Guest Post and Giveaway

Dear Reader,

I’m doing my best to catch up with everything after my conference last week, and feel like I’m failing miserably. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer my tardiness! Check out my guest post at Word Nerd and leave a comment there to win a signed print copy of Haunting Miss Trentwood plus the coffin-shaped soap that goes with it!

Best,

Belinda

Unexpected Progress

Dear Reader,

I’ve made unexpected progress. Unexpected, because it doesn’t have to do with writing, sadly. Once again not following through with my ROW80 goals. I once again have taken a break from the writing, but instead made progress on some of my web presence issues.

Maybe I should change my ROW80 goal altogether. To something like, “Do it. Whatever it is, if it takes you one measurable step forward this week, do it.”

You see, I have a Facebook Page, but have struggled with what to do with it. Even though I have a computer engineering degree, the FBML app just confused the crap out of me that last time I tried to work with it. I was over-thinking it like CRAZY, which isn’t a surprise. That’s kind of my modus operandi, to be honest.

That said, I finally buckled down yesterday and worked on two graphics for the fan page: a large banner on the left, and a splash image for the welcome tab. AND, I figured out how to get the stupid FBML tabs to work so I can throw in my HTML. So now we have a “welcome” tab and a “buy a copy” tab. The content from “buy a copy” came straight from my Bright Bird Press website. Easy peasy. What took me so long?

No clue. But I credit ROW80 for making me do something about it. Check out how everyone else is doing, will you?

All the best,

Belinda

Midwinter Giveaway Hop

Dear Reader,

We have another giveaway! It’s the holidays and there’s nothing better than free stuff.

This giveaway is super easy. Leave a comment on this post to enter the contest to receive a free digital copy of my first book, Catching the Rose. I am giving away three copies. I hope if you win you will agree to review it, but that’s totally up to you.

That isn’t all, though! Everyone who comments saying they agree to review my short story “Mad Maxine” will win a free digital copy of the story.

So really, you have nothing to lose! Comment and you will win something.

This giveaway will run from December 21 – 22, but I’m accepting submissions from December 20 – 22.

Want to see what other blogs are offering? Check out the participating blogs at the bottom of the giveaway hop page.

Happy holidays!

Belinda

Spooktacular Winners!

Giveaway-WinnerDear Reader,

We had 53 entries to win signed copies of Haunting Miss Trentwood and Catching the Rose, which is pretty good for a little blog like Worderella Writes! Everyone who followed me in more than one location online (Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter) got an additional entry per location.

I placed all the entries in a spreadsheet, and used Random.org to pick me three random winners. The number correlates row line of the entries.

Without further ado, the winners are

  • Catching the Rose : Brandy, from Goodreads
  • Haunting Miss Trentwood : Michelle, from Twitter
  • Haunting Miss Trentwood : Charlie Courtland, from Goodreads

If the winners could send me their addresses as soon as possible so I can ship their copies out to them, that would be wonderful. Use this Google Form to make it really easy!

Sorry to those of you who didn’t win! Better luck next time, and thanks so much for your interest. ❤

Coming soon… I’ll talk about my book launch party, which went really well!

Best,

Belinda

Spooktacular Giveaway Begins!

Dear Reader,

You are in luck. I am giving away three books in celebration of the Haunting Miss Trentwood book launch. This giveaway is in conjunction with the Spooktacular giveaway hop.

What do you win?

You have the chance at winning a free signed copy of Catching the Rose, or one of two signed copies of Haunting Miss Trentwood.

How do you enter?

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads and fill out this form. You are not disqualified if you already follow me on any of these networks. Make sure you chose the Facebook fan page, and not my personal profile.

Are multiple entries allowed?

Yes! You are allowed five additional entries after the Twitter follow. This means I will accept a total of six contest entries.

Acceptable additional entries include:

  • tweeting the contest
  • friending me on Goodreads
  • liking my page on Facebook
  • linking to the contest through your blog or Facebook

Each additional entry requires returning to this form to provide a link to ensure I saw it.

The contest will close at midnight on October 31. The winners will be selected using a spreadsheet and random.org to ensure fairness.

I do ask that winners post a review of the books on Goodreads, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.

Best of luck, contest hopeful!

Belinda

PS. Check out the other goodies in the Spooktacular Blog Hop Giveaway!
http://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=47532

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Dear Reader,

It’s October, which means Haunting Miss Trentwood is coming to you soon! In celebration of this, I’ve joined the Spooktacular giveaway hop.

Details will come later, but as a teaser, I will be giving away a copy of Catching the Rose and two copies of my soon-to-be-released book, Haunting Miss Trentwood. There will be a number of ways to enter the contest. To qualify, you must follow me on Twitter @worderella. To submit multiple entries you can…

  • Comment here at Worderella Writes
  • Tweet the contest
  • Become my friend on Goodreads
  • Become my friend on Facebook
  • Link to the contest through your blog or Facebook
  • Leave a review on Goodreads, etc.

You may submit up to ten entries each day over the length of the contest, October 25-31. Unfortunately, only USA entries are accepted.

