Michaeline: Writing to a Cover

A beautiful young woman is given advice from a cowled old woman as a volcano spouts a tangle of green, weird bodies. 1930s.

Margaret Brundage’s covers from Weird Tales almost always featured women. Here’s one cover that might pass the Bechdel test. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Take this with a grain of salt, but let me tell you a story about covers. In the science fiction and fantasy genre, the publishers seem to be quite generous with extra pages to tell the story behind the story – perhaps it’s a factor of being a geek. We want to see how the sausage is made. So, in many SFF novels, the author gets a few pages to talk about process, or memories about the publishing world, or other things.

In one of these books, an author talked about the Golden Age of SFF magazines, and mentioned that not only did publishers find cover artists to illustrate stories, but sometimes they would commission a work from an artist, and find a writer to narrate the art.

I think a lot of us can relate – all of us here at Eight Ladies have used the collage method for deepening a story and finding more connections. I have tons of storage dedicated to image files that help me understand what I’m “seeing” in my story.

But this is one step further – writing to a picture.

There’s an interesting anecdote on Wikipedia (here) about the pulp fiction artist, Margaret Brundage. Her covers were Continue reading

Jeanne: My First Book Birthday

Roses from A&A

Saturday, September 1, was my debut book release. It went well–I even received this lovely bouquet of roses from my daughter, congratulating me on achieving a life-time dream.

Because I’d badgered, I mean, encouraged people to pre-order the ebook, my royalties report on my Amazon Central Dashboard looked like this at the end of the first day:

 

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Elizabeth: Newsletter Deep Dive

Last week I talked a bit about the sessions at the recent RWA conference that dealt with marketing and author promotion.  Specifically I expounded, in my curmudgeonly way, about mailing lists and newsletters.

Spoiler alert:  I’m not a fan.

It turns out, however, that I’m hardly representative of the typical romance reader.  Based on a totally unscientific poll of readers, along with some actual numerical information from the aforementioned conference sessions, readers actually do like getting newsletters from their favorite authors – go figure – and newsletters can be an effective component of your marketing plan.

I’ll talk about how to go about building up your mailing list (besides asking all of your friends and relatives to sign up) in a future post.  Today, I’m going to talk about some of the basics to keep in mind when deciding to develop/launch a newsletter. Continue reading

Jeanne: In Which I Freak Out a Little

People kept warning me that marketing a book is really time-consuming. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe them, exactly. More that I didn’t know enough about what I’d have to do to understand how much time we were talking about.

Let me educate you:

  1. You need to grow your platform. That means:
    1. Aggressively friending people on Facebook.
    2. Inviting all those brand new friends to Like your Author page
    3. Dealing with the sudden onset of people, in turn, friending you, many of whom I suspect are Russian trolls and Nigerian princes.
    4. Which means reviewing profiles. Despite your best efforts, some of the ones you accept will immediately attempt to contact you via Messenger to a) offer you a business opportunity (Buy My Jewelry! Day Trade at Home!) or b) request money for their charity.
    5. Searching out people to follow on Twitter.
    6. Following them back (which requires looking at their tweets to be sure you’re not following a known psychopath)
    7. Being winsome on Instagram. (That’s much easier. See flower pics below.)
    8. Participating in any other social media you can tolerate. (Hasn’t happened–I’m already well over my tolerance limit with Twitter, which a writing friend likened to an “angry kaleidoscope.”
  2. Collect as many invitations as you can muster to appear on blogs, with the understanding that each of them is going to want a completely original blog post and a never-before-seen snippet from the book. Thus far I’ve written:
    1. A recipe describing Belial, my protagonist, for the Alpha Male Cafe over at I Smell Sheep, a paranormal romance blog. That one will appear on September 9.
    2. A post titled, “When the Drapes Don’t Match the Carpet,” on the importance of covers conveying what’s inside the book for Fresh Fiction, appearing September 13
    3. A Q&A for the USA Today HEA blog for September 6th (including a pic of me with my 90’s hair, if you’re interested. I must say, I had a bucket of hair back in the 90’s.)
    4. An interview with Belial for D. Lieber’s Ink and Magick blog that begins with the phrase, “Welcome to Ink & Magick. I’m your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you today?” Date yet to be determined.
    5. And we’re working on several more. For that reason, I share with you a half dozen of the bazillion wildflower pictures I’ve taken over the past few years.

      Because somebody needs to remember to take time to smell those beauties.

Elizabeth: Mailing lists and Newsletters

A number of the sessions I attended at the recent RWA conference dealt with marketing and author promotion.  Gone are the days when writers wrote, and “all those other folks” took care of promoting, marketing, and actually selling books.  The advent of self-publishing has also given rise to self-designing, self-promoting, self-marketing, and a lot of other “self-” things that cut into the time when, as a writer, you’d probably really just rather be writing.

Maybe that’s just me.

One of the things that many of the conference sessions I attended had in common was a focus on newsletters and developing a mailing-list as a way to reach potential readers and get them to actually buy your books.  Erica Ridley talked about the mechanics of choosing an email provider, evaluating features, and providing incentives for readers to sign-up on a mailing list; Mark Dawson talked about  leveraging mailing lists in the book launch process;  and a group of authors talked about the benefits of cross-promotions for expanding visibility and growing mailing lists.

While the presenters all made valid points, I had to wonder how effective mailing lists and email newsletters really are, especially considering the amount of time their care-and-feeding seems to require. Continue reading

Justine: Seeking Out Rejection to Overcome It

Are you sitting on your finished MS, dying-but-hating to send it out to the A-list of agents and editors you met at a recent conference? Perhaps you’ve signed up for a mentor program, but you’re anxious about putting your 60,000 word baby in the hands of someone else. Or, you found a great new critique partner, but you keep putting off sharing your chapters because “it’s just not quite right yet.”

You’ve got a rejection problem…or really, the fear of it.

Cue Jia Jiang, an entrepreneur and educator who formed an early association to rejection anxiety when he was six years old. Watch in this humorous TED talk as he explains how exposing himself to rejection for 100 days actually lessened the anxiety he felt about being rejected, and actually opened up opportunities he otherwise wouldn’t have had. It’s a lesson we can all learn from (although I don’t think I’ll be asking for “burger refills” at the local burger joint).

What is your worst rejection moment? Your best? What lessons can you share with writers who are afraid to put their work out there?

Jeanne: The First Pancake, Part Two

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about how self-publishing your first book is kind of like making your Pancakefirst pancake–it may turn out just fine, or it may be a scorched, runny mess, depending on how good a job you do of making the batter, setting up the griddle, etc.

I managed to get The Demon Always Wins set up for pre-order on Amazon on July 31. As of last night, I had 59 pre-orders. That may not seem like much, but according to Kameron Hurley, the average self-published book sells only 250 copies in its lifetime. And while the average traditionally-published book sells 3000 copies over the course of its publication life, 250-300 is the usual first year total.

So, with two-and-a-half weeks remaining till my book actually becomes available, I’ve already hit 22% of average lifetime sales for self-pubs and of first-year sales for traditional books.

So yay!

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