Thursday, December 31, 2015

Teaching Authors to Violate Amazon’s Review Guidelines?

I sounded an alarm about the need for studying Amazon’s guidelines in my book, Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers. But, for the sake of all honest writers, it seems a louder warning is due concerning the illegitimate teachings/uses of by authors.
Over the past few years Amazon became increasingly aware of review abuses and has taken sometimes severe measures in response. In the process sometimes innocent authors and reviewers have suffered penalties.
Please allow me to state right up front I’m not pointing an accusing finger at the innocent. My goal is to pass along information so authors won’t find themselves unknowingly in violation. Amazon obviously feels, as the courts do, that ignorance of the law is no defense. So let’s arm ourselves with knowledge as our defense.
Personally I suspect the widespread ignorance of Amazon’s guidelines may stem from the belief that Amazon is just the world’s largest book store, therefore has no strenuous guidelines or fine print. But, as my book describes, Amazon is so much more – it’s the largest and most powerful publicity machine known anywhere at this time.
And it is vital for authors to take time to learn the rules so they don’t inadvertently break them and suffer the consequences, consequences many writers are not aware exist.
Ignorance of the guidelines is not the only culprit. *I’ve read bestselling books that teach flagrant violations for promoting your book on Amazon, teachings that, if followed, will result in review deletion, and possibly your (and the teacher’s) book being deleted from Amazon’s bookstore if ever discovered.
*There is no need for me to identify the offending books or authors. If you read or hear these things being taught now you know they are false. My goal is not to bust authors but to learn. And if you take time to learn the guidelines you’ll always know whose teaching is valid and whose is not.
For a few years now the Amazon review controversy has flared, focusing largely on those who are innocent of their penalty. It’s not going to stop and there is good reason for that; the offenses don’t stop. So it’s time we focus on the guilty.
When I read new books written by promotional leaders that teach writers to violate the most strenuously enforced review guidelines, it’s time to sound the alarm again. Authors read these books, and not knowing how wrong the teachings are, follow them to the letter. And then when that dreaded email from Amazon arrives, they are shocked and angry.
*Tip: Watch out for books/articles using the word/words Guerilla/Guerilla Marketing. Most of them contain reliable information you can definitely use. But many advise highly illegitimate tactics. The term Guerilla Marketing means: an advertising strategy in which low-cost unconventional means (graffiti, sticker bombing, flash mobs) are utilized… Always attention-getting, but sometimes illegal.
One bestselling book I read teaches that authors should post a link to their own book when reviewing a similar book. This author advised writing reviews of books similar to yours and making sure in the first or second sentence to mention your own book and hyperlink to it. The book gave detailed instructions how to use Amazon’s “Insert Product Link Here” button to insert the link straight to their own book.
This is absolutely prohibited by Amazon. A highly respected colleague, Phyllis Zimbler Miller, followed this advice, placing the links to her books in several reviews. After reading my warning, about a week after she’d placed the violating links, she went to edit them out, but some of these reviews had already been deleted by Amazon. Thankfully one was still live that she could edit, and her previous reviews also remain safe. Read more from Phyllis.
I too teach authors how to use Amazon’s publicity machine for all it’s worth, but I spend a lot of time reading the help files & fine print to make sure I don’t add more illegitimate advice to the mire. Or even worse, provoke innocent authors to violation where they wreak penalties because of me. In that spirit, let’s take a few minutes to clarify what is NOT allowed in a review.
It’s as simple as that. To quote from Amazon, they do not allow:
  • Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively
  • Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product)
  • They also prohibit: “The upload, download, or transmission of any domain names, URLs, or hyperlinks. The use of the Service for commercial purposes such as advertising, promotion, or solicitation.”
That’s all pretty straightforward. Amazon’s primary rules prohibit self-promotion throughout their site, but this is especially stringent regarding reviews. If you violate Amazon’s rules if/when their ‘bots catch you, the punishment can be banishment.
And why would we want to break the rules? As described in my book, Amazon has already provided a unique and powerful publicity platform unlike anywhere else. All we have to do is acquire a basic understanding in order to place our books in the RIGHT categories and attach SEO optimized tags.
Then Amazon’s top secret algorithms take over to promote our book continually and indefinitely, in ways we could never afford to purchase outright. This is why Amazon makes bestsellers out of more authors than anywhere else. And why I’m more than happy to comply with all their rules and regulations when they benefit me so greatly. I explain their ingenious engine in more detail in my two white papers on the subject, How Book Categories Can Doom Sales or Make Amazon Your Personal Publicist. And, What Authors Must Know About Amazon Before Selling Their Books There.
Still violations are more prevalent than you’d think, whether through ignorance or purposeful deception. Keep a watchful eye because they can be, and are, taught in books sold right on, misleading honest authors. This is why I devoted part of my book to teaching what the review guidelines really say.
Make Amazon your own private publicist legitimately
to reap their vast promotional benefits
and none of their penalties.

