Routines For Writer’s Ebook

Routines for Writers was a blog started by three aspiring authors who wanted to help other writers create routines to make writing easier. Since then, two of us are now published, and one went back to school!

If you look around, you’ll see there is so much great content on here, but unfortunately it gets buried in this blog format.

This summer as Kitty is teaching a self-publishing class (more info to come on that) I (Shonna) will be using the Routines for Writers blog as source material to put into practice what I am learning in her course.

If you are interested in a free copy of the Routines for Writers ebook when it comes out, sign up here and  you will be among the first to know when it is available. It will only be free to those who are on the list!

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Flash Sale on Cinderella’s Dress: Only 99 cents

red-banner sale
Limited Time only Cinderella’s Dress ebook only 99c

Who is in the mood for some Cinderella fun? With the new Disney movie coming out this weekend I’m seeing Cinderella everywhere. So I asked my publisher at Entangled Teen if we could join the party and put my book on sale. They came back with the idea for a one-week 99 cent sale.

So, how is the sale affecting sales? Well, I don’t have access to the timely stats like the self-published authors do, but people are scooping it up. My book has popped back up on a few Amazon lists, where it used to be when it first released back in June 2014. That’s a good sign.

A sale is a great way to get your book in front of readers again. It’s a marketing campaign. Instead of purchasing advertising, you are cutting the price!

At 99c potential readers are willing to take a chance on a new author, and at a limited time, they have to act quickly or lose out. So what are you waiting for? There’s a buy button on the sidebar that will take you to your online bookstore of choice. Sale ends on Monday. Enjoy!

The Cinderella Interviews

Creating videos is something that takes practice. There are so many little steps to remember and if you don’t produce regularly, you forget! Like when I upload a video to Youtube, which of the kazillion export options is the one I’m supposed to use? And whoops, now that the video has gone public and started getting views, I realize I used the old “outro” without the preview of the last video. Oh well. An annotation can still do the job, just not as elegantly.

For my Cinderella Interviews series, I’ve been using Google Hangouts to interview other authors who have written Cinderella fairy-tale retellings. In this latest example, Marissa Meyer was passing through town on her Fairest book tour so I took the Cinderella Interviews on a special road trip to the Lunar Ball. It was a fun way to shake up the series and refresh some of my video-editing techniques (as well as my on-call teen son’s editing skills.)

I bought a new camera and this was its first test. However, I about had a heart attack when I went to play back the interview and the time stamp showed 30 secs. What? It was supposed to be a few minutes!!! Did I do that thing that all dad’s do: press record at the wrong time and only record my feet after the interview was over? *dies*

But no, the interview was there. I could breathe again. I must have misread the time stamp.

I’m still learning to use the camera, and I was very pleased with the quality of the video. However, when I uploaded it to Youtube, it lost some of it’s crispness. I’ll have to play with my export settings and find the one that works best with my new camera. Baby steps.

I Finally Talked Her Into It! Google Hangouts On Air

For months now I’ve been trying to get Kitty to go On Air with me. She’s a natural-born teacher, so I think she could do a lot with video to help other writers. And today was the day! I don’t know if she got tired of me hounding her, or what, but we went live together for the first time.

With Google Hangouts on Air, you don’t have to have any fancy equipment or programs. All you need is a YouTube account (if you are the one doing the recording), webcam, and the free Google Hangout app installed on your computer. The On Air part of Hangouts starts recording when you hit the Broadcast button and automatically adds the video to your YouTube channel.

You can get even fancier by creating an Event, where you can invite people to watch live. I tried that once when I interviewed my editor and it was a little nerve-wracking. I knew people were watching (you can see a count of the numbers) and comments were being added, but being so new to Hangouts, I wasn’t adept enough at multi-tasking to engage the audience. Something I’ll need to practice.

So at the end of this post is our first Video Chat. We talk about Hangouts and I show off a little bit of VideoMaker FX, which is the program I used to make our snazzy “intro” and “outro.” I thought it was a lot of fun, and I’m game to do some more. Kitty?

