Amazon has a cool feature that lets you read the first few chapters of RELIC: BLADE right here on the site. If you like what you see, click on the ‘BUY ON AMAZON’ link below the book. To start, click on the “FREE PREVIEW” link and you can start reading on this page. Just tap the right/left arrows to move between pages.
I was nine when I spoke to Dad for the last time. I’d forgotten to thank him for a birthday present. I believe it was a Radio Shack radio.
“You forgot, huh?” he said, on the phone.
Long pause. I was a sensitive kid. I think I knew that my nine years as his son were about to get gutted.
“Screw off,” he told me, a thousand miles, and a two-month old divorce, away.
I remember Mom grabbing the phone and screaming, “What did you say? What did you say to him?” until she was crying as hard as I was.
Ten years later, he’d finally succeeded in drinking himself dead. As I stood over his coffin, I was out of tears. And regrets. I was out of everything, even breath. But I shoved a goodbye through the scar tissue. I found some words.
“Thanks for the radio, Dad.”
I have a special 150 word story for you. This one was written by a friend of mine. I had no idea he wrote at all, but apparently he stumbled on one of my stories and was inspired! Kirk Sandberg is always a man who surprises you, one way or another. Thanks Kirk!
The Cowardly Skydiver by Kirk Sandberg
At the age of 43 he made the decision to jump out of a plane.
The idea scared the shit out of him but the reward of finally feeling like a real man was worth it. So all geared up away he flew — the plane’s door open during the whole flight.
Trying hard not to gag in front of anyone he approached the door once they were above the clouds.
Don’t think you coward! Just jump! What’s the worst that could happen? Living like this is far worse than the shoot not opening, he thought.
So he jumped and fell towards the Earth at 120 mph.
He felt at peace as he fell. Frantic thoughts did not cross his mind as one might think. Just peace.
When he hit the ground and stood up tears filled his eyes.
He would never be a real man.
That ship sailed long ago.
Have you seen Bookbub’s incredibly useful slide presentation of marketing tips? Here you go.
Tip 1: Survey your audience.
Tip 2: Conduct reader surveys.
Tip 3: Create a reader persona.
Tip 4: Create a list of target keywords.
Tip 5: Create an author website.
Every author needs an online home. And every home should be shiny clean for your visitors.
Tip 6: Set up a blog on your site.
Tip 7: Link to your published books.
Tip 8: Brand your homepage with your newest release.
Tip 9: Build a mailing list on your site.
Tip 10: Welcome new subscribers with an auto-response.
Tip 11: Customize your Bookbub Author Profile.
Tip 12: Claim your social media profiles.
Tip 13: Link to your website and your Bookbub Author Profile.
Tip 14: Create a video blog.
Tip 15: Hire a cover designer.
Tip 16: Test cover variations with your audience.
Tip 17: Unify cover designs in a series.
Tip 18: Relaunch a book with a new cover.
Tip 19: Add a blurb to your cover.
Tip 20: Make book samples end on a cliffhanger.
Tip 21: Cross promote books in the back matter.
Tip 22: Include an excerpt in the back matter.
Tip 23: Link to your mailing list in your back matter.
Tip 24: Optimize your book description.
Tip 25: Include target keywords on product pages.
Tip 26: Choose relevant sub-categories on retailer sites.
Tip 27: Link different book formats together.
Tip 28: Link series books together by name.
Tip 29: Make books available for pre-order.
Tip 30: Make books available internationally.
Tip 31: Bundle the fist few books in a series.
Tip 32: Create a box set for stand-alones.
Tip 33: Include exclusive content in your box set.
Tip 34: Publish a multi-author anthology.
Tip 35: Write a killer elevator pitch.
Tip 36: Poll your audience to test marketing copy.
Tip 37: A/B test marketing copy.
Tip 38: Get blurbs from reputable authors in your genre.
Tip 39: Create images for teasers and quotes.
Tip 40: Make sure your book gets a Bookbub New Release alert.
Tip 41: Ask readers to review your book in the back matter.
Word-of-mouth is crucial for any author to succeed. If you enjoyed the book, please leave a review at Amazon. Even if it’s just a sentence or two. It would make all the difference and would be very much appreciated: Leave a review here. Thank you!
Tip 42: Provide ARCs to relevant bloggers.
Tip 43: Offer free copies to Amazon top reviewers.
Tip 44: Run book giveaways.
Tip 45: Add a free eBook sampler to retail sites.
Tip 46: Upload a pdf sample to your website.
Tip 47: Create and distribute swag.
Tip 48: Sell themed merchandise on your website.
Tip 49: Submit your book for relevant editorial reviews.
Tip 50: Submit your book as an award contender.
Tip 51: Temporarily discount a backlist book to drive sales.
Tip 52: Promote a full-priced book in the discounted book’s back matter.
Tip 53: Discount the fist book in your series.
Tip 54: Promote your eBook discount on Bookbub.
Tip 55: Create a permafree gateway book.
Tip 56: Run price promotions in foreign countries.
Tip 57: Run a price promo when you launch a new release.
Tip 58: Email your mailing list when your book launches.
Tip 59: Later, email the ones who clicked.
Tip 60: Later, email the ones who didn’t click.
Tip 61: Promote your book on relevant blogs.
Tip 62: Sign up as a HARO source.
Tip 63: Partner with other authors to run themed promotions.
Tip 64: Create a relevant video series.
Tip 65: Answer relevant questions on Quora.
Tip 66: Run a Google Adwords campaign.
Tip 67: Time your campaigns with current events.
Tip 68: Link to your newest release.
Tip 69: Write and syndicate a press release.
Tip 70: Reach out to the press.