I love hearing from you! What are your thoughts on Amazon guidelines? Leave a comment and let me know. And don't forget to check out our new book promo specials for December at

Aggie’s Bio: For decades peers have described Aggie Villanueva as a whirlwind that draws others into her vortex. And no wonder. She was a published author at Thomas Nelson before age 30 and commenced to found local writers’ groups, the Mid-America Fellowship of Christian Writers three–day conference, taught at nationwide writing conferences, and published numerous newsletters for various organizations.
Aggie’s 2012 book, Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers: But That’s Not All They Do, teaches authors to render their personal book publicist by employing the perpetual reach of book categories. With the exception of five days, this book hit immediate Kindle bestseller in three categories, and held steady in 1-3 categories for 36 weeks. The Amazon print version has repeatedly done short stretches as a category bestseller too. And both digital and print continue to show up intermittently as Kindle category bestsellers to this day.
Thomas Nelson published two of Villanueva’s novels in the 1980s. She is now an award-winning, bestselling Indie author of fiction & non fiction bestsellers.  Rightfully Mine, and The Rewritten Word, each became bestsellers in three Amazon print & Kindle categories within weeks of publication. The Rewritten Word held bestseller status steady in 1-3 categories for over 21 months, and won the 2011Dan Poynter Global eBook Award in the Writing/Publishing category.
Across the Web Aggie teaches how authors can attain the same things through author publicity. Villanueva founded Promotion รก la Carte, author promotional services, July 2010 and for the next 2 years was voted #2 & #4 at Preditors & Editors in the Promotion category (this company is now on sabbatical). Villanueva is also a critically acclaimed photographic artist represented by galleries nationwide, including Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. 
For more information you can contact Villanueva at

Monday, December 28, 2015

Innovative Marketing and Promo Ideas: Romance Trading Cards–Are They the New Bookmark?

Copyright © Gina Robinson
Originally Published by 1st Turning Point
For authors traditionally published in print, making bookmarks is almost automatic and practically required as soon as you get your cover.  In the past, it’s something I’ve done without thinking too much about it.  But with a new release coming out November 1st and e-books making increasing headway into market share, comprising between ten and thirty percent of the market, depending on who you talk to, I’ve been wondering if bookmarks are a doomed species.  How, exactly, will they benefit fans who read and buy purely digitally?  Have bookmarks outlived their usefulness?  Become too ubiquitous to be effective even with print readers?
The e-book market, coupled with this tight economy, has forced writers, including me, to think more strategically about the effectiveness of promo giveaways.  In 2011, is a bookmark still the best use of promo dollars?  Will it generate enough buzz and sales to be worth the effort and expense?
Any writer who’s attended a writers’ conference, particularly a romance writers’ conference, has probably come home with a goody bag filled with them.  What do you do with them all?  Here’s what I do–dump them out onto the kitchen table, sort through them, toss any that don’t appeal to me, put a rubber band around the rest, and throw them in a desk drawer to retrieve when I need one.  If I remember.  And the drawer is handy.  Otherwise, I’m known for grabbing any nearby scrap of paper to mark my place.  If I’m reading a print book, not my e-reader.
What benefits do I, as an author, intend to get from distributing bookmarks en masse?  The hope is at some point the recipient of the bookmark will stick it in a book they’re reading and by seeing it build subliminal name recognition next time they’re at the bookstore.  But how often does that happen?
I was pondering all this and trying to think of something innovative that would reach both digital and print readers when writers Jeannie Lin, Amanda Berry, and Shawntelle Madison sent an open invitation to one of my writing loops asking writers to participate in their new promo idea—romance trading cards.
This quote from explains, “Romance Trading Cards is a spur-of-the-moment collaboration that started with a few conversations on Twitter (#romancetradingcards) and has grown from there.  To participate, each author creates and prints their own card featuring a character from their book, hero, heroine, villain, one or more—it’s all up to you.  Bring the cards to signings and conferences for readers to collect and trade.”

I’m excited about this idea and signed up to participate.  But using collectible trading cards as opposed to bookmarks requires a shift in thinking to be successful.  How do I most effectively use trading cards to build buzz?  As opposed to bookmarks, where the goal was to get the bookmark in as many hands as possible, which led to writers sending them to conferences to be stuffed into each attendee’s goody bag and ignored, should the goal of trading cards be to create scarcity, to one degree or another, to create demand?  After all, the fun of collecting is the treasure hunt aspect of the search.
Bookmarks are most effective, in my opinion, when handed out by the author.  It’s that personal connection that sticks with the recipient.  The bookmark is only a memory jogger.  So it would seem that handing out trading cards personally would be the way to go.  But how do you build buzz from handing out one card at a time?
On the other hand, maybe an author does want to blanket the market with cards, hoping readers will keep them, collect them in albums, pin their favorites on bulletin boards, trade them online or in person, and just by looking at them from time to time, build that all-important name recognition.
But will readers, romance readers in this case, act like baseball fans and care enough about collecting the cards to make this venture successful?  Will certain cards eventually become valuable enough to be given away as contest prizes?  Or sold on eBay?  Jeannie Lin is already collecting cards to offer for sale in several charity auctions.  Will someone eventually say, “Hey, I’ve got a Gina Robinson The Spy Who Left Me Ty Miller card from 2011” in the same awed tone they’d use for a 1909 #366 Honus Wagner baseball card?
Will some savvy author make a special edition card, one that’s embossed with gold foil, and swing all the hype that writer’s way?  Or give away a card signed by the male cover model?  Or make a trading card that’s also a gift card?
It’s an exciting idea.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out.  I’ve posted my trading card here as an example here.  To check out more trading cards, go to Maybe soon all genres will become part of a trading card craze.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas for using trading cards.  And if you see me around, ask me for a trading card!