Kitty’s Take
I have to admit, I’ve been wanting to try this for a year or so, but I was either genuinely too busy or sometimes I just chickened out. It’s hard to see yourself on video and not focus on all the things you don’t like! Haha!

But we decided, if we didn’t completely embarrass ourselves, we would make the video live (not delete it, which is always a tempting option), and give you some notes about how to get started yourself. These are the things I learned while doing the video and after watching it a couple of times.

  1. Don’t talk or laugh or say “Uh-huh” or make any noise when the other person is talking if we don’t want the video to flash back and forth between us all the time. Sometimes it’s a nice editing cut without having to actually edit it. But too much is just distracting.
  2. Don’t move my hands in front of the screen. They show up as a blur, also distracting. I don’t know what that means for me for future videos since I talk with my hands!
  3. Don’t move my head around so much. In my normal relaxed state, I move a lot when I’m talking (see note about my hands). Shonna looked much more professional sitting still. Though I’m not sure how to look relaxed and also be still. Haha!
  4. If I think there is any chance that “let’s play around with making a video” will become “let’s post this video on our web site,” I need to do it AFTER I’ve colored my hair! 😉
  5. Get new glasses! LOL! The reason I’m moving my head at such funny angles is that I need new glasses and I haven’t gotten around to making an appointment. Wow, do I look fairly ridiculous!

After reading my take on making our first Google Hangouts on Air video with Shonna, you may come to a variety of conclusions. One, do a couple of trial recordings before actually posting a video that everyone can see. Two, make sure you do a video with someone less put together than yourself so you come out looking better. (Shonna won, I lost. 😀 ) Three, just don’t try it at all. [Shonna’s note: It is awkward to see yourself on video. I read Kitty’s comments here and went “What is she talking about? She’s being way too critical of herself.” I always feel like a bit of a dork on video. The key is to not over-think it or you risk paralyzing yourself and never doing another one.]

You can choose number one or number two, but don’t choose door number three!

Let us know what you think of our first video. Chances are pretty good we’ll try to do some more.

 

 

 

The Debut Book Launch Party

Debut Book Launch Party ideasShould you or shouldn’t you host a book launch party? I have to admit, as a debut author, this was the promotion event that scared me the most. Yet, it was one of the first events I scheduled. As soon as I had a pub date, I introduced myself to my local independent bookstore and asked about setting up a launch party. Looking back, it was one of the best things I could have done for my career.

Seriously? One of the best?

For me. Yes.

My book launch party was a domino that knocked over a whole lot of other dominoes. Dominoes I had no idea about until they started moving.

1. Introverts Anonymous

Being a shy introvert is a huge hurdle. At a launch party you have to stand up and give a speech. Just you. About you and your book. Breathe. Deep. Don’t. Die. I have spent pretty much my entire life until now avoiding such a scenario. Fear of public speaking–I got it bad.

Right after talking to the book store folks, I joined Toastmasters. I have love/hate feelings towards this group. Toastmasters is effective. It plain works. However, you have to make it work. The more you throw yourself into the roles, and sign up to give speeches, the faster you progress. Yes, to get over the thing you fear, you have to do the thing you fear. Over and over and over again.

My particular Toastmasters group is amazing. They have a mix of veterans and new members. The feedback is insightful and the support is solid. What’s to fear, right?  *laughs awkwardly*

I wish I would have joined years ago. Through my weekly experience at Toastmasters, I had enough practice before my launch party that I wasn’t throwing up as I had feared. And I had enough presence of mind that I only forgot 1/3 of my speech.

And here is one of the surprising dominoes: Having a launch party forced me to practice public speaking, which has led to an increase in confidence about being a professional writer.

