Tag Archive for Indie

Pinteresting Recipe: Travel, Photos and Books

Bootlicker in good hands

Bootlicker in good hands

If 80 percent of Pinterest users are women and women buy most of the books, authors need to be on Pinterest.

Problem is, authors traffic in words and Pinterest is all about photos.

Here’s one way to create a compelling board:

When you, a friend, or a relative are headed abroad, take or send your novel. You’d be amazed at the opportunities that come up to snag a photo of your book beside a famous landmark or in the hands of a colorful local citizen.

During a recent trip to Thailand, we visited a museum where two women in gleaming gold traditional outfits were posted outside. I asked one to pose with the book and she gladly complied. Could she read it? Does it matter?

Authors these days need to make a smooth transition from creative writing to creative marketing. Send your book on a trip and capture some photos you can use to reach prospective readers on Pinterest.

You might make some international friends in the process. Oh, and here’s the actual board: Travels with Bella and Bootlicker.

 

 

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Podcast Explores Choices We Make in the Dark

Author Steve Piacente

Choices in the Dark: A Podcast

A woman nicks a car with her shopping cart. No one sees. A ninth-grader struggling with an algebra exam glances up and sees another kid’s answers. The teacher isn’t paying attention. A commanding officer witnesses a friendly fire death in the chaos of battle. There are three witnesses who will do as he says.

The choices we make in such situations say a lot about our moral compass. Truth is, there’s always someone watching.

More in my new JenningsWire Podcast: Choices in the Dark.

 

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Free Webinar: Beef Up Your Brand

Bootlicker BookmarkSo tell me about yourself.

What rattles through your head when someone utters those five little words? Do you go on auto-pilot and deliver a few well-rehearsed lines? Do you grapple with the personal you versus the professional you? Are you different online than you come across in person?

Self-published authors should become adept at personal branding before venturing into cyberspace. Social media offers tremendous opportunities, but there are best practices to observe and pitfalls to avoid. I hope you’ll join me on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 7:30 p.m. EST for a free webinar that will help you bolster your brand and strengthen your online persona.

Here’s the sign-up sheet.

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Dog of Gold Boosts Author Pinterest Page

Author Steve Piacente with Golden Retriever Merlyn

Pinterest dog lovers like “Workout Buddies.”

A little while back, I posed a question about mixing personal and professional on Pinterest.

All but one of my boards relate to my two novels, Bella and Bootlicker or to my adventures in self-publishing. The exception is “Dog of Gold.”

As I wrote in the first post, before any of our (now adult) children arrived, we got a dog. Now, I know people love to talk about their dogs. And people with dogs and kids? Settle in; you’re going to spend a lot of time listening.

I’m no exception. Merlyn was one of the special dogs, a brilliant, athletic Golden with, well, you get the idea. There are times these many years later that I still miss him. (Don’t worry, I miss the kids too now that they’ve moved away, but that’s another post).

My question was whether the doggy board was undermining my brand. I asked if it belonged in another collection, or if I should keep it with the author boards.

The unanimous response was to leave it alone. Those who offered that advice look pretty smart right now. One of the pins – a picture of Merlyn after a day at the dog beach – has already been re-pinned 25 times. Photos from my other boards are starting to get some traction as well.

Authors should be on Pinterest because women love the site, and women happen to buy the most books. Plus they apparently love dogs. Be assured that a handsome canine will turn up in my next novel.

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Make Your Bio a Story Worth Reading

Author Steve Piacente

Entice readers with a compelling bio.

“About the Author” should be fun to read, and fun to write.

Too often I see author bios that read like boring resumes. Consider the signal that sends to prospective readers who visit your website. If you’re clever enough to write a novel, you should be clever enough to turn your life story into a compelling  narrative that will get readers interested enough to check out your books.

For more specific tips, check out: http://goo.gl/i9Uz6

If you have more ideas or samples from your own “About the Author,” please share!

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Free Webinar: How to Connect with Book Bloggers

Steve Piacente, author of Bella & Bootlicker

Join me Thursday for free webinar!

In the old days, most politicians, athletes and artists knew better than to argue with people who bought ink by the barrel, meaning those who wrote for newspapers. Today the people with the megaphone – meaning those who can help or hurt you as a writer – don’t even need ink! So if you’re thinking about responding to a negative review, think again. If you give in to the impulse, you’re extending a conversation you’d rather have die a quick death.