I love hearing from you! Authors helping authors is the best way we all succeed. What is your favorite promo tip? Leave a comment and let me know. And don't forget to check out our new book promo specials for December at

Gina Robinson is the author of the award-winning funny romantic suspense Agent Ex series. She also writes historical, contemporary, and new adult romance. She was not a prankster in college, although she knows a good many people who were. They will remain nameless to protect the guilty. She married her college sweetheart and has never forgotten that wonderful feeling of falling in love. Most days she writes while wearing slippers, flip-flops, or tennis shoes, depending on the season. But she loves a great, sexy heel and has a closet full for special occasions.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Before You Market and Before You Sell, Rewrite it Ten or Twenty Times

Copyright © Robert W. Walker
Originally published by 1st Turning Point

Marketing and selling are all important. The same can be said of doing blogs, making yourself known and heard on Twitter and Facebook, and being involved in chat groups, but what if the product isn’t all it should be? What if you have gone to market too fast, too soon, too nonchalantly?
When in my classes, I plead, beg, urge, encourage my students not simply to write but to rewrite, many have no idea how much the rewrite means to me; they’ve no conception of how many rewrites I do to get a page, a scene, a chapter right. Not just right but perfectly right to my final perfect liking. Of course, it is not always easy to determine when it’s as good as it’s going to get, but there comes a moment in the many rewrites of a scene or chapter that screams at you—you’re done! But then you turn it over to a number of editors, and guess what? You’re not done.
However, you’ve now been away from the story long enough that you can be objective with it and yourself, so that when suggestions anew are made, you can deal with them without freaking out. The story or scene or chapter is not correctable inside your head, so the first and rough drafts have to be produced before you can ever get to the process of rewriting and revamping and reorganizing and re-this and re-that. Once it is out of the gray matter and on the white page, you now have product to work with…to mold and shape, to hammer and saw…and you see it and feel it as a product rather than nebulous, foggy thoughts and voices careening about your mind’s deepest recesses and corridors.
Some authors say they hate the rewrite. This is understandable because once a story’s been told (the plot is put on paper), it can’t help but get old; it gets older as your rewrite, too. However, in my own case, I get my best lines and most inspiration and insights into character(s) and best plot twists and the occasional ingenious idea or movement in the action or situation during the laborious rewrites. Whole incidents not there before worm their way in, insisting on being a part; whole new characters crop up, insisting on being in the story. Layers develop and the once straightforward story takes on a character of the onion needing to be peeled away so as to get at the core. Themes emerge that were not there until that sixth, seventh, or tenth rewrite.
This certainly has been the case with my Children of Salem, a purely historical novel set in Salem Witch Hunt days wherein our hero is trying to conduct a courting of his childhood sweetheart when her mother is excommunicated and locked up as a witch. And this was certainly true of my 11-book medical examiner series begun with Killer Instinct and predating Bones and Silence of the Lambs. This was definitely the case with my recently completed Kindle original, Titanic 2012 – Curse of RMS Titanic. The thing grew and grew with each successive rewrite, and I believe and feel with all my heart that it grew for the better and not the worse.
Chapter 30 – OMG…how many times did I have to rewrite Chapter 30, far more than all the other chapters, and why? For one, it needed a great deal of attention from the get-go and a lot of rewriting even before I turned it over to early readers/editors. Knowing I need all the help I can get and not shying from that fact, I had as many folks read the early, ugly drafts as I could manage to find. The book was torn from limb to limb, as my early readers did not spare the rod or spoil the child/book…nor did they spare the slings and arrows for its author. “How couuuld you?”/ “Call yourself an English Professor, do you?”/ “What were you thinking?”/ “Are you sure you want to be a writer?” — Okay, I exaggerate and none of my early readers are that blunt or harsh, but I knew what they were thinking.
Chapter 30 — as with other chapters just required so much attention in large part due to the fact I had no idea what I was talking about. I knew what I wanted to say, what I wanted to accomplish, but as my final editor pointed out, he being a genius with special effects of the science fiction order: “You’d be laughed off the face of the Earth had that gone to press.” Fortunately, Robert Farley Jr. was tough on me and blunt. It would have been the equivalent of a street cop using a frilly girly-girly gun on the job had I not had this friend’s help in the sci-fi areas of the futuristic scenes. As I said, I knew what I wanted to get across, had it all sketched out in fact—but man, was it was damned rough until my friend and early reader/editor got hold of it. Together we went back at it again and again as it was not so easy for any of us either to get this scene across and keep all of its surreal dream aspect intact along with the floating dead, zombies in a true Dead Zone. I needed help with the sub, with the breathing apparatus, the liquid air—its scientific name, with how men might find a dead zone and how it would look and feel, a zone inside Titanic where no life, not even microscopic, lived—where only my hero alone becomes the sole life form. While having fun with the discovery of the 1912 cargo of automobiles. Final writing was a matter of many honings.
So never discount the power of the Rewrite and what it does for your story, scene, chapter, novel.
I love hearing from you! What are your thoughts about revising? Leave a comment and let me know. And don't forget to check out our new book promo specials for December at

