my work to do that well. Kat is great at what she does, and really reasonable. Even at minimum wage, I would have spent more trying to write the thing myself.

So, I went online and filled out her Standard Fiction Work Order. It asks for title, author, short description and then descriptions of the two main characters, along with any additional characters the author deems worthy of blurb space. Continue reading

Michaeline: Did you know about Book Week?

Scheherezade in the House!! (image via Wikimedia Commons)

Want a chance to dress up like Harry Potter? Or Matilda? Or Cordelia Vorkosigan after her infamous shopping trip?

Australia is the place to be!

Today is the last day of Children’s Book Week, and I stumbled upon the whole concept only yesterday on The Guardian website. There, they had several cute pictures of kids dressed up for the Book Week parade. A little research showed me that it was held in Australia, and seems to be a tradition of some years. And adults get into the act, as well! I found a 2017 picture of librarians dressed as handmaids, Harry Potter characters, Hobbit characters, and even a where’s Wally. Are the X-files serialized? Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were there, too! (The Canberra Times)

What a wonderful tradition! Imagine that you are in Australia. It’s nearing the end of winter, and you get the chance to dress up as a favorite character. Who would you choose? You can add any restrictions you feel necessary. Links to that book on Goodreads are welcome!

Me? I think I’m feeling rather Nanny Ogg-ish this year! So many great characters to choose from, though – I’m going to pay more

There is some speculation that these girls might be getting their Shakespeare on. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

attention next year!

For more information about Children’s Book Week, check out the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s website. http://cbca.org.au/cbca-childrens-book-week

Nancy: Selling Your Book in 150 Words

There’s been a lot of buzz here on the blog lately about upcoming book releases from several of us here at 8LW, This includes my own Victorian Romance series, with the opening novella tentatively slated for a late October release. One of the realities of publishing these days, whether via the traditional route or self-publishing, is the requirement for authors to market their own books. With that in mind, expect to hear a lot about book marketing here on the blog over the next several months to a year.

Today, I’d like to look at one of the basic marketing building blocks every writer needs that has dominated my brain-space for the last several days: the pitch. You’ve probably heard of it. But what is a pitch? How do you use it? And is it really necessary?

That last question is the easiest to answer: YES!

I’m going to glom together the answers to the other two questions because, in reality, there are different types of pitches, and they’re used for different purposes. Continue reading