6 Book Marketing Tips


I missed Week Two of the Authors Blog Challenge, but as part of the third week, I’m here to give out some book marketing tips to help budding writers and authors on their way.

First, before I get started, let me say that none of these are set in stone or foolproof. However, I’ve learned some of these by experience and others from those who have experience. I’m still a little new to the author world myself, but before long, if you immerse yourself in “author culture” (and yes, that is absolutely a real thing), I think you’ll find these things are generally true.

Tip #1: Get a great book cover.

People will absolutely judge your book by its cover. Why? Because it’s their first impression of your work. Just like you buy cereal at the grocery store based on the box, people will buy your book based on the cover. I know because I’m guilty of one-clicking books solely due to the cover art as well. Make sure it accurately represents the key components of your story, such as the looks of the characters, the mood, and any key elements, such as weather, a weapon, etc. Having a professional cover designer create the wrap for your masterpiece is absolutely crucial. Selling a badly covered book is going to be nearly impossible.

Tip #2: Connect with other authors.

Your biggest source of support and knowledge is going to be your peers in the writing industry. Authors will often team up by putting their books together in bundles for giveaways. They’ll also share each other’s work because they know how hard it is to be seen and believe the success of each author counts toward the whole. Other authors will also share critical articles and tips you can use to improve your writing and marketing strategy.

Tip #3: Connect with book bloggers.

Even with the turmoil that has besieged indie authors courtesy of Amazon lately, blogger book reviews are still a wonderful way to get noticed and get feedback on your work. Purchasing or organizing a blog tour will get you new followers and put your name in front of a crowd of readers just dying for that next great read. Going on tour may or may not boost your sales, but every chance you have to get out there in the public eye is a chance to show your talent and build your fan base.

Tip #4: Find your audience.

Romance or erotica author? Facebook has thousands of readers looking for your next steamy teaser. Young adult author? Instagram is where the teens are hanging out these days, and they’ll absolutely love your “bookstagrams.” Mystery, thriller, or horror author? Look for blogs that list your genre as one of their favorites and compile a list. No matter what you write, there’s an audience out there somewhere with your name on it. You just need to find it and immerse yourself in it.

Tip #5: Finish your series before you publish Book 1.

This is something I’m currently learning the hard way. People don’t want to buy book one of a series–especially if it contains a cliffhanger–without knowing the next two or more books are right around the corner. It’s painful to wait months on end for a continuation of a series. Think about how your readers will feel at the end of your first book. Will everything be wrapped up neatly in a standalone? Or will they be pumped with adrenaline, dying to see what happens next? If it’s the latter, definitely wait to publish until the series is complete. Then you can release your books in quick succession so you can feed the readers’ hunger and keep them interested in your work.

Tip #6: If you’re still writing your book, tailor your content to your intended audience.

For example, romance readers love alpha males, HEAs, and series of standalones. If you’re aiming to please the romance crowd, you might also want to consider keeping your characters faithful to each other (a.k.a. no cheating). Tell the readers in the book description what they can expect so they won’t have to be afraid of buying it. People will be more willing to invest their money if they’re sure they won’t be disappointed.

If you’re writing for young adults and teens, pick names that sound trendy and/or unique. Teens love books with main characters that have fresh, original names and plenty of flaws to endear them to the reader.

Hope this blog post was informative and helpful to you! Stop by this blog next week to hear about Character Inspiration.

Haley Allison Twitter Banner 2

 

 

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5 Areas Where Authors Need To Think Like a Reader


One thing I have learned over the past few months as I was working on my debut novel is that there are times when a writer has to get out of their own head. If you plan to publish/sell your book, you’re going to want to produce a product that’s going to appeal to more than just you. In an ideal world, each and every one of us would have a million people out there just like us who love our writing style (actually, let’s be honest, that would be one crazy-ass, over-populated planet), but in this world, readers want to read something that appeals to them, not just you.

There are several areas in which you’ll have to pull a Facebook…you know, where you view your “timeline” or “profile” as another person (in this case your plot or novel). Here are some areas where authors need to think like a reader.

#1: Backstory and plot development.

Readers don’t know the tragic backstory behind your twisted villain unless you tell them about it. When writing a book, you really need to spell out every last detail of the backstory and the plot. The challenge is to do that without clunky backstory dumps, rambling, and detracting from the main story. There are several techniques that help with this, such as revealing backstory through dialogue, working it in as you go along, etc. My techniques of choice for the shameless backstory dumps I included in my upcoming novel were blog posts written by the MC and a documentary about her rock star father, but of course that won’t work for everyone.

#2: Reader expectations.

There are certain genres in which a certain outcome is absolutely expected. Romance is the biggest one that comes to mind. In a romance novel, you almost always want the MCs to end up together. Romance novel readers are going to need Prozac at the end if they don’t get the all-important HEA. Some other genres are more flexible with their expectations, but you’re always going to want the book to feel like a ______ book (sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, thriller, etc.). This is one area where I took a bit of a risk in my debut novel because I did not pattern it after any book I’d ever read, ever. Because of that, it reads differently from your typical YA fiction book. Some people love my style and some people don’t, I’m finding, which is a-okay. You can’t please everyone. But in most cases, you’re going to want to know your demographic’s expectations and deliver on them, otherwise you’re going to end up with a pissed off demographic.

#3: The Three-Act Structure.

I scoffed the first time someone told me I needed to follow a three-act structure while writing a novel. I thought that was only for plays and movie screenplays, but it turns out it does help to build just the right amount of tension in your storyline. It also feels more natural to readers, who will be expecting this layout even if they don’t even know they’re expecting it. Try dividing your chapters or word count into three equal thirds, and see if your story fits into three distinct, separate, recognizable acts. If not, you may want to re-evaluate your novel planning method. It works for plays, it works for screenplays, and it might just work for your book.