Award-winning author and graduate of Northwestern University, ROBERT W. WALKER created his highly acclaimed INSTINCT and EDGE SERIES between 1982 and 2005. Rob since then has penned his award-winning historical series featuring Inspector Alastair Ransom with CITY FOR RANSOM (2006), SHADOWS IN THE WHITE CITY (2007), and CITY OF THE ABSENT (2008), and most recently placed Ransom on board the Titanic in a hybrid historical/science fiction epic entitled Titanic 2012 – Curse of RMS Titanic. The original Ransom trilogy straddles the Chicago World’s Fair circa 1893, and has had enthusiastic reviews from Chicago historians and the Chicago Tribune, which likened “the witticism to Mark Twain, the social consciousness to Dickens, and the ghoulish atmosphere to Poe!” Rob has since published DEAD ON (also an audiobook), a PI’s tale of revenge as a reason to live—a noir set in modern day Atlanta, followed more recently by Bismarck 2013, an historical horror title, The Edge of Instinct, the 12th Instinct Series, and a short story collection entitled Thriller Party of Eight (also an audiobook).
Rob’s historical novel CHILDREN of SALEM, while an historical romance and suspense novel exposes the evil in mankind via the politics of witchcraft in grim 1692 New England, which one professional editor reviewed as: A title that only Robert Walker could make work—romance amid the infamous witch trials. The author followed this ANNIE’S WAR, an historical romance set in 1859, a tale from the point of view of the daughter of the infamous John Brown of Harpers Ferry notoriety.
Robert currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia with his wife, children, pets, all somehow normal. For more on Rob’s published works, see,, books. He maintains a presence on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Annie’s War - Love Amid The Ruins, by Robert W. Walker. At seventeen, Annie Hope Brown is a woman in 1859 when she conspires against the US government with her infamous father, John Brown, and his Kansas Raiders. These men are anti-slavery forces Annie helps prepare to pull off the first home-grown terrorist attack in the US. The attack on the US Armory at Harpers Ferry as seen through the eyes of a love-struck, idealist young lady who abhors slavery and falls in love with her father's right hand man, John Kagi. Annie's quest to see Kagi one last time before the dangerous raid is enabled by a spy for the government, a green Pinkerton agent recruit named Wesley Lane whose mission is to assassinate Annie's father as Brown has become a liability to men at the highest levels of government since the war in Bleeding Kansas.
The tables are turned topsy-turvy, however, when Wes Lane and Annie Brown travel from Pennsylvania to Virginia together (as they are at cross purposes with one another--and are both lying to one another). Their lives become even more complicated by their growing feelings for one another as they face the obstacles before them. A sweeping epic love story and historical thriller with the clock ticking out of control, reading like a western, this is the first in a series of three, possibly four ANNIE'S WAR books. It takes time to win or lose a war, and besides, the novel is layered, honest, and unflinching.
From the author of CHILDREN of SALEM - Love Amid the Witch Trials, City for Ransom, Shadows in the White City, City of the Absent, Bismarck 2013 - Hitler's Curse, Titanic 2012 - Curse of RMS Titanic, and the bestselling Instinct and Edge Series.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tap into the Power of Google Alerts

Copyright © Mike Flynn and Eilis Flynn
Originally published by 1st Turning Point
We are pleased to report that Eilis’ presence on the internet is greater than ever. We know this because we use one of the many useful tools Google provides-Google Alerts.
Everybody has done a Google search. You’ve probably even Googled yourself or your work. The Google search engine is marvelously powerful, able to pull anything it has found on the internet and direct you to it.
That power is on tap for you even when you’re not actively looking for something. So, thanks to Google Alerts, we received notice via email that a presentation Eilis did with Jacquie Rogers was being offered by someone not us. And that knowledge will now enable us to notify the person who had posted the PDF that he’s posting something he doesn’t have a right to post.
You can put this power to work for you many ways. One obvious one is to see whether your works are being discussed on forums and blogs, or whether you’ve been reviewed somewhere that you aren’t expecting. In this way, Google Alerts works like an old clipping service. Long ago, in less digital times, companies like Burrelle’s were paid to grab any mention of its clients in hundreds of newspapers and magazines across the country. Major corporations and public figures paid a lot of money for that service. These days, Google offers it free of charge.
You can also use Google Alerts for research. While working on your book, you may have visited the library or done one or two search engine searches for some information you were missing. With Google, you can set an alert for a topic you need to know more about-say, Chinese dragons or the history of yachting-and you can let Google ferret out anything new while you’re actually writing. People are posting new things to the internet every day, but you might not remember to search every day. With Google Alerts, you don’t have to remember!
To set up a Google Alert is simple. You do need to have a Google account, which is easy to sign up for. You may already have one if you have a Blogger account. Go to the Google home page. You may never have noticed that, in the upper left corner, there is a menu of about a half-dozen items. Alas, none of these is Google Alerts (but all can help you). But the last item is “more.” Click there, and another dozen choices pop up that still aren’t Google Alerts. But click on “even more” and you’ll be taken to a page showing Alerts as your first choice. Click there, and you get a page asking you to enter the parameters for your Alerts. Enter your term and describe what kind of results and how often you want them. By type, you can select news, blogs, web, video, groups, or comprehensive. A comprehensive Alert will deliver everything. You may find that you will want to create individual Alerts for, say, news only (if you’re tracking a story in the media) or web (if you’re avoiding blogs and forums). The possibilities are virtually endless. You can also select how often to receive Alerts (you may not want to select “as it happens” because if you’re asking to be alerted about something that gets posted to the internet a lot, you’ll be inundated with emails). You can select the number of items you want to receive per email (the default maximum is 20). And finally, you can have your items delivered as an email or as a feed.
Once set up, these Alerts will come automatically, sometimes relentlessly. That’s not a problem, because you can edit them at any time as long as you’re logged into your Google account. More often, less often, more information, less information, or just delete. It’s all up to you!
So, put the power of Google to work for you-all free and easy! In fact, we’d like to invite everyone who reads this piece to drop us a line at and tell us how you’re using Google Alerts for your writing!
Next time, I’ll tell you about signing up, the variable price structure, and more about personalizing your very own ad campaign! 