2. Old-fashioned Networking

Are you burned out on social media? It’s time to get out of the house and meet some people face to face. Because I introduced myself early enough to the bookstore, I got an invitation to a YA event months before my book came out. Changing Hands Bookstore introduced me as a “preview” author and I got to practice being on stage with a group of other YA authors at YAllapalooza. (see #1 above; groups are good)

At this event, I received another invitation, and this one completely caught me by surprise. The books and authors manager for Phoenix Comicon was in the audience at YAllapalooza and approached me afterward to talk about being on a panel at Phoenix Comicon the weekend of my book launch. *blink* *blink* YES! How amazing is that?

Surprising Domino #2: Making yourself visible leads to other opportunities.

3. A Time to Celebrate

If you are a debut author, don’t stress out about bringing in a crowd. No one knows you yet, except for the people who have supported you along the journey–your friends and family. They are going to be 99% of the people who show up to your event. (See #1 above–fear not. These are your people; they know you; they support you, don’t be afraid of talking to them!)

More than anything, this is a time to celebrate. You finally have your book! Add a few special touches to make the event memorable for you and fun for your friends, and you can call it a success. Here is what I did. Maybe it will give you some ideas:

  • I added a fundraising option to the night. My novel is YA and I didn’t expect all my friends to be interested in a novel aimed at teens, so this gave them another option for participation. I invited the director of Dress for Success Phoenix to come and talk about the organization and that night we collected handbags for donations. The Phoenix Art Museum was hosting a traveling dress show at the time, and they donated admission tickets for a drawing.
  • My friend and our daughters made a cupcake pull-apart dress cake to match the theme Cinderella’s Dress. It turned out even better than I had imagined.
  • I used the first book I took out of my box of books as a guest book. I signed it to myself, then had everyone at the event sign it, too.
  • My main character learns the art of tatting lace, so my uber-talented friend who taught me how to use a shuttle and thread brought a display of some of her work and demonstrated tatting while I signed books.
  • I made simple tatted bookmarks to hand out as rewards to those who asked questions during Q&A time. As for other swag? Most advice I’ve read says stick with bookmarks. They’re cheap and easy to hand out. And they’re cheap. *did I already say cheap?*

Recently, I interviewed Austin Aslan about his debut launch. He did something I’d never seen in a book launch, which I thought was a great idea for bringing the group together and I wish I’d thought of it! You can watch here:

So, the debut book launch party. Is it worth it? Yes, I think so. In addition to the above, it marks a milestone in your life. It’s a big deal. So make it one.

Finding Time for Book Marketing

Thursdays with Amanda has become one of my go-to places on the web every… well, every Thursday. Amanda Luedeke is an agent with Chip MacGregor Literary and she blogs on Thursdays about book marketing. I think my favorite takeaway I’ve gotten from her so far is the Five-Thing Marketing Rule that she talks about in this guest blog. Be sure to read to the end because she is giving away a copy of her marketing book, The Extroverted Writer. *You’re going to want it.*

 

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM AN AUTHOR WILL FACE

ExtrovertedWriterCoverSmallIt happens to nearly every writer. You have a book idea. You painstakingly try to work writing into your hectic schedule by skipping yoga or unvolunteering from the PTA or waking at the crack of dawn. It’s tough, but eventually you figure it out even if it takes way longer than you’d care to admit.

And then you have a book! And yay!!! Life couldn’t get any better, because now is the part where you get to see what can come of said book. So you attend conferences and send out emails and scour publishing and agent blogs. You do all that you can to figure this author thing out and them WHAM. The word “platform” hits you in the face.

It may not always happen at that point in time…you may get your first book deal or you may receive your first royalty statement before platform becomes your nemesis. Or, it may not be until you look at your Amazon sales rankings or talk with your author friends or realize that things just aren’t going the way you planned.

But it happens…it happens to every writer at some point in his or her career. They realize that it’s not enough to write a book. They realize authors also need to be marketers.

And so you’re faced with the ultimate dilemma, because you’ve already cut out yoga and the PTA and those two precious hours of sleep. You’ve already done what you can to make writing work. And now you have to take even more time away from your family, from your hobbies, from your life, just to market this book…to spend time doing something that you may not even fully understand.

