Thursday, June 28, 2012

3 Ways to Gain Influence Online by KC Neal, summer series #4

First, congratulations to Sherry C. for winning the most awesome prize pack from C.A. Kunz, the mother/son duo who guest appeared with us last week. (Thanks for stopping by guys! And thanks for leaving behind such a rockstar prize!)

This week is all about marketing, which is why we are so excited to have KC Neal, author of Pyxis, with us to share some of her marketing tips. She rocks the marketing stuff and so we are always copying, er, watching, her moves. Here's KC:

3 Ways to Gain Influence Online (That You May Not Have Thought Of!)
guest post by K.C.Neal

1. Provide Original Information

It seems like everyone is a content provider these days. It’s just so easy to start a blog or throw up a website. But how much of the content out there is truly original and useful? My background is in science and research, so I love data and original research. (Let’s hear it for writers who love advanced statistics! Hello…?) Last year, I put out a book blogger survey, and over 70 bloggers responded. One of the most popular posts on my blog is based on some of the data from that survey: The One Thing Book Bloggers Hate Most. It’s also one of my most commented-on non-giveaway posts. For all I know, I’m the only person who’s ever conducted a survey specifically aimed at book bloggers! That survey gave me tons of original information to share. I’ve written several posts about working with book bloggers and doing blog tours, and I’ve taught a couple of webinars on these topics. Ya see? Originality… authority… influence. Find ways to provide useful, original content, and readers will get excited about it and be interested in what you have to say.

2. Spearhead an Event, Group, or Service

Early this year, an author friend and I joined forces to create Spread Love, Not Hate, an anti-bullying blog hop event. (I know! An event that had nothing to do with my book, or any book, or writing, or publishing!) One hundred people signed up to take part and blog about bullying, and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. Several people sent me private notes about how much it meant to them to be part of Spread Love, Not Hate, and many of the participants were bloggers I’d never spoken to before this event. Pick something that’s meaningful to you, or provide something that meets a need or fills a gap.

3. Turn Off the Laptop and Put Down the Smartphone

What?! Yes, I’m saying it: Step away from the internet. I promise it will still be there when you come back. One of my goals for 2012 is to do at least one IRL (that’s “in real life”) event per month related to my career as an author. So far, I’m keeping up with my goal: I’ve visited several schools and spoken to a few hundred students about writing and publishing, and I was a presenter at a local writers’ conference. Plans for more IRL events include a book signing, speaking to a publishing class at Boise State, attending a couple of conferences… and who knows what other opportunities I’ll find. As much as I love my online community of friends, nothing beats meeting and chatting with people IRL… and many of those people will become Facebook friends and blog followers, too. Look for the IRL events, organizations, and speaking opportunities that are all around you.

I hope I’ve given you some fresh ideas for expanding your connections and influence. Please find me online and say hello:

K.C. Neal is the author of Pyxis, the first book in a unique Young Adult paranormal series.
 She also manages operations for a successful indie publisher, and runs author education webinars through StoneHouse University.

In keeping with this week's marketing theme, we are offering a great prize! AND extending the giveaway since 2/3 of us will be in Nashville next week. An e-book by Kristen Lamb called We Are Not Alone:

One winner will be chosen to receive their choice of e-book format (Nook or Kindle version). And p.S. this book MUST be pretty bangin' if Angeline Kace says this is what led her to Twitter. #JustSayin #QueenOfTweets

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Generation Gap, A Mother & Son Duo

First, we have to say a big CONGRATULATIONS to S.C. for winning an e-book of Destiny's Fire from Trisha Wolfe's giveaway last week. Also to Beth D. & Amy for winning the signed swag packs. Check your email so we can get a mailing addy for ya and get your goodies out.

Now, on to this week's post!

This week we asked C.A. Kunz, the mother/son duo and authors of the most amazing YA fantasy, The Childe, to stop by and give us the dirt, aka the real deal, on working with a partner.

We just had to know how they do it, because we're not really sure we could work with our mothers. #WeLoveOurMommysThough #Promise.

And, as you're all coming to expect (and rightly so) -- stay tuned for an EPIC giveaway at the end. #BecauseWeLoveYou and also because #WeAreAddictedToHashtags

Generation Gap: Working as a Mother and Son Author Duo

Right about now you’re probably wondering, what do Carol Kunz and Adam Kunz have in common? Well, you’re actually probably wondering who Carol Kunz and Adam Kunz are. We’re the mother and son author duo who are also known as C.A. Kunz. Next, you’re probably asking yourself, how did a mother and son start writing together? We could give you the long version, but the short version is I (Adam) always knew it was a lifelong dream of my mom’s to write a book. So, after a failed attempt at writing a screenplay with a friend of mine, I decided to approach her with an idea for a novel. Little did she know that it would turn into a four to five book series and not just be a onetime deal like I had led her to believe, hehehe.

