Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Guest author Velda Brotherton: Promotion? Where to begin?

Velda Brotherton
Velda Brotherton writes of romance in the old west with an authenticity that makes her many historical characters ring true. A knowledge of the rich history of our country comes through in both her fiction and nonfiction books, as well as in her writing workshops and speaking engagements.  She just as easily steps out of the past into contemporary settings to create novels about women with the ability to conquer life’s difficult challenges. Tough heroines, strong and gentle heroes, villains to die for, all live in the pages of her novels and books.Visit her website and blog to find out more.

I'm so pleased to be asked to contribute to Novel Spaces. Thanks for asking me here. My concern for a lot of authors, especially new ones who are expected to do all their marketing and promoting, is that they don't know where to begin. Social media today is discussed a lot online and many articles and tutorials can be found to deal with sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Linked In and Goodreads. However, it seems to me that authors I speak to don't realize how many sites online will display their book covers with blurbs and excerpts free of charge. I call these virtual book stores. Though readers can't purchase books through them, the information and a buy link is available.

Let's begin with the largest and most effect place to display your books. Remember, these are not social media sites where promoting openly has become a no-no. These are sites which are online to help both the author and reader connect. Some are genre specific, others will take all genres. I can't possibly tell you about all of them here, but I can give you examples of a few and let you know what you need to have ready for them. You can always Google to find more genre specific sites once you understand what they are and how they work.

Amazon Author Central is something every author MUST have. It provides a free author page to every author who has an ISBN or AISN and is listed on their site. As soon as your book is listed on their site, you should set up your account because it can take up to a week for the page to go live. You are expected to fill out a profile in detail about you and the book. Be prepared to provide information such as keywords, tags, characterizations and a synopsis for the reader who will go to the site searching for books to buy.

Also check out Amazon Forums where online discussions can expose your book(s) to a new audience. Follow the rules there. Some of the discussions do not allow promoting; others do. Be careful. Readers and authors hang out on these forum discussions and you want to become known as an expert who shares information.

Other features to check out at Amazon are Keywords, Tags and Listmania.

Be prepared, before going to some of the following sites. Have keywords, tags, excerpts, synopsis and a decent bio in a file together so you can cut and paste without searching all over. Oh, and by the way, that bio? It needs to be clever, not one of those author lives in state, she has four children and three grandchildren and loves to crochet. It should be author oriented. The one I use is at the head of this article. I also have a 200 and 300 word bio for when needed.

I recommend blogs here, because there you can have your book covers and information always in view in a side bar. Two popular places to blog are WordPress and Blogger. Both offer free sites and WordPress also has one that has a charge. You should also look for opportunities to guest on other blogs with an audience of readers looking for your book. That means defining your target market, which is a whole other post. If you belong to some Yahoo Groups, there will always be offers from blog hosts.

I'm going to give you an example of some of the sites I use to display my books. If you want a comprehensive list, go to my website; the list is posted on the blog so you can cut and paste the information.
  • I like The Romance Reviews. If you will display their banner on your website or blog you can feature a different book each month on their site. Lots of competition, but a good place to go for both reader and author.
  • Mutt Online is a neat little site that features artists, poets and writers. There you can post copies of your blogs, write articles, display your art work and photographs. Gets you a lot of attention as an author.
  • Western ebooks posts book covers and runs them continuously like a slide show across the site. If you don't write Westerns, Google your genre for sites like this one that are genre specific.
  • Bublish is a fairly new site which has an interesting concept that I like. You must have an ePub copy of your book, which your publisher should provide, or you can create one yourself if you are self-published. Once that book is uploaded to Bublish (the contract guarantees that it is not for sale, but is locked for only the author's use) you make bubbles around your book that include an excerpt, then a bubble talking about how you wrote that scene, or researched it or how you created that particular character. Anything a reader might be interested in. You may make as many excerpts and bubbles as you wish for each book. Bublish then tweets about your bubbles and you are invited by Twitter to join in the conversation. This keeps stuff going about your book on Twitter without being an outright buy thing. I have put two books there and will upload my latest soon.
  • For those who have their books on Kindle, you should be on Kindle Boards. Be sure to follow the rules; they are strict about in-your-face promo. Use the following to list all your books there.  Put your book's ASIN where the # symbol is and this link will post your book to Kindle boards. I found this difficult to post but managed to get all my books there.
I hope these few examples are enough to encourage writers to take the time to find sites where their books can be put on display. The audience goes round the world and numbers in the millions, so make sure you are taking advantage of this free way to promote from the moment your first book goes on sale.