I love hearing from you! How do you use Google Alerts? Leave a comment and let me know. And don't forget to check out our new book promo specials for December at

Eilis Flynn has worked at a comic book company, a couple of Wall Street brokerage firms, a wire service, a publishing company for financial cultists, and a magazine for futurists. She’s also dined with a former British prime minister and a famous economist, can claim family ties to the emperor of Japan (but then can’t we all?) and the president of a major telecommunications company, worked at most of the buildings of the World Trade Centers, stalked actress Katharine Hepburn (for one block), and met her husband when he asked her to sign a comic book. With all these experiences (all of which are true!), what else could she do but start writing stories to make use of all that? She’s written a variety of things that also don’t seem to belong together, but they do: comic book stories both online and in print, scholarly works in a previous life as a scholar, book reviews and interviews, and articles about finance (at odds with her anthropology background), before settling down to write romantic fantasies about the reality beyond what we can see.
Eilis lives in verdant Washington state with her equally fantastical husband and the ghosts of spoiled rotten cats. She was written Superman family stories for DC Comics (as Elizabeth Smith). Her first five novels—The Sleeper Awakes, Festival of Stars, Introducing Sonika, Echoes of Passion, and Static Shock,and Wear Black (cowritten with Heather Hiestand)—are available at most online retailers, and her novella,Riddle of Ryu, and short story, "Halloween for a Heroine," is available at the same digital stores. Her latest comic book story, ”30-Day Guarantee,” is available at
If you’re curious to find out more, you can check out She can be reached at If you’re looking for a professional editor for your own work, check out her rates at

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Are You Doing Enough to Promote Your Book?

Copyright © Joleen James
Originally published by 1st Turning Point

Are you doing enough to promote your book? As an unpublished author, I’ll admit I’m not doing enough to promote myself, but I’m working on it! Today, I’m speaking mainly to the published; those talented, lucky authors with books coming out or books already in print. How do you give your book its best shot? Where do you get the most bang for your buck?
I spent today searching promotion websites, looking for ideas, anything new, something I haven’t thought of or seen before—a different angle, a fresh way to promote. When I went to John Kremer’s website,, I had an “ah-ha” moment.
John Kremer says, “Every book you love should have a three-year marketing campaign where you do two to three things every day to market that book. Make a phone call. Send an email. Take someone important out to lunch. Write a letter. Knock on doors. If you do two to three meaningful things each day for every book you love—and continue to do so for three years—you will be successful. The world will catch up to you and notice your book. Your job as author or publisher is simply to hang around long enough for the world to notice. And ring a bell once in awhile to get their attention.”
What John Kremer says makes sense. Publishing is a hard business and it’s even harder to stand out, but two to three marketing things a day? Who has that kind of time or money? Plus, promotion can be expensive. What kind of promotion is available to someone on a limited budget? What works, what doesn’t?
Mystery writer Ann Charles is a master at promotion. She’s always looking for the angle, the way to turn meeting a new contact into promotion, the way to pick someone’s brain to find something innovative she can use to promote her own work, the way to trade something she has for something someone else can offer—a lot of it free. She’s a master at seeing the bigger picture when it comes to promotion. When Ann sells her first book, and I have no doubt this will happen, she’s going to sell big. Her contacts will be in place, many of them ready and willing to help her in any way they can. Ann is an author who practices the two to three-contacts a day rule (on her unpublished manuscripts!). Any publisher who gets her will be lucky.
Multi-published author Gerri Russell confided in me that if she had to do it all over again she wouldn’t waste money on print ads, printed material, etc. These things are costly and impersonal. She didn’t see much if any return on her dollars spent. No surprise. While print ads have their place (and could count as one thing you did to promote your book today) there’s no personal touch in a print ad. Gerri is a master at the meet and greet. She has the ability to make everyone feel special. Personal contact is her strength. How does she take her strength and make it work? She reaches out to her readers via a newsletter and through her blog. She speaks at conferences. She signs books and personally meets booksellers—most of these things are free. But are they enough? What would happen if she applied the two to three meaningful contacts a day rule? Imagine the possibilities…
Author Gina Robinson told me that one of the least expensive and easiest things she did was list a free book on Goodreads. It only cost her the price of the book and the postage to mail the book to the winner. Goodreads does the rest. Her book was listed on their page for three weeks to a month and over 500 people entered to win. Although you don’t get their emails for your email list, Gina still thought submitting to them was worth it. She also got quite a few hits on her website from Goodreads. Another favorite is sending a reviewer copy to your local paper. In a big city, the paper reaches hundreds of thousands. She also belongs to International Thriller Writers. They have an e-newsletter that comes out monthly that reaches over 12,000 thriller readers. It’s free for members to list their books in it during their release month. Gina also suggested going to the Public Library Associations Conference. Her publisher donated the books and Gina personally gave them out to about 75 librarians. She talked to many librarians that she otherwise would not have been able to reach. All it cost her was gas to and from the event.
Personally, I love the thought of three meaningful contacts a day. Meaningful.  In this age of social media, there’s something so nice about taking someone to lunch, writing a letter, or making personal contact with your local bookseller. It’s the two to three times a day that floors me. However, I’m inspired by John Kremer’s dedication to promotion. I’m inspired enough that I’m going to begin making a list of possible, meaningful, promotion contacts.
What about you? How many ways can you think of to promote your book? Does two to three times a day seem excessive, or does it seem doable and worth the effort? Does anyone out there already practice the two to three contacts a day rule? If so, are you willing to share any tips in the comments sections? I know I’d love to hear about your promotion ideas, and I’m sure others would, too.