By the way, we’re 57% funded for Haunting Miss Trentwood. Pre-order your copy at http://kck.st/ck1n9t. We have ten days to go, and every dollar counts toward the $640 we need to raise!

All the best,

Belinda

A Micropress, a Vlog Campaign, a Contest

It’s been a busy week in Worderella World. I haven’t done much writing because I’ve been busy setting up my micropress, which I finally named Bright Bird Press. I like it; it feels good. I set up the website the other night with WordPress and threw up a fairly nice theme to hold me over until I have time to design one or find something better.

Vlog Campaign

I’m also starting a mini-vlog campaign series a la The Vlog Brothers, Meggin Cabot, and Zoe Winters. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but with grad school taking up so much time, I didn’t have the resources. Now I have the resources, and I feel like a total copycat because Zoe released her videos a week ago. She made the great point that we’ll have different topics and styles, so I shouldn’t feel like a copycat, but I do anyway.

This weekend I’m going to make my first one-minute video, so look forward to that. It should be pretty fun. I’m having one of my friends help me out with the script and stuff because when I try to be funny, I’m so very not funny, and when I say whatever pops into my head, I’m hilarious, apparently.

An experiment

I tried out a free press release website to announce the re-branding/second edition of my first book, Catching the Rose. If you’d like to win a free copy, comment on this entry about who you are and why you’re following my blog in particular.

I will pick two winners to receive a coupon code to receive Catching the Rose for free. Everyone else who comments will receive a coupon code to receive the book for a dollar, if you so choose. So make sure you submit a valid email address!

So this weekend will be dedicated to working on the video, as well as writing the next couple of chapters to make up for the lack of writing this week. I’m pretty excited. Things are definitely ramping up.

Worderella Needs a Hero (aka Book Cover Designer)

Really, the two are interchangeable at this point. I need both a hero and a book cover designer. You see, I’m self-publishing my book and I’m doing as much of it myself as I can. Why? Well, because I just graduated from grad school and I have loans to take care of, thank you. I’m also a creative; I take pride in doing things and have an aptitude to learn new talents fairly quickly.

Book cover layout, however, continues to elude me, much to my frustration. The problem is that I want an industry-standard-style book, something along the lines of Silent in the Sanctuary, or The Slightest Provocation, or The Deception of the Emerald Ring. Those covers have stock imagery that I can’t afford. I suppose I could commission an artist to draw my character in a similar style, but how many artists these days like to be so… classical?

My process

I’ve been collecting my favorite covers as I see them on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com for the last, oh, I don’t know, three years. I have them separated by category: Fiction, Romance, and Teen, since those are my three main inspirational sources. I know the trends like the back of my hand, but the problem is my book, Haunting Miss Trentwood, doesn’t really fit in a “trend,” per se. How many of you know about a historical romance with paranormal inklings? I can think of one, Amanda Quick’s Arcane Society series. The one I read was Second Sight. But I’ve looked at those covers, and I don’t like them because they don’t get the mood I’m going for.

Anyway, I went to JoAnn Fabrics to buy a fat quarter and some scrapbook paper to, in essence, build my cover from scratch.

I had sketched out the general idea that I wanted, and since I’m crafty with the scissors, I went at it for three hours, running upstairs and down to the copy machine and back to my desk, grabbing my mothers calligraphy pens when I realized I didn’t have brown, and then taking photos of the final result.

Sadness abounds. I didn’t measure properly and my photos came out being the improper size for a trade paperback, which is 5.5″ by 8.5″.


So I went digital. I’d had fun working with real materials, but with that failed, I decided to replicate it digitally.

But then that felt a bit sterile, so I went to istockexchange.com and grabbed some comp photos that I liked and began to play around with layouts.


An improvement, I think, but still not what I want. Why is it so difficult to make a book cover for a book titled Haunting Miss Trentwood? I think because the book touches multiple genres lightly at once. It’s historical fiction because it’s the late Victorian era, specifically, the year of Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. It’s a romance, albeit sweet. It’s a mystery because blackmail is involved. It’s a paranormal because a ghost is involved. With all these injected into one story, I’ve opted to keep the plot itself rather simple, allowing the characters to grow and mature, allowing the reader to enjoy the journey rather than roll their eyes at me for trying to cover too much in one story.

You’re not done writing, why care about the cover?

I’d like to have a cover so I can begin my marketing campaign. Marketing will be the toughest part of this self-publishing journey for me because I’m not a very good schmoozer. I love Twitter and will be utilizing that hardcore. I dislike Facebook, but it’s the lesser of two evils (not having online presence).

Additionally, having a visual of the book inspires me to keep going. I have every intention of completing this book and making it successful, i.e. break even at least. It’s so frustrating because I am a passable artist in my own right… but I’m also a perfectionist, and my artistic skill simply isn’t at the level I prefer for my novel.

Help me, oh mighty Internetz, you’re my only hope

If you’re self-publishing, know someone who is or has, etc, how did you/they find a book cover designer? How did you/they find a reputable artist? What am I doing wrong? Why has my usually stellar Google-fu failed me?

