Laura Howard: May 2012


Flying By The Seat of Your Pants with Suzan Tisdale

Laiden's Daughter

If you're an author, chances are you've spent some time researching marketing. You've probably been working on building that coveted author platform. That's what you're supposed to do, isn't it?

Well, when I asked author Suzan Tisdale what her secret to selling nearly 20,000 copies of her book since December, she laughed and said, "I really don't know!"

Of course, I had to interview her. Authors are supposed to do all of these things to be successful. So, how much of the success factor is good planning, and how much is pure chance?

Things we talk about:
  • Her book Laiden's Daughter , and how she came to write it. I'm reading it right now, and I'll tell you she has just the right amount of action and sweet romance to keep you turning the page.
  • Authors who have inspired her: Laurin Wittig, Julie Garwood, Carmen Caine.
  • Why she decided to publish it through Amazon KDP.
  • Her marketing efforts, or lack thereof. How she played with the pricing and the effect on her sales.
  • What she plans on doing next. Findley's Lass Book 2 of Clan MacDougall series is due out in December 2012.
Now, I want to know how you feel about the hit or miss world of publishing.

What are steps you're taking to build your platform, and why do you think some authors just hit it right?


Handling Negative Reviews with Melissa Agnes

Today I'd like to share a special interview I did with a friend of mine, Melissa Agnes. Melissa is a social media crisis manager who offers specialized consultation and training services to both businesses and agencies. 

From reading her blog, I've discovered that as authors, we are susceptible to all kinds of trouble involving our online reputation, or brand. I wanted to hear what Melissa had to say in regards to dealing with negative reviews and with the internet trolls known as sockpuppets. I was thrilled with the information she shared, and her tips for handling yourself in these situations are invaluable. Take a listen and leave a comment, because this is so important and I'd love to discuss your opinions.


Summer Reading List

One of the brilliant aspects of social media is that you can interact with authors in a way you never could before. I've gotten to be friends with some writers, both published and not, and many of them I look forward to speaking with weekly or even daily.

In celebration of some of my new author friends, my friend Allie and I have decided to dub our summer reading lists My Indie Summer! We are dedicating our summers to some of the up and coming writers who are breaking the stigma laid on self-published authors for centuries now. These authors have gone through rigorous editing, formatting and design to bring truly gorgeous books to the table.

We'd like to celebrate Independent authors and their willingness to be open and generous to us as newbies in the publishing world. Whether it's offering advice or friendship, we totally appreciate them and hope to be able to do the same for others who come after us.

Allie has a lovely line up listed at her blog, be sure to check them out before we officially kick off the summer next Friday. We'll be talking about what we read on Twitter with the hashtag #myindiesummer  There are no rules. Just good reads by great authors. If you have some Indies on your TBR list, why not pick it up and chat with us?

Here's my tentative list:

Laiden's Daughter by Suzan Tisdale

Becoming by Raine Thomas

Inhale by Kendall Grey

 Hybrid by Vanessa Wester

 Twixt by Diane Reed

  Central by Raine Thomas

 The Selkie Spell by Sophie Moss

 Molly Hacker is Too Picky by Lisette Brodey

Pentecost by JF Penn

 Blood Orchids by Toby Neal

 Witch Song by Amber Argyle

Angelfall by Susan Ee

 Foretold by Raine Thomas

Allie and I are open to ideas- if you have something super special in mind leave a comment and we'll see what magic we can conjure up. And, of course we'll keep you posted with any new developments.


Rachel Thompson on #IndiesUnite4Joshua

Today I have an impromptu video chat that I'd like to share with you. While going through my usual blog circuit a few days ago, I came across a post on Rachel Thompson's blog regarding a young man by the name of Joshua who was diagnosed with Leukemia during Christmas break. 

Imagine being 21 years old with your  life in front of you- and being told you had cancer. To have just been given 3 years of freedom only to have it taken away in a breath.

The independent author community is small, but strong. Maxwell Cynn is an author, but he's also a father and a husband. His fellow authors have come together to support his family during this horrible time. As many of us know, medical expenses are incredibly high. IndiesUnite4Joshua is a fund set up to help with costs of Josh's treatments.

The goal is $10,000, and at this time $8,600+ have been raised. There are 13 days left, and they can use your support. Watch the video and hear what Rachel has to say!

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The Virtual Book Tour with Ali Luke

Book tours can get expensive, with booking venues and all the driving. Add that to the time away if you have family or a day job and it can really be a problem. 

When I saw that Ali Luke was taking her book, Lycopolis on a virtual blog tour, I thought it sounded like a great idea. It's the best of both worlds: you get people interested in reading your book and visiting your own blog, plus you can do it all from your own home.

I've been wanting to try a video interview for a while now, so I asked Ali if she'd be game, and luckily for me she agreed. Imagine getting to chat with a writer in the UK in real time-what a treat! 

If you haven't heard about Ali, she has a fantastic blog and also frequently posts on some of the top blogs in the writing industry like Problogger, Copyblogger and Write to Done.

In the interview we talk about:

  • Her book Lycopolis and writing what you know. She has a background in the roleplaying community and it inspired her to write the story of a group on online roleplayers.
  • The virtual book tour she's done throughout April and May and the benefits of touring from your home by writing guest posts and doing interviews for other bloggers.
  • Some tips on coming up with new ideas for blog posts. With the constantly changing publishing industry, she always has a long list of ideas for blog posts such as ebooks and the digital publishing world. If you haven't already, I recommend visiting her blog for excellent tips on the writing craft.
  • The many publishing options available for the independent author. Ali has Lycopolis on Amazon, and also Smashwords which distributes it to other vendors (Barnes & Noble, Kobo etc.) She also used CreateSpace for the Print on Demand version. Since she's in the UK, the shipping rates for UK customers were too high, so for those readers it's also available from Lulu.
You can find Ali at her blog, Aliventures or on Twitter.