WHY I LIKE TO TALK ABOUT MARKETING

Before working in publishing, I spent some years at a marketing firm. I did social media marketing and copywriting for some major brands. So when I started working in the book industry five years ago, I quickly saw a need to address this very difficult topic. I began blogging every Thursday on the company blog, ChipMacGregor.com. I began teaching about marketing at writers’ conferences. And I wrote an author marketing book…kind of like a foundational tool for using social media to create an author platform and market your product. It’s called The Extroverted Writer.

But despite all of the tips and tricks and ideas, finding the time is still so crucial. Because if you never actually sit down and take the time to do marketing, then marketing won’t ever happen.

So what’s the secret? How can writing be doable without cutting into the other things that are so important?

WRITING-TO-MARKETING RATIO

People often want specifics…they want to know how much time to spend writing versus marketing. So to get us started, here’s what I tell authors:

If you write FICTION and are unpublished: four parts writing to one part marketing/building your brand or platform.

If you write FICTION and are published or have a book coming out: two parts writing to one part marketing/building your brand or platform.

If you write NONFICTION: one part writing to three parts marketing. (Remember, a nonfiction author’s career is entirely built on platform, not words.)

MAKING THE TIME

In practice, the ratios look like this: on the days published fiction authors can only write for 30 minutes, they need to find a mere 15 extra minutes to work on marketing. On the days they can write for three hours, then it’s 1.5 hours of marketing.

Now let’s say that they simply CANNOT find an extra 1.5 hours in their day! When this happens, they merely need to adjust their existing writing time and break it into parts. So, instead of writing for three hours, they’d write for two and market for one.

Simple as that.

BUT WHAT DO I DO?

After hearing the ratios, some writers will tell me that even if they make time for marketing, they end up staring at their computer screens at a loss for where to begin.

There are tons of books that are full of marketing ideas. Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz is one. I like to use mine, The Extroverted Writer, as another example. But for those of you who get overwhelmed by all of the options…or who just can’t figure out how to take an idea and run with it, here’s another tip:

THE FIVE-THING MARKETING RULE

Write down five things…five marketing ideas. They don’t have to be big or expensive or detailed. There just has to be five of them. Your list could look like:

1. Find three blogs that talk about a theme that shows up in my book (ex. Vikings, weight loss, love stories). Save the URLs for future marketing ideas (blog tours, guest posts, comments, etc.)
2. Tweet every day this week.
3. Set up a Goodreads account and/or author page.
4. Research to see what local reader groups are in my area.
5. Find recent Tweets that use #weightloss (or whatever hashtag would apply to your brand/book), and reply to or retweet three of them.

Give yourself a week to complete these steps. Then, write down five more.

This may seem small and inconsequential. You may be thinking:

So what if I’m commenting on two measly blogs! Who cares that I’m Tweeting! No one follows me anyway!

TRUST ME. Great things happen once you start to engage. Once you are consistent about marketing. Give it a try and you’ll realize that your five things take almost no time at all to complete. And soon, instead of doing five things a week, you’ll be doing five lists of five! And you will get more confident. You’ll see results. And more importantly, platform will start to become your friend.

***ENTER MY GIVEAWAY***

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Extroverted Writer by Amanda Luedeke

The Extroverted Writer

by Amanda Luedeke

Giveaway ends August 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

Amanda LuedekeAmanda Luedeke is an agent with MacGregor Literary. Follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or on Facebook. Her marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.

Coffee with Authors: Chris Cannon Going Down in Flames

Meet Chris Cannon, author of the YA novel Going Down in Flames (A Going Down in Flames Novel). She is one of my publishing housemates (is that what we call one another?) at Entangled Publishing. Her book came out his month and she was game to try a Google Hangout on Air with me (and our dogs!)

This is my third try at a Google Hangout on Air. I’m getting less stressed about the technical aspects, and now I need to work on my hosting skills. Where do I look? At the camera–so it looks like I’m looking at the viewer? Or, at my guest on the screen so I know what she is doing? And how do I subtly glance at my notes to see what I’m going to ask next?