I love hearing from you! And authors helping authors is the best we that we all win? Leave a comment and let me know your best promo tips. And don't forget to check out our new book promo specials for December at

Award-winning author Joleen James became an Indie author with the launch of her short story Hostage Heart. Since then she has released four small town contemporary romance novels: Falling For Nick, Under A Harvest Moon, Hometown Star, and Loving Glory.
When she's not busy writing, Joleen enjoys spending time with her family at her lakeside home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can find Joleen James at and on Facebook and Twitter. Visit Joleen’s page at Amazon Author Central.

Falling For Nick by Joleen James
It’s taken Clea Rose ten years to get over the one night she spent with bad boy Nick Lombard—a night of teenage passion that produced her son, and sent Nick to prison for murder. Now, with her life finally back on track, Clea’s about to marry a wonderful man and leave town for a promising career in New York. The last thing she expects is Nick’s return and the intense feelings he stirs within her.

Sent to prison for a murder he didn’t commit, Nick Lombard comes home to the tiny town of Port Bliss to attend his mother’s funeral, but he doesn’t count on running into Clea. Seeing her reminds him of everything he’s tried to forget, and everything he longs to remember. When Nick learns Clea is about to marry the man who sent Nick to prison, he knows he must stay and fight for the family he was forced to leave behind.

Against all odds, Nick and Clea must find their way back to the summer they were young lovers on the beach in Port Bliss, realizing that together their love is strong, strong enough to survive anything, even the web of lies that separated them ten years ago.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Book Promotion for Introverts