Grow a Long Tail

Have you daydreamed recently of selling your book? Did that dream consist of you being praised by adoring fans and media over your beautiful writing and amazing imagery?

Me, too.

When we think of publishing our books, it's fun to imagine instant success. Even if you don't want to admit it, the thought has probably crossed your mind.

Of course, underneath the fairy tale, we are all aware that the chance of stardom is pretty slim. After all, how many books are published each year? Since Amazon has made it so easy for writers to upload their manuscript, it's not a secret that there is a LOT of competition.

So, we attempt to build a platform, render a following. But, if you really want to be an Author, not a one-book-wonder, what can you do to become a prolific force in the industry?

I have recently been introduced to the term "Long-Tail". Have you heard it?

In Joanna Penn's guest post by J. Daniel Sawyer,  he discusses the Long Tail of the fiction business and a  list of "best practices" to be successful over time.

For your reading pleasure, I would like to share the most important stuff I gleaned from the post:

 Build a Back List- When I read and love a book, I look up the author's other work. I just purchased the entire backlist written by Juliette Marillier. **love**

 Be Patient- One book does not a career make! **usually**

 Connect  with those who actually read your book. It's easier to keep a reader than find a new one!

I am now a firm believer that the best marketing tool you can acquire is a Long Tail. It makes sense that when you advertise or promote your newest book, people will see that you have a series of other books to enjoy. I for one love a series that I can really get lost in!

Do you have any thoughts on the significance of a Long Tail or Backlist?

 Oh, and by the way- did you notice that I've added a newsletter sign-up? Make sure you add your name!


RSS Feeds Made Simple

Is your inbox flooded with notifications of blog updates? 

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the idea of visiting all of your favorite blogs, especially when your time is limited as it is?

Do you sometimes get frustrated by the volume of your unread email- sometimes even hitting "Clear All"?

If you answered yes to either of those questions, it might be time to look into getting a blog "reader". When I mentioned RSS feeds in a post not too long ago, I got a few emails asking what I was talking about.

RSS (Real Simple Syndication), according to Wikipedia is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format

OK, so what does that really mean?

It simply means you have another option to receiving updates via email, or each and every blog on your bookmark list to check for updates.

Have you ever listened to the Weekly Top 40 on Sunday? Rick Dees doesn't work for your local radio station, but rather his show is Syndicated to play on multiple channels across the country. You don't have to go find his show, it comes to YOU.

Same with RSS feeds, but this is for the content you want to read/listen to/watch on the web.

You can get really technical, but this blog is all about keeping it simple, right?

The first thing you need is a "Reader". There are a few options here, but for the sake of keeping it simple, let's talk about the "Google Reader". If anyone is super curious, we can expand on this in the future.

When you go to a blog, instead of clicking "Subscribe via Email", look for the little orange tab pictured above. That is where you can subscribe via RSS. Once you click on it, it will send the updates to one simple place-the Reader.

When you hop online to see what's new, you go to this one place, scroll through all the recently updated titles until something grabs your attention, then either expand it inside the reader or visit the website, it's your choice.

Have you been wondering what that little orange button meant, anyway? Do you have a RSS feed for your blog? Consider getting one, and while you're at it, subscribe to my feed. :)


And the Award Goes To...

This is just a quick post, just as a thanks to my newest friends in the blog o sphere. In the past week I've received a few nominations from some fantastic bloggers-3 for Liebster awards, and one Kreativ
Blog award. What can I say, I'm flattered! It's been the usually craziness around here, so it's taken
me longer than I would've liked to make the following shout-outs:
The Liebster's were from-
Kristi - Thank you so much for sharing my blissful journey with me, it is a pleasure!
Michelle - Thank you for your kind words, it really does mean a lot that you find my blog informative.
Sharon - Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I'm so glad to have met you!

And then there is also the Kreativ from LJ - Thanks Laura Jean, from another Laura Jean :)

I'm not going to take the traditional route here, which is to nominate others for these awards. That would require me nominating twenty two bloggers, and unfortunately my time is limited. But, I want to just take a
moment and touch on the topic of community. During the past month or so, I've met and chatted with several
women that I never would have had the opportunity to meet if not for the net and social media. It's an amazing
time we're living in, and I'm so grateful to each and every one who've provided laughs and support for my blossoming career. Writer's are an amazing, eclectic bunch, but we all share the love of creating and that's all we need to form lasting bonds.


Be Helpful, Be Successful

What's in it for me?

As a species, human beings are selfish. I'm sure that's not news to you. Oh, we want to be helpful and self-sacrificing, and maybe we sometimes even succeed. But deep down, it's just our nature to look out for number one.

If you want to be involved in any type of network building, you have to break through your natural tendencies. You're writing a book. Good for you. But, why should anyone else care?

What's in it for them?

I see a large number of people, (myself included at times) who just expect to blog about themselves, and that will be their golden ticket to fame and fortune.

It will never work.

One of the greatest teachers of how to build relationships to help you grow your business is Chris Brogan. I've been following his blog for a few months now and hope to follow his example as closely as possible. He has a simple formula for success that I find inspirational:

  • Be Helpful
  • Ask Questions
  • Check-In Regularly
  • Make Useful Introductions

Is there is one thing that he advises NOT to do?

Don't ask for ANYTHING in return!

Do you ever run into people doing all the wrong things on the Web? How do you handle it?

Leave me a comment. Let's Talk.