Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Review: How to Get a Truckload of Reviews on Amazon

Who wouldn’t love a truckload of reviews? The title, How to Get a Truckload of Reviews on Amazon, immediately drew me in, and that in and of itself is a lesson on how to promote yourself as an author. The book is written by Penny Sansevieri from Author Marketing Experts, Inc. I’ve always appreciated Penny’s take on getting your name out in front of people as an author, and I like that she has the experience in dealing with authors solely as someone who helps promote them.

Reviews and Engagement Matter

Her first point is a great one. Reviews are still important. I often overlook them because they can be such a pain to get, but it’s true that reviews can help or hurt your book. I’ve especially found this as I’ve experimented with different price points and free promotions. A book that others recommend will get snapped up in a free promotion instantly, but one without reviews won’t do as well.

This encouragement should help you put “get reviews” back on your to-do list. And really, sometimes it really as easy as just asking. I know for me personally I don’t do that enough.

Reviews Versus Blog Tours

Penny offered an important distinction, that of asking bloggers for a review versus asking them to be part of your online blog tour. Sometimes we throw that option into our pitch for blog tours (“I can do a guest post, have you do a review, giveaway…”) and really we shouldn’t be so cavalier about this. If we need reviews we need to approach readers and ask for them. Penny’s book offers up several different options for pitching.

Free Listings for Bloggers

The book is very short and does contain a lot of common sense, but just as I was about to chalk it up to being just “okay” I spotted the free list of book bloggers for various genres. Brilliant. This resource alone is valuable and will help authors target the sites they need to connect with readers.

All in all, I think it’s a good book to have, especially when you’re just about to do promotion for a book and you don’t know where to begin. Penny’s advice breaks it down into manageable chunks. 


Cherie Burbach has written for, NBC/Universal,, and more. Visit her website,

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Two Platform Lessons

I've been reflecting recently on my publishing journey, particularly the marketing aspect. Much of my research suggests that you ask for endorsements, and aim pretty high. What could it hurt? I want my message to reach as many folks as possible. So I got brave and asked some pretty big names for endorsements and reviews. I also asked some  lesser known authors and reviewers. Here's what happened.

The famous, high profile authors responded to me within a few days. The answer was "Sorry, no," but I received warm congratulations and well wishes. (Apparently, when you reach a certain pinnacle of success, your name doesn't belong to you anymore, or at least that was the case for one of the authors.) The emails were from assistants. That didn't bother me at all. They responded, and wished me well. The messages might have even been automated, but it didn't seem that way.

The lesser known folks did not respond at all. Now I will concede that there could be many reasons for that, like not having an assistant. This is not a rant or criticism, but it just illustrates a point. Who do you think I'm still a huge fan of, and who do you think not so much? The response I received solidified the message of the authors who responded. The lack of response caused me to lose a little faith in the message of those that completely ignored me.  Let it be noted that everyone with whom I have a relationship, whether multi-published or not, online or in person, said Yes!.

So the lessons I've learned in this journey so far are:

1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

2. Relationship - build relationships with people who need your message and/or who can help get your message out there.  

How do you build relationships with your readers?
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Book Review: My Father's Keep, by Ed Abell

Review of My Father’s Keep by Ed Abell

Create Space, Jan 2014
ISBN: 9781494367381
Ebook 4.49
Pbook 10.16
My Father's Keep: A Journey of Forgiveness Through the Himalaya

Buy the book  - Amazon
An Inspiring Journey of Forgiveness and Promise-Keeping

At once a trek to the highest peak on Earth and the deepest place of the heart, My Father’s Keep captures the experience that all adult children share: the pain and suffering of growing up in the chaos of alcoholism and the dogged belief that they can—and must—somehow save their afflicted parents from their torment. As that child, Ed Abell vows that one day he and his father will see the Himalaya together—a vow he kept twelve years after his father’s death.

My Father’s Keep is a story of hope for healing of our most complicated family relationships through understanding, compassion, and forgiveness, peace for ourselves despite our inability to save our loved ones from the ravages of addiction, and strength for the arduous yet enriching journey.

My review:
There is so much more work involved in forgiveness than simply saying the words. 