Copyright © Susan Lyons

Originally published by 1st Turning Point
I’m an introvert, which surprises a number of people who don’t know me well. They say I’m outgoing, sociable, even perky. W
ll, yes, I can be. But I’m actually more comfortable all alone with a good book.
It’s not that introverts don’t like people, but we tend to prefer being with them one at a time, and not for long periods of time. Introverts get energy from being alone; being with people (no matter how nice) tends to drain us. Extroverts are the opposite. Of course there’s a continuum of introversion-extroversion, and most of us don’t fall at either extreme.
When you consider how to promote yourself, your writing, and your brand, either before or after you’re published, it’s helpful to know where on the continuum you fall. You’ll find promotional methods that are suited to your personality. They’re likely to be effective because you’ll feel comfortable doing them, and they won’t stress you out and drain your energy. However, it’s not a good idea to simply settle back in your comfort zone and never extend yourself to try new things. If I can learn to be perky, so can a lot of other introverts!
Here are some promo/marketing techniques that suit most introverts:
  • Creating an informative, attractive website and keeping it updated.
  • Creating promo items and mailing them to conferences, stores, reader groups, etc.
  • Collecting subscriber names and sending out an e-newsletter, postcards, etc.
  • Entering contests (which provide industry exposure and give you something to post on your website and elsewhere).
  • Writing articles for writing magazines, Chapter newsletters, special interest magazines.
  • Placing ads.
  • Requesting reviews.
  • Giving away free stories on your website.
  • Blogging and social networking (unless you find even electronic contact to be stressful and draining).
  • Holding contests at your website, blog, or guest blog.
  • Participating in online loops and forums for writers and non-writers with common interests.
(No, I’m not saying you should do all these things. Choose the techniques that appeal to you and suit your time and budget, and bear in mind that you’re not trying to sell one book, but instead, trying to promote your brand and build a career.)
When you do introvert-style promotion, try to make your contact personal as well as professional and informative. This doesn’t mean you should post pictures of your kids on your website, but do put some personality into what you say. When you send out a mailing, send a cover letter. And of course, make sure the personality you convey matches your brand (e.g., if you write dark vampire romance, don’t have a humorous website or cover letter).
So far, so good. You’re probably feeling pretty comfortable. Well, now I’m going to ask you to step outside your comfort zone and grow a little. No, don’t dive into the deep end of extrovert promotion (e.g., give a solo talk to 300 local businesswomen), but start taking baby steps.
You’re a writer; you know about character arc. We expect our heroines and heroes to confront their fears and issues and grow into stronger, better people. Don’t expect anything less from yourself.
The more you practice behavior you’re uncomfortable with, the easier it will become. Learn and practice relaxation techniques (e.g., deep breathing, positive affirmations). Rehearse at home alone. Consider taking a course (e.g., public speaking, media interviews). Read up on systematic desensitization.
Talking to strangers is one thing that holds us back from extrovert activities like attending conferences, speaking at the library, and doing book signings. We fear we won’t know what to say and we’ll make fools of ourselves. That’s a very “me” focus. What about focusing on them instead? Even though you’re an introvert, you’re probably interested in people. I doubt you’d be writing if you weren’t. So, ask the person next to you what they write (at a writing conference) or what they like to read (at a signing). Then listen (i.e., focus on them, rather than on you) and ask a follow-up question. They’ll think you’re a brilliant conversationalist!
Here’s a trick I use when I’m facing an event that scares me. I tell myself it’s only a couple of hours out of my life. Even if it’s horrible, what’s the big deal? I’ll live through it. And I’ll feel proud of myself for having had the guts to face it.
Rewards are good, too. Often, a nice conversation is your reward, but the reality is, sometimes it really will be horrible! If so, there’s always chocolate and a good book.
And don’t beat up on yourself if you just can’t break out of your shell today (change is hard!); gently remind yourself to try again tomorrow.
Set goals and start small. At your local Chapter, chat with new members at the coffee break (they’ll likely be more nervous than you, and incredibly grateful to you). Get together with a couple of other authors to present an interactive workshop (so you don’t just stand there, head down, reading notes). Participate in a group signing at your local store and invite your friends and family.
You may never feel 100% comfortable doing extrovert activities, but your comfort level will grow.
A word of caution. For an extrovert, going to a conference and meeting a bunch of strangers, doing pitch appointments, and presenting workshops is an energizing experience. For an introvert, it’s the opposite. It’s likely to be draining and exhausting. When you plan an extrovert activity, allow time afterward to relax on your own and recharge your batteries. If you’re at a conference, try to schedule some alone time each day.
So, here’s my challenge: be the heroine (or hero) in your own story and take those baby steps out of your introvert comfort zone. For every two steps forward you may take one back, but your comfort level will grow and you’ll get better and better at doing those extrovert-type promo activities.

This is a topic dear to my heart, being an introvert myself. But I love hearing from other introverts too! Get out of your comfort zone and leave a comment about your promotion experiences. And don't forget to check out our new book promo specials for December at

Award-winning author Susan Lyons, who also writes as Susan Fox and Savanna Fox, writes “emotionally compelling, sexy contemporary romance” (Publishers Weekly). She is currently published by Kensington (the Caribou Crossing Romances) and Berkley (the Dirty Girls Book Club series), and has also self-published her first book. Susan is a Pacific Northwester with homes in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia. She has degrees in law and psychology, and has had a variety of careers, including perennial student, computer consultant, and legal editor. Fiction writer is by far her favorite, giving her an outlet to demonstrate her belief in the power of love, friendship, and a sense of humor.

“I loved this book. It’s the perfect sweep-you-away story—smart, sexy, funny and touching, set in a beautifully rendered place in the west. Susan Fox delivers an unforgettable read” (Susan Wiggs).
Best friends Evan Kincaid and Jess Bly always knew the future would take them in opposite directions. She’d remain in Caribou Crossing with the horses she loved, and he’d make it big in the Big Apple. No hard feelings when, after one mind-blowing night of passion, he split town. Right? Now Evan’s back, reluctantly, and both he and Jess are hiding huge trust-destroying secrets. The attraction between them is more powerful than ever, but when the truth comes out, can country girl and city boy risk a second chance at love? The Caribou Crossing Romances: Caribou Crossing (June 2013), Home on the Range (Aug 2013), Gentle on My Mind (Sep 2013), Stand by Your Man (July 2014), Love Me Tender (Dec 2014).

Monday, December 14, 2015

Does Your Elevator Go Up or Down?

Does Your Elevator Go Up or Down?

Copyright © John Foxjohn
Originally published by 1st Turning Point

A funny thing happened to me on the way to publication.  I’d finished a book and thought I was ready to pitch it.  I wasn’t, but that’s another story.  Anyway, I was going to attend my first conference, and as it sometime happens, the conference had agents and editors to pitch to.

I was all set to go.  I had my book that I thought was ready, a willingness to publish my book, fulfill a lifelong dream, and rake in the big bucks.  And I was going to accomplish all that at this conference.

Hey, what can I say?  I write fiction—have a huge imagination.

Then, I realized I had never been to a writing conference before, knew nothing about it, never pitched anything other than a baseball, and figured there might be a slight difference.