Tip 71: Contribute guest blog posts related to your book.
Tip 72: Participate in relevant interviews.
Tip 73: Submit a post to Buzzfeed.
Tip 74: Host a release party on Facebook.
Tip 75: Run targeted social media ads.
Tip 76: Brand your Facebook cover photo.
Tip 77: Make your blog posts easy to share.
Tip 78: Make each social media post visual.
Tip 79: Post behind the scenes looks on Instagram.
Tip 80: Run a participation contest on Facebook.
Tip 81: Run a fan art contest.
Tip 82: Pin important updates.
Tip 83: Create Pinterest boards of inspiration.
Tip 84: Host a Q&A session on Twitter.
Tip 85: Launch a Facebook Group with other authors.
Tip 86: Ask questions and encourage participation.
Tip 87: Pre-schedule social media content.
Tip 88: Hold book signings at bookstores and conferences.
Tip 89: Give a talk at a relevant conference.
Tip 90: Participate on panels you’re invited to.
Tip 91: Print business cards to hand out at events.
Tip 92: Run a contest when you attend live events.
Tip 93: Partner with relevant local organizations.
Tip 94: Coordinate your marketing efforts in a single week.
Tip 95: Pitch your book as a holiday gift.
Tip 96: Donate books to people who can spread the word.
Tip 97: Measure the ROI of your campaigns.
Tip 98: Continue publishing new books.
Tip 99: Sign up for your library’s and local bookstores’ newsletters.
Tip 100: Use Square.
I love to learn. I don’t always have time to learn, mind you, but I love to learn. The huge selection of classes out there makes it both easy and tough to get started. Many options can be too many options. And who’s credible? Who has the class to give a good class? I’ve taken dozens of courses online and found Udemy to be a favorite. They have a robust community who give honest feedback so shopping via starred reviews is a dependable way to spend your hard-earned dough!
I thought it would be useful to share the three best online classes for writers that I’ve enjoyed most, and that tried the hardest to enrich my life.
If you use Scrivener (or want to) you may be overwhelmed by its features and interface. Yes, it’s a useful piece of software but it’s also hard to get around. The best advice I ever got when it comes to Scrivener is, “Take a class to learn how to use it.” I took this course and got a good sense of how the software can fit into my writing process — and how it can’t.
Sean Platt does an excellent job of showing us how he and his partners at Sterling & Stone leverage Scrivener to outline the beats of their story. Sean guides us through fleshing out the big picture, honing in on the stuff that makes the story work and then summing it up in an elevator pitch that will resonate for that chance meeting with Spielberg. This course kicked me in the butt and got me out of a writing funk last summer.
If writers block is an issue it can help to listen to someone talk about process. Simply copying someone’s routine can be inspiring. Write a Novel Outline from Scratch dives into the creative flow and it helped me crawl out of a rut. It’s a solid course that walks you through Andrew Butcher’s take on outlining. While I didn’t agree with him all the time I appreciate the depth of thought he puts into his routine. I benefited from this course.
What helpful online courses have you taken? Please let us know in the comments! I’m pining to take a course in comic book writing…
Note: These courses include affiliate links. You’ll still pay the same amount you would otherwise pay, but I get 40% of the cost if you sign up. Thanks so much for your support!
If you’re a writer and you’ve wanted to try Facebook advertising for your books, then check out this great graphic… straight from the horse’s mouth!
It’s such a concise breakdown, it makes me wonder why they can’t be this succinct with the Facebook interface. Haha. I’m laughing at my joke, which makes one of us.
But let’s break it down from a writer’s perspective:
Tie your text to your visual – I love this advice and I’d imagine you do too. Us writers love to be told to tie stuff together! The point here is that the image and the text should not be isolated. Tell a story. Flex those storyteller muscles.
Create different ads for different people – It’s a lot of work but it’s necessary. Identify your audience and then break it down further to find strata of that audience. For example, Facebook will allow you to identify people who love your genre. But you can also break them down into people who love your genre who are also parents of kids with ebook readers.
Speak to your audience – For every large swath of audience type, craft your ad for them specifically. So for the general Fantasy fan, include an image of your cover. For the Fantasy fan who loves to use her Kindle, show the cover displayed on a Kindle Fire. When you identify the audiences, don’t just write the same copy for all of them. Use words that will stand out for them. For the Fantasy loving Kindle owner, mention Fantasy, Kindles and even if the book is free for Kindle Unlimited customers. Does that make sense? If not, let me know in the comments!
Be recognizable – This is your chance to identify yourself to your potential customer. Use images that have consistency. Think about putting a logo on your images. Have a strong voice and a call to action that’s all yours. For example, my ads for the Camelot Kids usually include, “Armor up with The Camelot Kids!”
Keep it short and sweet – Want them to buy? Why should they? Want them to sign up for newsletter? Why should they?
Stick to one call-to-action – At the end of your ad building you’ll be asked to choose one call-to-action. This will give you a button inside the post that reads “Buy” or “Download” or “Sign Up”. Everything you write and every image you post should drive people to the action you want them to take.
Mention price – Specifically, mention the regular price and the current lower price ;-)
Include timeframe – My favorite is “For a limited time”.
I have only one thing to add and it will save you a lot of money. Do not rush the copy for your ad. It’s SO easy to be in the middle of crafting an ad on Facebook when, all of a sudden, a wave of excitement crashes over you. In a way, it’s similar to posting a regular post on Facebook! You can’t wait to see how people respond, right? Big mistake. Preferably, you should write the ad and choose the image even before you start crafting the ad on Facebook.
Do you use Facebook to advertise? How’s it going? If not, why not? Let us know in the comments!