Acceptance is a part of forgiveness that involves empathy, but to truly understand you must experience and survive the experiences that necessitates the forgiveness. Abell shares this gift of forgiveness through an incredible journey that is both a loving tribute and a triumph of a gift to memory. 

This short book packs a full trip from childhood through marriage and family to the time when the author is finally ready to attempt a journey of laying his father's ashes to rest in a "place the Sirens could not win." A huge part of forgiveness also involves recognizing and savoring the good times with the bad of a lifetime of abuse--in this case, alcoholism--which colored the author's world. Although offering understanding, love, and forgiveness to his father while still alive, Abell never gave up believing he could put his father's ghosts to rest. This book is that journey.  

I applaud the author's beautiful, intelligent story of vulnerability and sacrifice. My Father's Keep is part memoir, part tribute, part caution to those of us who struggle to escape the effects of addiction. Abell says it well: love is action.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

C. Hope Clark, "Secondary Characters Have a Primary Role"

My favorite characters are the secondary ones, often considered the sidekicks. When I wrote the first chapter in my first mystery, my focus honed in on the good guy and the bad guy. Everyone else was dispensable, flexible, even optional, but wow, over the years I’ve come to my senses. Secondary characters make a book. Without them, all you have is the good guy and the bad guy, and gracious, how bland is that?

Imagine the family on Christmas Day, all gathered around the tree, or maybe the dinner table. The patriarch is evident, as is the matriarch. The clown and the wallflower. The good seed, and the bad. Young, old, single, married, recently divorced. Tall, short, obese and painfully thin. The well-dressed, the tacky, and the blah. Don’t forget the dog under the table and the baby feeding him.

Who is the main character?

Frankly, any one could be the protagonist. Anyone could be the antagonist. So what does that make the other characters? Secondary.

Let’s make the matriarch the main character in this emotionally intense setting. She’s responsible for the feast, and keeping order in the kitchen, decorating the table, and attempting to preserve peace amongst the family members. She has a secret. One of the others knows the secret. All she wants is to get through this day without the secret getting out.

Imagine how boring this story would be if there were no secondary characters. No matter how big and profound, intelligent and logical, or even tender and empathetic you make the matriarch, she’s nothing without the actions of the secondary players around her. And the more extreme you make these players, the more you develop her. Why? Because she’s nothing in a room by herself, or worse, in a room full of faceless, emotionless people.

Ideas on making the most of your secondary characters:

  1. Give them characteristics your protagonist/antagonist doesn’t have.
  2. Make them throw a monkey wrench into a scene.
  3. Give them behavioral quirks.
  4. Make them interfere into your protagonist’s/antagonist’s business.
  5. Paint them colorful, even over the top.
  6. Make them the conduit between important parts of the story.
  7. Insert them to screw up when the protagonist/antagonist thinks she’s gaining ground.
  8. Endow them with talents the protagonist/antagonist needs.
  9. Let them provide comic relief.
  10. Allow them to be politically incorrect (something your protagonist can’t often do).
  11. Make their actions or inactions serve to underline your protagonist’s/antagonist’s choices.
  12. Have their personality clash with your main character, pushing your main character to raise his performance.
  13. Use them to tap a main character’s conscience.
  14. Let them emphasize the main character’s problems instead of the main player having to shout about it.

Your protagonist and antagonist feed off the secondaries. You have less conflict and less emotion when the story is totally in the hands of your two main characters, instead of strewn across the backs of an assortment of others, giving the reader a more complicated tale. In essence, secondaries make the story louder, deeper, funnier, more intense, more layered and exciting. They’re a great tool to help you mold your plot, and embellish your main players.

Some argue that the secondary players cannot have characteristics that outshine the protagonist. That’s true, assuming you’re giving the secondary equal stage time. There’s nothing wrong with your secondary being eccentric, brilliant, or flashy as long as he’s not appearing so much he detracts. You want such flavor in your writing, but like in a good Italian dish, the garlic cannot overpower the taste. But stop and imagine such a dish without it.