At the time, I belonged to an online writers’ group.  This group wasn’t affiliated with any major genre.  It was just a bunch of people who wanted to be writers.  No one in the group was published, but quite a few of them had been members of the group for a long time, and I figured that they must know all about writing and conferences.  So, I asked.

They were all willing to give me advice.  Some conflicted with the other, but two pieces they were all in agreement on: They told me that I should never ever pitch to the agents and editors at the receptions, in the elevators, or any place except the designated pitch areas at the designated times.  When they told me this, it kind of made sense, and while I was at the conference, I took their advice.

Of course, I was the only writer there who did.  I went home from the conference with one pitch and one partial request.  Most of the writers left with six or seven partial or full requests because they were talking to the agents and editors at the receptions.

Another piece of advice these novices gave me: I needed what they called an “elevator pitch” for the agent or editor when they called me into my ten-minute session. They explained to me that I needed one, two, or three sentences that told what my book was about and would interest them enough that they would ask me to send the book to them.

Over the years, I have found the first piece of advice wasn’t that great.  However, the second was not bad at all.
It wasn’t until I started out trying to come up with this sentence or two that fully explains what my book was about that I questioned their sanity.  I was learning to write a synopsis at that time and couldn’t get it down to five pages, and they wanted me to do it in two sentences.

Needless to say, I wasn’t ready for my first conference.  But hey, I was for the second.  My book still wasn’t ready, and I still didn’t know enough to know that, but I had my elevator pitch ready.

There I was, standing in the reception area, drink in hand, and in walked a writer that I actually had met from the other conference.  With her was a male writer I didn’t know.  The writer I knew introduced me to the one I didn’t, and the next thing I know, the one that I knew took off and left me with the one that she’d just introduced me to.

One of these days, we will meet again—I hope.  Sure would like to tell her a different kind of elevator pitch.
As it would happen, I was dressed up, suit coat, tie, the whole bit, and I’m standing there with this man, and wondering why the other one fled so fast.  Out of politeness, I asked him what he wrote.  Seemed like a good question.

Forty-five minutes later, I learned that the guy actually thought I was an agent, and he spent the entire time telling me about his book.  Literally, forty-five minutes.  I would assume that no one had advised him on the elevator pitch.

They also didn’t tell him anything else either, because to get away from him, I went to the bathroom and he followed me.  It took me a while to finally figure out how to get away from him.  There was no one there I knew to ditch him off to, so I finally told him to send me the manuscript.

Shocked, he asked me, “All of it—all eight hundred pages?”

To this day, I don’t know who he thought I was, or who he sent that manuscript to, but trust me, if I had been an agent or editor, I would not have touched him—no way.  He bored me absolutely silly.

Now, I want you to close your eyes, imagine you are at a book signing, and a reader comes up to you and asks what most of them do: “What’s your book about?”

Are you going to give them the elevator pitch or the full synopsis?  Here’s a hint: if their eyes start to glaze over, you might have chosen the wrong one.

I love hearing from you! Do you have an elevator pitch? Leave a comment and let me know. And don't forget to check out our new book promo specials for December at

John Foxjohn, the author of the best-selling true crime, Killer Nurse, epitomizes the phrase "been there--done that." Born and raised in the rural East Texas town of Nacogdoches, he quit high school and joined the Army at seventeen: Viet Nam veteran, Army Airborne Ranger, policeman and homicide detective, retired teacher and coach, now he is a multi-published author. 

Growing up, Foxjohn developed a love of reading that will never end. In fact, he refers to himself as a "readalcoholic." He began with the classics and still lists Huckleberry Finn as one of his all time favorites. Later, he discovered Louis L'Amour and besides owning every book he wrote, Foxjohn says he's read every one of them at least five times. 

However, when he was twelve, Foxjohn read a book about Crazy Horse, and decided right then he would also write one about the famous Lakota leader. After many "yondering" years as L'Amour called them, he spent ten years researching his historical fiction, Journey of the Spirit, now titled The People's Warrior. 

Maybe because of his eclectic reading habits John has not limited himself to publishing in one genre. In fact, he has published mysteries, romantic suspenses, historical fiction, legal thrillers, and nonfiction Killer Nurse. 
When he's not writing, teaching writing classes, or speaking to different writing groups and conferences, Foxjohn loves to spend time square dancing, working in his rose garden, or in his garage doing woodwork. However, his passion outside of family and writing is without a doubt, anything to do with the Dallas Cowboys. 

Killer Nurse by John Foxjohn

She was hired to nurse them back to health...instead, she took their lives.

For months, the DaVita Dialysis Center in Lufkin, Texas had been baffled by the rising number of deaths and injuries occurring in their clinic. In April alone, they’d rushed thirty-four patients to the hospital. But no one expected such a horrific cause to be behind it all.

Kimberly Clark Saenz was a well-liked licensed vocational nurse at the center. The East Texas nurse was a mother of two, and known for her smiles and the stories she told to help patients pass the time. But on April 28, 2008, witnesses came forward to say that instead of lifesaving medication, they’d seen Saenz adding toxic bleach to IV ports. Turns out, it wasn’t the first time. Once caught, the shocking story of Saenz’s murderous practices began to unravel…