#4: Character development.

This one is a big one. If you want readers to make it all the way through your book and be screaming your name from the rooftops at the end (followed by five-star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads, of course), you need to write about characters that they can connect with. Give your characters quirks and flaws that will endear them to the readers, and make sure you always expose their good and bad sides. No one wants to read about one (or even two) dimensional characters. They always need to be 3-D and larger than life.

#5: Marketing.

Heh…yeah…this was another one of those “learn by experience” areas for me. Don’t shout your book anywhere and everywhere. It’s not effective, and it just comes off as annoying. No one is going to buy your book and read it if you’re in their face 24 hours a day screaming, “Buy my book! Buy it! Buy it!” Give your desired readers another incentive to buy and read your book. Run a contest with a giveaway, include it in a box set with other books, show excerpts, post teaser trailers…but for the love of God, don’t blast it on Twitter every five minutes. You’ll get un-followed by everyone you know and love in a hot second.

I’m sure there are more areas than just the ones I’ve listed, and if you have anything to add, please comment below 🙂 More information about the DORK release and blog tour(s) to come!

Thanks for reading!

H.D.

How to Write a Novel in 6 Steps


Since finishing my first book, I’ve had a few people ask me how I did it and if I wouldn’t mind sharing some helpful advice. My process was derived from other people’s processes, to be honest, and regrettably I can’t remember where I got every little tidbit of info. What I’m going to do is just give a little step-by-step walk-through of how I personally write my novels, and if I remember where I got a certain piece of advice, I’ll link it here.

So here it goes:

Step 1: Daydream.

This is how I got into writing in the first place. I still do this to this day: I lay in my bed before going to sleep or waking up in the morning and dream with my eyes open. Imagining characters, situations, storylines, romances… Brainstorming is great, but daydreaming and getting to know your characters is how you’re really going to come up with a great storyline. It has to have a personal, real, invested element, because if you manufacture a novel out of thin air, everyone is going to notice.

Step 2: Storyline.

Yes, I use this word a lot. Before I sit down and type “Chapter 1,” I write a “storyline,” which is basically like a summary of everything that’s going to happen in the book.

For example, here is the storyline of my short story that I posted here a few days ago:

“Cass resists her abusive boyfriend, and he comes back at her with force and cutting remarks. Cass keeps her resolve, though, and breaks away from him. He tells her she needs him, but she insists that she doesn’t need a man, and she takes her things and runs out before he can grab her again. Cass hurries down to the pay phone where she calls her estranged friend Rachel, who graciously allows her to stay for a while.”

From that short, to-the-point, easy-to-write summary, I derive points for an outline–which, naturally, is the next step.

Step 3: Outline.

Some people will tell you this step is not important, but that has not been my experience. Whenever I start a story without an outline, I always end up lost at about 10K words. You need to start your journey with a road map, or you’re going to have a very difficult time reaching your destination.

Each main point should be a one-sentence (or few words) summary of the events of that chapter, and then below it you can add subpoints with specific events. You don’t have to go into great detail with this, but it’s good to update it as you go along if you change something, just to keep the arc of the story cohesive. I don’t claim to be perfect with this, but when I don’t do it, it shows up in my writing and my frustration level. So yeah, IMHO, just do the outline. It will save you a headache in the long run.

Step 4: Rough Draft.

BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF with this. Rough drafts are called “rough” for a reason, and it’s more than okay for a rough draft to be imperfect or incomplete at the end. No one is going to write a perfect novel on the first try. I probably tried 20 times before I finally got all the way through DORK for the first time, let alone the 15 million rewrites since then (massive exaggeration… but still).

There will be times in a rough draft where there’s a scene you don’t want to write. For those, I used a tip from Veronica Roth’s blog: http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/2011/11/some-nano-advice-dont-look-back.html

Tip #3 suggests inserting brackets with a scene description if you don’t want to write the scene, which was a LIFESAVER for me. Don’t stop once you’re on a roll. If you want to skip a scene, write it in brackets and keep going. No one’s going to arrest you for it.

Step 5: REWRITE. A LOT.

A true author will rewrite their novel as many times as it takes, even if their fingers fall off and their eyes dry up and fall out of their sockets. YOU MUST REWRITE. And rewrite again. And continue to rewrite until you have achieved absolute perfection (or as close as you can get).

Step 6: Edit.

Yes, even if you plan to hire an editor, you should do at least a little bit of your own editing first. Pick and choose which scenes help the story and which scenes hinder it. Lay down the manuscript for a week and pick it up again, reading over it as if you were reading it for the first time. What makes sense with the story and what doesn’t make the cut? Does this character or that character need further development? Is this storyline compelling enough or is there an element that would add to the suspense and keep your readers interested?

***

After you’ve dreamed up, storylined, outlined, drafted, re-drafted, and edited your manuscript, then it’s ready to be looked at by a professional. I wish I had sought professional help, but regrettably I didn’t. I highly recommend professional editing services or at least getting someone who knows what they’re doing to critique your work, ’cause nothing sucks worse than releasing a novel that’s not really ready yet. I know this from experience, as explained in my last post. DON’T JUMP THE GUN. Seek the help you need when you’re done with this writing process.

Hope that helps! Tell me about your process or your thoughts on this post below! 🙂

-H.D.

P.S.-Here are updated links to my 5-star rated novel, Diary of a Rocker’s Kid, for anyone who’s interested!

Kindle Edition ($2.99 or free with Kindle Unlimited): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B012KXYCLC

Amazon Paperback (free Prime shipping): http://www.amazon.com/Diary-Rockers-Kid-D-O-R-K-1/dp/1515297896/

CreateSpace Paperback: https://www.createspace.com/5617338