BIO: C. Hope Clark's newest mystery release is Murderon Edisto, the first in The Edisto Island Mysteries. She is also known for the award-winning Carolina Slade Mysteries, and for her work as editor of, chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 14 years. /

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Authors: How to Get a Platform Like a Reality Star

Isn’t it wild how some celebs or reality stars get book deals? It drives some authors crazy, but from a publishing perspective it seems like a smart move because of the platform these celebs have. But fear not, authors! You can get yo’self a platform like that, too, or at the very least, build yours to a respectable level based on some of the things they do.

You Don’t Have a Reality Show, and That’s a Good Thing

Some of you might be saying, “But I don’t have a reality show! I won’t get the audience those people have!”

Be glad you don’t have a reality show because then you can control some of the things fans see about your life. Even if you’re the world’s coolest author, you’d get so much media attention with a reality show that you’d have an overexposure problem, something no author I know is going to be comfortable with. (We tend to be a little bit introverted and geeky.)

But here are some things you can do just like a reality show star would:

Share Pieces of Your Life

One reason reality shows have caught on is that we’re a nosey bunch. We love seeing how other people live. This is true even of the celebs we don’t get or understand. (Kardashians, we’re talking to you!) We watch their shows to find out how they interact and what they’re daily lives are like.

You can do this with your blog. Post pictures and videos that show off unique parts of your personality. You don’t have to reveal things you’re uncomfortable with, just the stuff that helps readers get to know you a little better. Do you like to bake? Watch TV? Are you a travel lover? These are all pursuits I’ve seen authors display successfully on their blog.

Use Twitter and Instagram

Reality stars love Twitter because they can tweet a jillion times a day (or once), they share opinions (or random, silly thoughts), they give shoutouts and share pictures.

What’s not to love? The best part about Twitter is that it allows fans to interact with you directly.

Instagram is another reality show fave, because they can post pictures without going into detail or taking the time to write a blog post. And we’re a visual society and we love our pictures. Besides that, photos give us a glimpse into their personalities in a completely different way.

As authors, we can post things that help show our readers what our world is like. You’d be surprised at how many notes and comments I get from the food pictures I post or doggie pictures I share.

They Promote Their Products But It’s Secondary to Everything Else

We see Kim Kardashian on a photo shoot, or one of the Real Housewives going to a book signing. But this is in the course of their everyday lives, so this level of promotion doesn’t feel as in our face as when they’re just on social media doing nothing but talking about their books and products.
I know a lot of authors that use social media to promote their stuff only. They don’t use it to be social, and as a result they fail and turn readers off. Either embrace social media fully or not at all.

Know Who You Are

The most successful reality stars know exactly who they are and don’t try to be anything but themselves. (And the ones that do try to be something other than genuine get hammered by viewers.) People are smart and can see through a front, so always be true to who you are. The right people will be attracted to you and come to your site to find out more about you.

Cherie Burbach has written for, NBC/Universal,, and more. Visit her website,

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Book Review: March With Me by Rosalie Turner

“March With Me” transported me back in time where I felt I was in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

Author Rosalie Turner crafted two brilliant characters. Telling the story through the eyes of Martha Ann (a white girl) and Letitia (a black girl) makes the story so real you feel as if you are personally experiencing the Civil Rights movement. The two girls meet briefly at Martha Ann's sweet sixteen party where Letitia grudgingly helps her mom who is employed by Martha Ann's mother.

The telling of the electricity reverberating throughout the black community when Dr. Martin Luther King and Reverend Ralph David Abernathy visit and speak gave me goose bumps.

We see the fear of the black grown-ups as the Civil Rights movement grew. They were realistic and wanted no part of the protests or marches. They understood the whites would retaliate. We see them also working hard to watch over keep their children as they keep them in their neighborhood. They want them safe, and safety requires isolation from the whites.

The local radio disc jockeys, their use of the code words like picnic and party, as well as message songs, enlightened my understanding of how the movement's communication with the black youth.

We encounter the Commissioner of Public Safety for the city of Birmingham, Bull Connor and the Birmingham Police and their use of fire hoses on Letitia and her older brother Sam. We experience Sam's arrest. He spends 12 days in jail.

The importance and influence of church and faith in the black community rings throughout the story. I obtained an amazing look at what it was like to grow up as a middle-class black family in the 1960s.