I’ll be covering this tip and a lot more in a free webinar next Thursday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m. Sign up here: http://goo.gl/sfQ7X

(To subscribe to Steve’s Back Story blog, please click the green or orange icon on the blog homepage).

Is There Room for the Pooch?

Room for Merlyn?

Room for Merlyn?

Authors should be on Pinterest because women love the site, and women, sales figures tell us, buy the most books. Plus it’s an interesting challenge for authors, who traffic in words, to tell stories in photos.

I jumped aboard awhile back. I persuaded friends traveling abroad to take my books along and get photos in exotic places. Bang: Pinterest board.

We spent two days in a studio filming a book trailer. I shot dozens of behind-the-scenes photos. Bang: Pinterest board.

I took an author roadtrip to South Carolina, shooting dozens of photos and learning just about as many lessons. Bang: Pinterest board.

My boards relate to my novels, as I like to keep some space between family life and the writing life. There’s one exception, and I’m still not sure if I shouldn’t pull it down and put it somewhere else.

A long time ago, before any of our (now adult) children arrived, we got a dog. Now, I know people love to talk about their dogs. And people with dogs and kids? Settle in; you’re going to spend a lot of time listening.

I’m no exception. Merlyn was one of the special dogs, a brilliant, athletic Golden with, well, you get the idea. There are times these many years later that I still miss him. (Don’t worry, I miss the kids too now that they’ve moved away, but that’s another post). So I found old photos, scanned and cleaned them up a bit, and created, “Dog of Gold.”

It’s the one board that stands out from the others, in that it has nothing to do with Bella or Bootlicker. It is, however, another story from the same author.

My question: Am I undermining my brand? Does it belong in another collection, or can I keep it with the author boards?

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Paddling Hard in the Indie Ocean – 2012 Lessons Learned

Trevor Optimized

Sharing a laugh with Trevor Dennison at Scranton library.

During the wild year about to fade into history, I learned:

– The art and romance of literary speed dating;

– That “message” may be more potent as a verb than a noun;

– To understand the angles that help or hurt in photos, and to aim for the former.

I launched a second novel, a prequel to Bella titled, Bootlicker, and learned:

– Unveiling your book at a trade show in a region of the country where your story takes place makes good sense;

– Even bookstore owners have limited attention spans. That puts it on you to pitch fast and effectively, to stand out or step away.

– No one cares if you have one official launch party or half a dozen. Target different audiences and party your pages off.

I commissioned a trailer for the second book and learned:

– To turn a novel into a script, imagine pitching your story to a commuter whose train has just pulled into sight (You’ve got about 30 seconds);

– Backstage photos from the shoot make a great Pinterest board;

– Everyone’s making a trailer. Go the extra mile and make a little art.

Jeffrey Madison plots the Bootlicker storyboard.

Jeffrey Madison plots the Bootlicker storyboard.

I used my website and at least five social media sites, but learned:

– A handshake seals the bond between author and reader better than anything that currently exists in cyberspace;

– Online followers are terrific, but people you meet in person become advocates, and possibly surrogates;

– When wine appears at book clubs, questions get pointed. What would YOU do if a woman like Bella grabbed you under the table?

I did dozens of interviews and learned:

– Making assumptions, like perhaps the interviewer read your book, is a mistake;

– Back to back to back interviews are challenging, but your enthusiasm and belief in your work must come through loud and clear every time;

– Interviews and reviews are different animals. An interview should be a conversation. Don’t drag out answers and hog the time.

In analyzing nearly 70 reviews of my two novels, I learned:

– Great reviews don’t translate to great sales, at least not right away;

– A great review can send you soaring; a lousy one can send you into a funk. Resist both extremes, and never argue with a reviewer.

– If someone says she loved your book, say thanks, (insert person’s name). Then quickly ask her to please post a few lines on Goodreads and Amazon. (So easy to forget!)

With Natasha Barrett on Let's Talk Live!

With Natasha Barrett on Let’s Talk Live!