I'm giving away a Kindle copy of Wilda's Outlaw to one lucky reader. Leave a comment to be entered in the draw!

Wilda's Outlaw, published by The Wild Rose Press, is a Western Historical romance that takes place in Victoria, Kansas, founded by a group of Victorians who wished to transplant their ways onto the plains of Kansas. They built castles, shipped over their cattle, sheep and bob-tailed ponies. The experiment lasted about ten years before most of the English settlers either embraced the ways of the West or returned to England.

Lord Blair Prescott found Wilda Duncan, her sister Rowena and cousin Tyra living in an orphanage in Manchester, England. He chose her to be his wife and promised he would also care for Rowena and Tyra until they married. When the young women arrive in Victoria after a year-long trip, Wilda despises Prescott and his controlling ways. She recalls the green-eyed outlaw she met when the train they were on was robbed, and with Tyra's help in locating him, requests that he kidnap her so she won't have to marry Prescott.

Velda Brotherton


Charles Gramlich said...

I haven't made as much use of the Amazon forums as I should. I do have an author central page. Goodreads is another place to get a page and get your books listed.

Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for these tips. The problem is that one feels one has never done enough promotion. It's so hard to know when to sit back and relax, or worse, start writing something new again!
best, catinitaly

Anonymous said...

Negotiating social media and platform-building is one of the necessities for every writer. I try to approach it with a positive attitude: an opportunity to write and talk about my writing.

That cover... I want that cowboy!

Anonymous said...

Charles, I appreciate the comment. There are so many places online to get your work displayed, it boggles the mind. Some are probably better than others, and you're right about Good Reads. It's a popular site.
Julie, I know, I want the cowboy too, but alas, he remains anonymous. Thanks for commenting.

Phyl Campbell said...

Thanks for posting, Ms. Velda! A lot of promotion online involves a lot of overwhelming options, dos, and don'ts, and I think you navigated them nicely for others. Much success!

Donna Fasano said...

Velda, thank you so much for this information!

Liane Spicer said...

Velda, welcome to Novel Spaces!

Thank you for these great promotion ideas. Some I've got covered, like Goodreads and Amazon Author Central, but there are others here of which I'm totally ignorant. Bookmarking this article.

I agree with Julie; that cowboy is rather fetching. :D

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Donna and Phyl for paying me a visit on Novel Spaces. Glad you found something in my blog to help you with promotion. Check out the list on my blog for many, many more. I'm still collecting and will have a presentation at OWFI in May on this subject.

G. B. Miller said...

Got some good ideas here, although I would like to add a caveat to your suggestion of a blog.

While blogs are a good thing to have, a writer shouldn't set up a blog as an afterthought to the parts of his/her platform.

Having a blog requires spending a lot of time building up an audience, and I can't tell you the amount of times I've been turned off by a writer's blog that gets updated maybe a few times a month.

If you're updating a blog a few times a month, you're simply wasting yours and everyone else's time.

A blog is something to use as a lauch point for other parts of your platform.

To whit: I've been blogging for almost 5 years, and I've used my blog as a stepping stone/lauch pad for my writing. I found my voice and built my audience with my blog, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Anonymous said...

G. B. You're absolutely right. It would take another post to help people learn the real value of a blog. Kristen Lamb does the best job leading writers through the ins and outs of blogging. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

Anonymous said...

Liane, Julie Luek has won an e copy of Wilda's Outlaw my latest book. Thanks for having me on your blog, Novel Spaces. I enjoyed it.

Sunny Frazier said...

Found so many good links to add to my list from your article! Thank you so much. (and yes, the cowboy is HOT)

Eugenia O'Neal said...

How interesting! I'd never heard of Bubblish - sounds fun!

Liane Spicer said...

You're welcome, Velda. It was our pleasure. Congratulations, Julie! Happy reading!