The tragedy of the 16th Street Baptist Church being bombed and four innocent young black girls dying drives home the ignorance, anger, rage, and misunderstanding as well as stupid actions of some during this pivotal time in US History.

Other events from the Civil Rights era fill the pages as we read of the march from Selma to Montgomery, the signing of the Civil Rights Act, the assassination of Dr. King and the disproportional number of black men fighting in Vietnam.

Ironically, Martha Ann and Letitia become teachers. Martha Ann gets her education at the University of Alabama. Letitia takes her training locally at Miles College. Both end up teaching in the same high school.

Rosaline Turner is one of the best storytellers writing. This book is must reading. Do yourself a favor and order it online now. It should be incorporated in the curriculum of public and private schools and used as a tool to teach about those historic days of fifty years ago.

On July 7, 2014 "March With Me" received the 2013 IndieFab Award as Winner for Best Historical Fiction Book.
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Monday, October 6, 2014

One Great Way To Write A Book Review

Nearly twenty-five years ago I read Louis L’Amour’s book, “Education of a Wandering Man”. L’Amour kept a journal recording the books he read year by year. About the same time, I attended a writer’s conference in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Christian author Calvin Miller was the featured speaker. He also mentioned keeping track of what you read. He suggested writing a one-page summary and your thoughts about the book. I thought L’Amour and Miller’s ideas were good. I added a twist of my own. Instead of just a summary, I wrote a brief book review.
In the late 1980s, a magazine editor approached me about writing book reviews. At the time, I was associate pastor and Christian school principal at First Baptist Church in Jasper, Texas. I edited our church newsletter. In addition to writing a weekly column, I wrote and included reviews of Christian books. The book review became a popular feature. It significantly increased sales of the reviewed book at our local Christian bookstore. The magazine editor received my church newsletter and read my reviews. He asked me to write reviews for his publication. I started receiving review copies of books in the mail. Free books! For a reader like me it was wonderful.
In 2005, I started posting my reviews on-line on Yahoo 360. In 2007, I started Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews. Since then I have read and reviewed 155 military history or military historical fiction books, about 22 per year. The website was name a "100 Best Book Blogs for History Buffs” by in 2009. I receive 25 requests a month to read and review books. I accept very few of the requests.
What do I get out of it? First, I get the satisfaction of reading the book. I love reading and history. This is a great way to read new material and get review copies of the books.

Second, I share my love for history in general and military history specifically.

Third, I try to be a good finder in what I read. I will read the entire book. Sometimes it is a struggle, but I look for the good.  I do not say it is wonderful if it is tough to read, but I do not read looking for the bad.  I am blessed getting to review the books. A few times, I will not post a review, instead of giving a one-star review. Most authors prefer no review to a bad review.
In recent days, the newspapers and Internet have had negative articles about some book reviews. Regarding any review, I have written on Kepler’s Military History Book Reviews; I received no payment. The only compensation was the book that I read. The publisher, author, publicists, or media groups sent it to me or I purchased it.
One great way to write a book review... 

Read the book. I know; it seems obvious, but read the book! You might find out the author did a very good job. He or she probably invested one to four years of their life in the book project, so read the book.  Do not even think about writing a review of something you only skimmed or only partially read. Reading the book is critical to a good review.

Know what you are reading. If you don’t understand the book or subject area you are going to write about, you cannot write a good review. If you are reading a nonfiction book on a topic you know little about, make some effort to learn something about the topic. I write military history book reviews.  I have a formal background in history with a bachelor’s degree in the subject. My emphasis was in military history. I am widely read in history with a general background in all areas of English History and United States history. I am a serious student of US Military History.
Make notes about what you read. You may want to make note of key phrase or sentences as you meet them. You can quote them in the review. As you read, ask yourself:

Who is telling the story? Is it in first person or third person?

What is the book’s genre? Narrative history, historical fiction, memoir?

What about the style of writing? Is the author a good storyteller? Is it serious scholarship with footnote after footnote? Is the style conversational or is it full of big words that need a dictionary at your side? Does it paint a word picture in your mind? When was it written? Was there a ghostwriter or co-author?