If you’ve got a good hosting tip, please leave it for me in the comments!

Want to learn more about Chris Cannon?
Website: http://chriscannonauthor.com/
Twitter: @ccannonauthor

Coffee with Authors: A Google Hangout on Air

So, I took Katie Davis’s Video Idiot Bootcamp course to try to learn how to market to a YA audience who loves videos. Big learning curve on so many levels. But, we have to start somewhere, and here at Routines for Writers, we are all about finding routines that make our writing and marketing lives easier.

After taking the class, I planned to make one new video a month. At the end of the year, I would have twelve videos that would continue to work for me 24/7. That sounded doable. And I am mostly on track to achieve that goal. Sometimes I go 6 weeks between videos. Some of my videos are time-specific, like my newsletter contest that is now over.

I meant to try a variety of videos–webcam; stock photo/video; cartoon, but because of time crunches, ended up with mostly videos of me talking, and one dynamic slide-show type video. Now that my debut month is over, I hope to have more time to try these other kinds of videos.

And always, at the back of my mind, I was trying to think about a routine for content. What could I do to routinely make videos?? So, I came up with this idea: Coffee with Authors, a Google Hangout on Air event.

A Google Hangout on Air is a video conference that is broadcast live, so anyone can watch, and is then recorded to your YouTube channel. You don’t have to have extra screen-capture software as Google takes care of it for you. You can have up to ten people on air with you, although when there are more than two, I think you need to use external microphones to keep out the echoes.

Here is my first Coffee with Authors. I’m hoping the more I do, the more relaxed and natural it will become. Debut YA author Ashlee Willis was a good sport about being my first guinea pig!  I get her talking about painting fairy/gnome doors on trees and she gets me talking about a not-official announcement.

Have you tried a Google On Air? Any do’s and don’ts I should know about?

 

Author/Editor Tell All with Executive Editor Stacy Abrams

Okay, this is it. It’s happening!! I tricked talked one of my editors into doing a Google Plus Hangout on Air with me this Friday, June 13, at 11:00 PST. I want to know why she pulled my book out of the slush. And about a million other things. Stacy is the executive editor of Entangled Teen. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask her, leave them in the comments and we’ll get her talking!

Here is the playback:

Blog Tour with a BONUS Author/Editor Tell All

This is it, my blog tour is in full swing. Check out these stops and be sure to enter the contest. Thanks for hanging with me all these years at Routines for Writers!
Cinderella's-Dress-cover
Prize pack based on items in the book: Signed copy of the book, bookmarks, an amber pendant, a dress-form ornament, tatting shuttle and thread. To enter, just visit any stop along the way and enter the Rafflecopter.
Cinderellas Dress blog tour prizes
Week One:
6/2/2014- Zach’s YA Reviews– Review
6/2/2014- Dark Novella– Excerpt
6/3/2014- Angelic Book Reviews– Review
6/3/2014- Pages From My Thoughts– Interview
6/4/2014- YA Book Madness– Review
6/4/2014- The Cover Contessa– Guest Post
6/5/2014- Crossroad Reviews– Review
6/5/2014- Such a Novel Idea– Guest Post
6/6/2014- The NerdHerd Reads– Review
6/6/2014- Fire and Ice– Excerpt
Week Two:
6/9/2014- Racing To Read- Review
6/9/2014- Paranormal Book Club– Interview
6/10/2014- The Phantom Paragrapher– Review
6/10/2014- Addicted Readers– Guest Post
6/11/2014- Creating Serenity– Review
6/11/2014- Every Free Chance Book Reviews– Interview
6/12/2014- A Backwards Story– Guest Post
6/13/2014- The YA’s Nightstand– Review
6/13/2014- Curling Up With A Good Book– Excerpt
6/13/2014- After the Tour Tell All–Google Hangout on Air 11:00am pst.

Cinderellas dress after the tour header