Our venture into the literary world began with our debut novel, The Childe. Two things were certain when we started our series: 1) It would be catered to young adults and 2) It would contain every paranormal creature that we both loved while growing up. I’d list the things that happened which were completely unexpected, but that would be a much looooonger list.

So how many out there think it’s easy to write with a partner, let alone another family member? Oops, I forgot that we won’t be able to see you raise your hands or hear your answers. Well, let me just answer for you by saying, contrary to popular belief, two heads are not necessarily always better than one. Not only do we have a generation gap between us, but we also have the gender thing to contend with as well. People seem to be fascinated by the fact that we write together as a mother and son, and can’t seem to wrap their heads around how exactly we go about it. Do we argue (for the record, I call it discussing)? Of course we do. Do we have different opinions about where the story should go? Heck yes. Does my Mom want to add more romance to our book? That’s a no brainer. Do I like more suspense and action? Uh, in a word, yes! Yet somehow we always find a happy balance, even if it’s after a lot of arguing (I mean discussing).

Writing together has done a lot for us in ways we couldn’t imagine. Besides the joy we feel when we hold the physical copies of our books in our hands, we’ve also had the chance to meet so many wonderful fans, bloggers, and fellow authors along the way. We wouldn’t give up this experience for anything. We love the fact that we get to see each other more often than we would if we weren’t writing. We also speak daily on the phone about our current books, future books, and life in general, and no, before you say anything, I’m not a momma’s boy…well I guess I kind of am (but don’t tell her that I said so).

Our advice (for what it’s worth) is when writing with a partner, the journey to the end is always well worth it if you’re having fun. The moment you stop having fun, is the moment you should take a break. Buuuuut NEVER give up! We know it’s not easy, and yes you have to work hard, and yes you have to listen, and yes you have to be patient, and you also have to come to the painful realization that your partner can NOT read your mind no matter how hard you stare at them and concentrate, hahaha! These are all things you must train yourself to do if you want to make it work with your writing partner. We’re just glad that we kind of have it down to a science now…kind of.

Oh, and one last note. This post would not be complete without mentioning one special person, my dad/Carol’s husband, who is not only the illustrator of all the drawings inside our books, but he’s also our cook/waiter/barista when we have our long edit sessions, and an impartial referee when needed. Robert Kunz is a saint of saints in our world of writing!

P.S. Here are a few tid-bits of info we wanted to pass along to you all:1) We will be attending the UtopYA convention in Nashville, Tennessee on July 6th, 7th, and 8th. There are going to be some truly AMAZING authors there and I’m sure we’d all love to see your smiling faces.
2) Also, a little ways down the road (labor day weekend to be exact), we will be at the Decatur, Georgia Independent book festival, which just so happens to be the LARGEST Indie book festival in the country!

P.P.S. My mom says that she will not be held liable for anything in this post because I’m the one who typed it. Also, she wants me to remind everyone that any unflattering comments or remarks made in this post about her are all rumors and untrue.


Thanks SO much for stopping by, guys! Now, on to the goodies, because this is definitely the BEST prize pack we've had up for grabs so far. CA Kunz know how to give stuff away! 
The winner will receive ALL of the following:
1. Signed paperback of The Childe
2. Signed paperback of Dark Days
3. A Swag pack which includes: a The Childe Button, a The Childe bookmark, a The Childe magnet, a Dark Days postcard, a Dark Days sticker, a moonstone necklace (which looks like Cat's necklace from the book), a moonstone bracelet, a Paranormal Plumes trading card, and a happy face penny.
4) A stuffed cat (the stray cat, Jewels, who visits the main character Cat all the time.)
5) A large The Childe series T-shirt.

Crazy huge prize pack up for grabs, and its international!!! Enter via the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Marketing: What Works, What Irritates by Trisha Wolfe

Welcome back for week 2 of our Author guest post series! The winner of Tiffany King's e-book giveaway from last week is: Kerry
Congrats! *throws confetti*

And for the Larry Brooks e-book giveaway, Congratulations to: Sherlyn
*throws more confetti* *chokes*

And stay tuned for another awesome giveaway at the end of this post, authors and readers alike should enter!