Does the book touch your heart and mind? Does it move you to an emotional or volitional climax about the topic?
Keep track of the story-line or chronology of the book. It will help you when reading long, complicated works.
Know the author and his or her works. When you finished gathering the information, and you have enough notes, then you are ready to write the article.
Start with an introduction. The way you start will depend on your target audience. Consider beginning with a paragraph that describes your first impression of the work, or an interesting story that you had experienced through the book, or a more technical introduction where you briefly state the author, title, publisher, and any other information about the book you see pertinently.  I like to ask a thought-provoking question. An example is “Have you ever wondered what it would be like being a marine in Iraq?” It gets the reader thinking. Give a brief history of the author with some relevant information such as earlier works and awards.

Cover the structure of the book without giving away the plot or ending.

Explain your opinion of the book and give a summary of the review.

Finish by recommending the book. State who would benefit and enjoy the book, using general terms (students, veterans, seniors).

I like to tell the reader where and how they can get the book.
Include your full name in the end with the date of the review. On my book review site, I allow feedback. I have had a few authors contact and challenge me. I have had some authors point out grammar or spelling errors I have made in the review.
An example of the most frequent comment is in the words of David Laskin of the University of Washington. He wrote, “The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War”. He thanked me for reading the book. He said from my review he had no doubt I had read the book. By the way, the book was amazing.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

The Mockingbird Next Door

The Mockingbird Next Door

Generations of readers love Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. The movie is one of my all time favorites. I loved Scout in the ham costume, because I was a grape in a play in the fourth grade in Pineland, Texas. I felt connected with Scout for the kind of fun, kind of humiliating thrill of it. I didn't get assaulted on the way home that night like Scout and Jem, but I did fall during my little dance. I ruined my green hose and got a splinter in my knee from the wooden gym floor.

I love the movie because like Jem and Scout, I played all over town in Pineland with no fear of any danger. I'd take off on my bike and be told "Be home before dark." Oh to be skipping among trees as the sun goes down, the wind in my pixie hair, the cool dirt under my bare feet. Of course, those days are gone.

A new book released in July called The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee. Marja Mills, a  former reporter and feature writer for the Chicago Tribune, headed out for Monroeville, Alabama, like so many before her, hoping to get a story, any story, about Harper Lee. Miss Lee chose to separate herself from the notoriety garnered by her Pulizer Prize winning novel in the sixties. To Marja Mills' great astonishment, she was taken into the confidence, friendship, and inner circle of Harper (Nelle) Lee and her sister, Alice. It seems the sisters were ready to set the record straight. They felt that many lies had been told. Nelle particularly had a disdain for journalists, who just made things up when they couldn't get at the truth. Imagine that.

The journalist ended up renting a house right next door to the Lees. Over the course of about two years, Miss Mills learned much about the Lee family, and about Monroeville, the setting called Maycomb where the novel takes place.

I found it very satisfying to hear why Nelle chose to distance herself from the public, what she really thought of Truman Capote, Gregory Peck, and the different movie versions that have been released over the years. I hoped, and thought surely there'd be more about her relationship with Mary Badham (Scout), but maybe there wasn't one. Especially since Scout is on the cover. Regardless, the book was a joy and a delight.

The heartbreaker is that I had to go Google after I read the last page. I wanted to know if Alice still lived, and to see how the book is doing. Unfortunately, it seems that Harper Lee released a statement that she never authorized Marja Mills to write a book about her. Alice has released a counter statement saying that her sister suffered a stroke in 2007,  "can't see and can't hear" and would never have said such a thing. It hurt my heart for everyone involved. Still, I highly recommend the book. I'm glad I read it. The experience with the Lee sisters as outlined by Marja Mills is almost idyllic. I want to be friends with Nelle, Alice, Julia, Tom, and all the others in Nelle's circle of friends. Still, so hard not to feel sad for the author of one of the most important and well-loved American novels.

How much did you love To Kill a Mockingbird? What novel influenced you the most growing up?