The Benefits of Free

I’ve been reading a lot, recently, about how authors are trying to to convert those “early adopters” over to their writing. Early adopters, if you don’t recognize the term, comes from the early adopters of software. That is, software users who grab the newest version first, decide if they like it, and then tell everyone else how great the software is. Early adopters have a lot of clout in their circles. Get an early adopter on your side, and they will do the majority of your word-of-mouth marketing for you.

As authors, we should aim for the early adopters. But how do we do that?

Well, you can always go to their blogs, websites, etc, and build up a relationship with them. This is the nicest way to go about it, and takes the most time. You can visit their blogs and ask them, without knowing them, to review your work… and I wish you good luck with that one.

It seems to me that free things seem to work, most of the time. But what can authors give for free?

We can give away what we do best: our work. MJ Rose is a huge proponent of giving away our work to gain new readers. And she would know, having left advertising to write full time. This is one of those things were you really need to worry about copyright infringement, though. If you’re published by someone else, you need to read your contract carefully and make sure you can give away a portion of the work.

So why give things away for free? Because people love free things! It spreads a sense of goodwill. It gives your reader a taste test so they can get a feel for your style. And, if they really like your work, they’ll buy your book, whether you give it away for free or not.

MJ Rose definitely got me with The Reincarnationist. I began the book by reading the free download she offered a month ago. But honestly, I hate reading on a computer, even while I loved reading her book. So… I bought the book. I knew I was loving it, so why not go for the investment?

You can use this to your advantage, as well…

  • Have a contest on your blog where your top commenters can read an advance copy of your work.Your blog commenters/readers are your early adopters, and if they have blogs of their own, they will be the first to spread the good news of your newest work.
  • Or perhaps have your top commenters act as your beta readers. I did this with my first two chapters for an assignment in my graduate program. Not only did I get wonderful feedback, but it seemed like everyone involved really enjoyed it.
  • Offer the first couple of chapters of your book as a free download on your website once it’s released. In this day and age, everyone wants a taste test, and this is your opportunity to give it to them.
  • Offer a discount to your blog commenters. Reward your friends for sticking with you through the hard times!

What other things can you think of to give away for free that you think would really snag those hard-to-reach readers?

Marketing Through an Author Website

For some reason, most author websites are awful. This is probably because authors don’t have the time, money, or inclination to put a lot of effort into a good website design. Unfortunately, many (if not all) agents suggest that authors, aspiring or not, should have a website. But what are you supposed to put up there, anyway?

Content for your Author Website

There are five main sections every author website should probably have, if you include the (always optional) blog:

  1. About the author
  2. Blog
  3. Writing
  4. Press kit
  5. Contact the author

Your author biography should include the generics such as the school you went to, some of your interests that make you interesting as a writer (I do t’ai chi and yoga before/after writing sessions, for example), and a short paragraph about your current work. This is a good place to announce you’re seeking representation, as well.

Each book you’ve written should have a press release that summarizes the book and gives reasons why someone should buy it. Everything in the press kit should have a PDF/downloadable version so reporters can print a copy for later use.

In your writing section, each book should have a cover picture and the back cover blurb. An excerpt is always nice, but check your contract first to make sure you’re allowed to do that. Additional content such as your favorite sentence, the backstory behind writing the book, a list of research references, etc., are all great to include on your website.

Make sure you have a way for your readers to contact you. If an agent stumbles across your website/blog and decides they like what they see, you’ll never know about it without providing a contact form, at the very least.

Designing your Author Website

Keep in mind that other people have to look at your website, so while your favorite colors may be pink and green, do not, I repeat, do not, put pink text on a green background, or vice versa.

All text should be a dark color on a suitably white-ish background. It is what we’re used to reading, and anything else causes headaches. The point of your website is to maintain interest, and you can’t maintain interest if you’re giving your audience headaches.

Keep your genre in mind when picking your color scheme/design. If you’re romance, you might want to stick with the warmer colors such as tan, pink, red, purple, etc. If you’re science fiction, the cool colors such as blue, white, green, and black evoke technology. These rules can be broken, but let the professional break the rules for you. You don’t know the rules, most likely, so you won’t know the correct ones to break.

Use images to spice up the design, but again, make sure your images correlate to your genre/theme. It’s beyond confusing when a science fiction author has puppies all over her website. Unless it turns out her science fiction books are about an alien race of puppies sent to take over the earth, a là Kal-el from Krypton.

Keep your content fresh either by having a blog, or by updating your website with mini-articles, poems, short stories, your art projects, etc. If you decide to have a blog, try to have a unique theme. I don’t need more competition when it comes to writing blogs. (I’m joking, I’m joking. Not really, though.)

If possible, have an XML sitemap so search engines know how to find and index your content. You may need to get a professional’s help with that one, but Google provides a free service.

And since I know you must be a little curious, I’ve finally updated my website, complete with press kit, updated author bio, contact form, and additions to the writing section which now includes poetry, some of my old short stories, and my guest article for Graham Carter. Yes, I did design and code the entire thing by hand. Feel free to critique me; I’m always looking for ways to improve.

If you’d like a website of your own but don’t know how to begin, send me a line. For more information about navigation, specifically, read the AuthorMBA’s blog post on the subject.