This week's author guest post is from Trisha Wolf, author of Destiny's Fire:

An awesome steampunk/paranormal romance that is a definite MUST-READ for YA lovers. She is here to talk about marketing: an elusive, yet necessary, evil for authors. Check out what she has to say:

Marketing Tips and Ideas: What Works, What Irritates People by Trisha Wolfe

Hi! Now, before I go forward with this post, I want to let everyone know that I’m in no way a marketing expert. Hardly. But what I do know is that whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, you’re going to have to market yourself and your books. Your publicist will help, but she/he wants you to reach out to your readers and promote that book as best you can.

*blank stare*

I know. Promoting your book is hard. It’s not fun. It’s work. And it kind of makes you feel like a tool, like you’re always going on about me, me, me…Well, you can market without annoying people. And what’s more, your readers expect and want you to tell them things. So you can breathe easy that no one thinks badly of you.

I’m going to focus this blog post on marketing before and during your book release. All these things can be done at any time, but I want to narrow it down—try to give you some ideas during your book’s launch.

Stalking. Yup. I hereby give you permission to be a creeper. Follow some of your favorite authors and watch how they talk about their books, characters, writing, etc., and what devices they use to successfully market their books. But from a distance! On social media. Don’t do drive-bys at their home at three in the morning. Or, at least turn off your headlights. 

Book Launch Party. I’ve never attempted this, so I can’t talk from personal experience if it worked for me, but I hear they’re all the rage. Book launch parties don’t have to be at an actual location, you can host them online, too. Get up with one of those authors you’re stalking and ask them some questions about how they organized theirs. What worked and what didn’t, and jot down notes. Google it. And make sure to have plenty of swag and extra books for signing to pass out or mail out. If you’re on a tight budget, add a “send me swag page” to your website or blog with a P. O. Box where readers can send you a self-addressed envelope that you can mail back to them stuffed with fun stuff.

Book Blog Tour. Now here’s an area I do know a lot about. I’ve been organizing tours for nearly two years, and if the author uses their time during their tour effectively, they have a chance to really make an impact on the blogosphere and book community. During your book tour, reach out and chat with the bloggers that are on your tour. Help them tweet, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Follow them and RT their tweets. Host a Twitter chat with a hashtag and ask them to join in the fun. Offer giveaways during the chat. Get as many people involved as possible to help spread the word during your tour. Friends, family, long lost cousins…Long as they want to support you, give them a job. Tell them they’re on your Street Team, and put them to work promoting your book. Having a solid team helping to spread the word alongside your blog tour is a great way to get the news about your book out there even farther. 

Write interesting guest posts! I can’t stress this enough. You’re a writer. Write something entertaining. Show the readers what they can expect from your work if they read your book. Most of the time, the tour host or the blogger hosting your post will help you come up with good ideas. Ask them for help. Once your tour ends, write a thank you email to all the bloggers who participated and ask if it’s okay for you to add them to your contact list. Find out if you can send them information on upcoming books, promotions, whatever, and stay in contact with them. Bloggers are closing their doors more and more as they become busier and their review books pile up. So make that connection and keep it. But don’t be annoying. Only send out important newsletters when it’s actually something, you know, important.

Okay. Break time. I’m going to be honest about something. I know a lot of people say to send tweets and Facebook updates for book buy links a few times a day to reach new followers. But, what about those who already follow you? Those who have been following you a while and get tired of seeing the same tweet and update daily? Here’s my personal opinion. And again, it’s only mine. Chuck it into the river if you want. But I think it’s best to only tweet out buy links to your book when you have a promo going on. Like if it’s on sale for a little while. If it’s not, stop spamming people. Instead, write interesting blog posts and have something fun going on at your blog where you can send them, then have your book covers and buy links on your sidebar. You can do something promotional once a month on your blog (a giveaway of another author’s book, etc.) and drive traffic there that way to show off your buy links. Trust me, they will click them if they want to. Use your Twitter and other social media time to say fun and interesting things about stuff.
I told you above I’m no expert. But I really do hope some of this may help. Best of luck, and happy writing! 

Trisha Wolfe is the author of the YA Steampunk/PR DESTINY'S FIRE (Omnific 2012). Her published short stories have appeared in literary journals and Fantasy magazines. UNVEILED is her first novelette and part of the FIREBLOOD series slated to release from Spencer Hill Press in October 2013. She’s written five books in the past three years, and is currently working on sequels and a new Sci-Fi project. She’s represented by Lauren Hammond of ADA Management.
Stalk her here:
Website        Blog        Twitter           Facebook

AP says: Thanks so much for stopping by Trisha! Great ideas for marketing.
To the reader: We *might* have stolen some of them, so you can, too. 