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Indie Warrior shares best tips for self-publishing

The Indie Warrior: Tips from the Battlefield
by Nicolette Pierce

Navigating the publishing world can feel as though you’re tromping through a battlefield, shrapnel blasting you with every step. It can seem overwhelming. We globally compete for rank, sales, ratings, fans, and so much more. The difference between self and traditional publishing is not that vast. Having said that, I would not switch to traditional unless I was offered a king’s ransom. I love self-publishing! And here’s why: I control everything. From the book cover to the final manuscript, I am the supreme ruler. Enough said? Not quite.

I’ve had the opportunity to speak with dozens of traditionally published authors that unfortunately do not have control and are left dissatisfied. That is not to say that all authors are dissatisfied. Please do not spear me yet. But, one poor soul comes to mind. The unfortunate fellow is not allowed to release his sequel because the publisher wants more sales on the first book. Does that sound right? To a company looking at profits, yes. To me, it’s insane! Yes, I said insane, and I’ll tell you why henceforth. So, strap on your Viking helmet (not football . . . the real ones with horns), roar your fiercest battle cry, and charge into the book war with me as we go over a few tips that can give your novel the edge it needs to be victorious. And, best of all, on your terms.

  • The first should be obvious, but here it is anyway: Write a great book . . . and then have it picked apart by peers. Sure, let your friends and family read it, but they might not have the insight you need. Plus, they tend not to be completely honest if your work is horrible. Find a solid writers’ group. They’ll tell you what can be improved. Consider their suggestions, but also be true to your writing. You are king after all.
  • Edit! Edit! Edit! And then have a professional editor take over. There are hundreds to choose from, so be smart about it. Make sure the editor’s rates are reasonable. A standard pricing structure on the Editorial Freelancers Association website is available to verify. Also, send a few editors a page of your novel to work on. If they won’t do a free sample page, STOP! Find a different editor.
  • Invest in an awesome book cover. Notice how I didn’t say “create”? If it’s not eye catching and professional, you might as well delete that manuscript right now. Covers sell books! If you’re not familiar with the design world or are afraid to take a chance on a designer, do what I did and use a website like Dozens of freelancers will submit designs based on your criteria. Pick the winning cover and hang on to that designer for future novels.
  • There are several ways to publish your e-book. My distributor, or “aggregator,” of choice is Smashwords but look around and find one that works best for you. Never, and I repeat, NEVER give them money. If you find one that is requesting money upfront, retreat as fast as you can! A good distributor will only take a small percentage of your royalties per book sold.  
I’m not going to lie. I did develop a mighty headache when I released my first book. Whatever distributor you choose, they should have a step by step manual. Read it and follow it. You’ll be a pro by your second novel.

Second novel? Yes. And third and fourth . . . and twenty-ninth. Success can be largely based on how many engaging books you produce. A single book might sell for a brief period, but it will eventually get lost in the battlefield. Even famous authors have to keep writing if they want to stay profitable. Keep at it, keep writing. Your fans will follow you. New fans who read your tenth novel will be interested in your prior work. It’s a cycle. One book doesn’t create a cycle. It stagnates.
  • Don’t print. Stick with e-book format for the first year or two. Did several people just faint? Okay, before you mutiny, let me explain. For the first year of my self-publishing career, I was carving a path, smoothing the kinks out, and keeping my overhead costs down. So, when I finally did print, I found that it wasn’t worth it. I don’t make money off print. My profit is solely on e-copies, and it’s so much easier dealing with e-books than clunky paper ones. I now have a cabinet filled with fifty or so books, which means another spot to dust. I hate dusting. So, if you HAVE to have that print copy, then go through a print-on-demand company like CreateSpace. Buy a dozen and see what happens. You can always buy more if you find they’re selling.
  • Plaster yourself on the web. If you’re doing it right, you should have several hits when you search your name. Create a website. Join Facebook and Twitter. Start a blog or newsletter. Get visible! Link your website and social media sites in your e-book for fans to find you quickly. You only have a small window of opportunity to grab their attention before they’re on to the next author’s book.
  • You are an author, but you are also a business owner. Treat your work as an enterprise and keep realistic expectations in mind. It was only after three years of writing that I was finally able to quit my accounting job. Overnight successes are, more often than not, false. It takes famous writers years of hard work to get to their pillared ranks. If you’re looking for overnight success, you might want to pick up a lottery ticket as well. The odds are nearly the same.
  • Free! This is my best war strategy advice. I began with one series and gave the first book away for free then released the second book the next day. It created a buying surge with frantic requests for more. Readers snatched up the free book whether or not it was in their genre. It gave them a risk-free opportunity to see if they liked my writing. I still give that book away for free and hope that if the reader likes the first book they’ll continue the ever growing series. Not everyone does, and that’s okay. The ones that do stick with me. They’ve turned into my super fans.
  • Reward your fans. Every year I come out with a useful promotional giveaway, something that fans can use or see daily. The first was refrigerator magnets with my book cover; the second was a compact mirror with a message and my website address. There’s always a gouge in my bottom line when I do this, but I’m trying to establish more than just profits. I’m keeping my name where my fans can see it and remember it. Just try not to break the bank while doing it.
In today’s world where there are millions of books being produced every year, it’s imperative to form a bond with your fans. I have, in places I never thought possible. Somewhere in Botswana there is a woman who has read all of my books, has my magnet on her refrigerator, and my compact in her purse. It’s pretty dang awesome.