There’s more, of course. This year I experimented with tools like Viddy, Storify and Wordle. I revamped my website, adding new illustrated excerpts and a Skype book club option. I jumped on a free Vocus trial and fired out a press release that got some attention. As my first novel, Bella, was winning a couple of awards, I also hosted several webinars for the Author Learning Center. I took a road trip to South Carolina and learned the value of leaving time to follow an impulse.

The water is rough and crowded here in the Indie Ocean, but that’s the way I like it, and can’t wait for the New Year.

How about you and any lessons you learned in 2012?

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Double Back to Get the Real Scoop

Self-publishers should learn and share.

As a political reporter on the campaign trail, I often followed candidates into diners where surprised patrons would pause mid-mouthful to shake hands and exchange pleasantries.

It was the rare citizen who challenged a candidate on a substantive issue, or even revealed he was backing the competition. To get the real story, we reporters would double back after the candidate left.

Which got me wondering about the discussion that ensued after I left the Lowcountry Creative Writers Forum in Charleston, S.C. I spoke for 90 minutes or so on self-publishing, fiction techniques and how authors can use social media. It was pleasant enough with a fair amount of questions and interaction.

But I wondered whether I’d delivered any useful advice. Then came this recap by forum head Dave Schneider:

Steve shared his journey from small town sports writer straight out of college to veteran journalist confronting national politicians and how his experience as a Washington correspondent for The Post and Courier served as a seed for his latest novel Bootlicker. With the restrictions of journalistic ethics chafing against his creative instincts, he finally made the leap and embraced the broader latitudes in the universe of fiction. We discussed the evolution of the publication process from the traditional route through an agent to publishers who required compliance with a specific marketing formula. Nowadays, self-publishing is becoming a more accepted means of reaching your audience. Frustrated by the lack of progress with the old method, Steve finally published his first novel Bella through CreateSpace, which offers a broad range of services to help writers in various aspects of the process. He also emphasized another critical component of the self-publishing process: self-marketing and promotion, with a caution about the many entrepreneurs ready to provide services of questionable value for a price. Due diligence is the watchword to

Dr. Dave Schneider leads the Lowcountry writers.

remember when engaging outside help. He pointed out the value of social media as a means of gaining exposure and mentioned sites like Facebook, Goodreads. You must keep your mind open and alert for every opportunity to expose yourself and your work to as many people as possible through interaction in any way possible. Of course, it is also important to remember that your reputation is at stake, so make sure your work is as good as it can be before sending it out into the world. Thanks to Steve for such an informative and inspirational presentation! Let the creativity flow from your soul! Dave

Sharing what you learn helps develop friendships, reinforces the fundamentals, and, frankly, makes you feel good. Thanks to the Lowcountry creative writers for the chance to pass on some advice and share a warm Charleston morning.

Have any of you self-published authors had similar experiences?

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Whipping Up the Meringue

Making meringue with Lowcountry Live’s Jon Bruce.

A book promo tour has landed me in the green room of ABC4 just outside Charleston, S.C., where I’m waiting for a guest shot on Lowcountry Live.

I’m happy to be here, as are the other guests-in-waiting: an artist, a guy who sells bar crawl tours, a woman from the animal shelter toting a little dog with a big cough, and the guests who kicked off the show, a pair of chefs preparing dessert live on the set.

None of us pays much attention, either to the TV monitor or to one another. We’re focused on why we’re here. Conversation would be distracting. When it’s time for our few minutes on air, we need to be sharp and focused.

Someone notes that the chefs are whipping up a nice meringue, and I think to myself that’s what we’re all doing. Step by step, ingredient-by-ingredient, the chefs are making stiff peaks of tasty meringue and selling their restaurant. We’re mentally rehearsing the lines that will sell our art, tour, novel and cause.

I think for the millionth time about the switch authors must make from creative writing to creative marketing, how some won’t do it because they’re more comfortable behind the computer than in front of the camera.

My takeaway: the same technology that has made it possible for anyone to self-publish has flooded the marketplace with books. At the same time, people have limited discretionary leisure time and dozens of entertainment choices.

You need to be more than a good writer to catch their attention. You need to turn your 400 pages into an irresistible blurb. You need to blog, tweet and post, and you need to get out to book clubs and meet people face to face.

And though it may feel uncomfortable and unnatural, you need to put on a smile, get out of the kitchen and whip up your meringue on TV.

What other tips do you have for writers who hate promotion and marketing?

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