Trisha is offering a giveaway so be sure to enter via the Rafflecopter below. (US only) Giveaway ends 6/21!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My Road to Becoming, Author Guest Series #1

As promised (and mostly alluded to),a we've got a full schedule for our readers and fellow authors this summer. Beginning today, we will have a new guest post each week--each one submitted by an author with wisdom to spare and experience to share. 

To kick things off, Tiffany King, author of the Saving Angels series and Wishing for Someday Soon, stopped by. So excited to have you, Tiff! We think it's fitting that Tiffany is our very first guest poster, as she is such a huge supporter of her fellow authors, especially indies. We heart you, Tiffany! Can't wait to see you in Nashville this summer! 

Below, Tiffany tells her story of going from a part-time to full-time author. Keep reading for a giveaway at the end--we wouldn't leave readers hangin'. Stick around this summer! There's something for everyone! 

Here's Tiffany ...

My Road to Becoming a Full-Time Writer

Three years ago, if you would've told me I'd be sitting here at home as a full-time writer, I would have laughed out loud. The idea would have seemed completely foreign. At the time, I was busy working full-time as a preschool teacher while putting myself through college so I could get a better job. Both my kids were in school and our life was typically hectic. I had no aspirations of becoming a writer, and would break out in hives at the mere thought of allowing anyone to read anything I had written, let alone a novel. So, you may be asking yourself (or maybe not if you’re already bored, LOL), what set me on this crazy, wonderful, exhilarating rollercoaster ride that I’ve been lucky enough to board?  

I was on a week-long break from work and school. My daughter and I had one plan for the break: read, read, and read some more. Unfortunately, two days into our winter break, nothing had sparked our interest, and we were both struggling to get through different books. It was at the start of the third day that a crazy idea formed in my head. What if I could write something that we could both read that we might like? That first day, I wrote twelve thousand words, with my daughter, who was thirteen at the time, devouring each word I wrote. It was a wacky, loony week with no sleep as I tried to get the story on paper before I had to go back to work and school. My intention was for only my daughter to read Meant to Be, who I was sure only liked it because I was her mom. To my mortification, my hubby got his hands on it and read the entire thing also. I waited with dread for his verdict, but much to my surprise, he liked it (double Eeeep!). He went through the manuscript for me, cleaning up many of the grammar issues that seem to be my kryptonite. Life took over, though, as I went back to work and school, and Meant to Be was put on the back burner.

Fast forward two years later, and my life was still crazy, but I was finally closing in on finishing my degree program. My new resume was typed up, and I was ready to hit the pavement to find a better-paying job, but there was a small nagging in the back of my head that steadily grew more persistent. Finally, unable to ignore it any longer, I decided to discuss with my hubby the idea of giving Meant to Be a chance. Being the wonderful supportive person he is, he loved the idea, and together we jumped off the self-publishing bridge together.

We learned the ins and outs of marketing, formatting, and everything else involved with self-publishing. Kicking and screaming, I created a Twitter account, although I was scared to death to post my first tweet, being a shy person by nature. Those that know me on Twitter might find that hard to believe, but it’s true (LOL). Through Twitter, I found many great people who shared my same interests: wonderful book bloggers, fabulous readers, and talented authors. It is with the help of all of these fantastic people that Meant to Be got into the hands of readers. I cannot thank them enough for all their support and words of encouragement.

Once Meant to Be was officially released, the real work began (hehehe). Marketing your book without the help of a publisher can be a full-time job, and can consume your life, but the payoff can be worth it. While I continued to spread the word about Meant to Be, I got busy writing the sequel, and four months later, Forgotten Souls was released, followed by The Ascended, the final book in the series, three months later. Then, exactly one year after Meant to Be released, my fourth novel, Wishing for Someday Soon, was released, and I was able to quit my job to become a full-time writer.

What I learned in this crazy, wacky, hang-onto-your-seat ride this past year is that becoming a self-published author can be frustrating, discouraging, exciting, and the most exhilarating experience ever. It takes thick skin, a tough will, and a never-give-up kind of drive, but it can be the most gratifying thing you ever do. In one year, I discovered that a small idea could blossom into something that could change my life completely around, becoming the best dream ever.
Tiffany is offering a giveaway to one lucky winner--any one of her titles, WINNER'S CHOICE! Just enter via the Rafflecopter below. And check back next week for the winner and a new guest! (Contest is international. Ends 6/13.)