Did you ever sing “Anything you can do, I can do better”? It’s time to start singing again. Dive into the battle with your shield held strong and your sword honed and ready. Ask authors for their success and failure stories. You’ll learn a lot. Whatever path you choose, make it the best for YOU.

Nicolette Pierce is a member of WWA and prolific author of the romantic suspense Nadia Wolf and Mars Cannon series, as well as the spin-off character novels that accompany the series. Nicolette lives in Wisconsin with her husband, son, and Herbert the cat. She’s part of the Moraine Writers Guild. Her books are available at online retailers. Visit her website,, for more information and direct links to her books. 

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Authors: How to Get it Right On Social Media

Social media has become essential today for writers to build a platform and connect with readers. But are you getting the most out of it and more importantly, working it correctly so your readers benefit?

Be a Person First

Remember the first word in social media: social! Always be a person first and a marketer last. In between “first” and “last” are all the things that tell readers about who you are. In other words, don’t start off by sharing links about your books. Start off by connecting with readers and getting in on the conversation.

Some of the writers who do social really well have large followings because readers enjoy their personalities. They interact with authors and then (and only then) look for their books. This is the right way to do social, because it allows people to discover and buy your books in their own time.

Follow Some of the Folks Doing It Right

You can learn a lot about how authors are using social by how some of them are using it. Here’s some of my faves.

On Twitter:

On Facebook:

On Instagram:

I’m finally on Instagram and fairly new at it, but so far... I love it. It's a completely different way to connect with people. I've heard these writers do Instagram right: 

On Pinterest:

Get Creative

One of the coolest things I saw was how Philippa Gregory actually tweeted out the entire thoughts of her character Elizabeth Woodville for her historical fiction novel The White Queen. Gregory took her perspective from the book and boiled it down into individual 140 character tweets for the whole novel.

Then, after the book launched, she put all the tweets in an application that you can read again and again.

Hang Out Where Your Readers Are Hanging Out

One reason Jennifer Weiner has such a successful Twitter following is that she live tweets during her favorite TV shows like The Bachelor. Why? Because that’s where her fans are! (Plus, she really likes the show.) She also answers her fans there and comments on celebrity gossip and things going on in her household. This works for her and her genre.

Know what she doesn’t do? Send out endless links about her books!

Share Some Parts of Your Life

You don’t have to get all TMI on the world, but go ahead and share some things about yourself that people might find interesting. For example, I look forward to the multiple pictures of baked goods on Facebook that author Janice Hanna Thompson creates. I love seeing the things she’s working on, and how she balances it with writing.

Be Genuine

We’ve all seen authors who feel obligated to do Twitter or Facebook because someone (their agent, publisher, or another author) told them they need to be on it. As a result, their efforts seem forced and inauthentic.

Never go into social with half the effort because you’ll be wasting your time and turning off readers. The best thing you can do is to embrace social (at least one platform), get comfortable in it, be yourself, own it, and enjoy it. If you don’t, skip it and find another way.


Cherie Burbach has written for, NBC/Universal,, and more. Visit her website,
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