How to become a best-selling Amazon author, and other secrets — ALWAYS

Twenty, established, Phoenix-area writers met for lunch at the Alliance of Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) gathering on March 12, 2015, in Phoenix. Here’s what happened.


At our tribe meeting, Deborah Brown, co-owner of Peters & Brown Multimedia Marketing & Publishing, shared five “amazing” book marketing tactics to reach Amazon best-seller status and build a book platform. Here they are:

ALWAYS members absorb Deborah's valuable marketing tips.

ALWAYS members absorb Deborah’s valuable marketing tips. (Photo by Eduardo Cervino.)

1. Start with the end in mind, to sell at least 1,000 ebooks in your category at a discount.

Her ideas included tips like:

  • Make sure your ebook tile and subtitle include your keywords.
  • Sell the book for $.99.
  • Use all four category designations available: two for print, two for Kindle.

2. Build your platform first

  • Start blogging about your book before it’s written.
  • Create lead pages to separate raving fans from others.
  • Follow Debbie Macomber and John Locke as great role models.
  • Use Pinterest for authors, linking to your blog.
  • Offer a multi-author box set.

3. Nurture your FLASH mob, perhaps starting with a campaign for crowd funding. Your mob includes:

  • Friends and family
  • Loyal clients and customers
  • Able and willing well-wishers
  • Selected partners
  • Hand-picked ambassadors

4. Capture leads on launch day.

  • Amazon does not identify who buys your book, so pre-market the launch date on a separate book-deal Web page, where you can capture contact info.

5. Keep marketing after your launch.

  • Do talk shows like Deborah’s “Boomer and the Babe” podcast.
  • Do something every day.

You can’t possibly get the scope of all of Deborah’s good ideas just from these highlights, so I encourage you to find the full version of her handout under the Files link on the ALWAYS Facebook page, or to contact her.

Watch our ALWAYS Facebook page for details on our next gathering on April 9, 2015 (we meet on the second Thursday of the month).

Do you have an idea for a topic or speaker? Maybe some information you need to help you move forward? Perhaps you or someone you know has some great author-related info to relate? Recommend away!

…………………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth
avidean@videanunlimited.com

Author secrets—from world-building to a writers’ residence exchange—ALWAYS

Our November 2014 tips from established writers attending the
Alliance of Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) gathering.
Read ’em and reap.

I was asked by one of the ALWAYS authors to share some world-building tips with our tribe, on the heels of publishing my new fantasy adventure Song of the Ocarina.

For a copy of my handout, visit the Files link on the ALWAYS Facebook page. Here are the high-level points from my wee presentation*:

1. Pick a unique idea or set of ideas to frame the world.
Mine centered around:

  • Noel Stone, newly Noble Fae, musician, and sometime sheep shearer. Image by John Taylor. ©2013 VUPublishing

    Noel Stone, newly Noble Fae, musician, and sometime sheep shearer. Image by John Taylor. ©2013 VUPublishing

    Noel, a 6-1/2′ tall character who came to me in a dream

  • A New Zealand-type realm influenced by the Maori culture
  • Fae names:
    • Noble Fae all natural (Lark, Glenn, B’rook)
    • Dark Fae based on burned-out rock stars (Mikk, Kert, Axyl)

2. Rules – establish logical rules for your world (especially putting limitations around magic, or developing cultural activities)

3. Rituals – structure a set of set activities in the world’s culture (greetings, birthdays, weddings/funerals, art/music, sports)

4. Power – develop a series of hierarchies (government, education, communities)

5. Place – more than setting, describe the place from a character’s perspective

* Malinda Lo’s blog provided world-building inspiration for my comments.

Additional tips from our authors:

  • Support indie authors by buying their books rather than sharing or free downloads. Your support means they can continue creating the stories you love.
  • Looking for a place to write? Check out Poets & Writerswriter’s residency exchange. I am SO excited about learning more about this!
  • The 3-Day Novel Contest. This writing challenge  has happened every Labor Day weekend since 1977. “Entrants pre-register, grit their teeth, lock their doors and try to produce a literary masterwork in 72 short hours. A panel of experienced judges reads the results and the winning novel is published.
  • To see what readers like about a genre, look at Amazon reviews about similar books.
  • Write a series rather than a one-off. Consider making the first book in the series Perma-free (permanently free ) on Amazon to allow readers to sample your writing and get hooked on the series.
  • Read Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them, by Francine Prose
  • Write more than you read about writing. Ah, the temptation!

…………………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth
avidean@videanunlimited.com

Create a compelling world to attach readers to your story – ALWAYS

This image of Queenstown, NZ, captures the feeling of my characters' magical world in "Song of the Ocarina." I'll talk about a starting point like this when creating a powerful fictional world, at our Nov. 13 established writers' lunch meeting – ALWAYS. @2008 ANVidean

This image of Queenstown, NZ, captures the feeling of my characters’ magical world in my “Song of the Ocarina” novel. I’ll talk about a starting point like this when creating a powerful fictional world, at our Nov. 13 established-writers’ lunch meeting – ALWAYS.
@2008 ANVidean

TOPIC: World-building in fiction.

How do you go about creating the world in which your characters move around in a novel? By request, your host Ann Videan will present ideas on this topic, having just finished creating a whole new realm for her Delfaerune Rhapsody series.

Next gathering:
Thursday Nov. 13, 2014
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
(ALWAYS meets on the second Thursday of the month.)

Where:
Romeo’s Euro Café
(downtown GIlbert, AZ)
207 N. Gilbert Rd. #105
Gilbert, Arizona 85234
(480) 962-4224

Back-up location:
Joe’s BBQ
301 N. Gilbert Rd.
Gilbert, AZ 85234
(480) 503-3805

Cost:
A writing tip, and your own lunch.

RSVP:
PLEASE show the consideration of reserving your spot at the table by:
• RSVPing through the “Join” link on our Facebook Event page
or
• Contacting Ann Videan, avidean@videanunlimited.com

If you’ve RSVP’d, please SHOW UP. If you run into a conflict, please let me know BEFORE the event so I can make the necessary adjustments for the group meeting. Cheers!
…………………………………………………………….

ABOUT ALWAYS

• Need contacts to help your writing?
• Want advice about your writing?
• Like to hang with other cool writers?

If so, our tribe – the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) – is the place for you. We’re an informal group of established writers looking for camaraderie, ideas, enlightenment and connection with writers, especially in the Phoenix metro area, to talk about our craft and businesses.

Any established writer can connect with us online through our ALWAYS Facebook page, get listed in our directory of writers on our ALWAYS LinkedIn page, or you can meet with us in person at a lunch meeting. We’d love to have any experienced writer join us at our next meeting … anyone who spends a significant part of his/her week writing, and wants to rub elbows with other writers.

Authors share more writing secrets—ALWAYS

"sugar covers" for book publicity

We share lots of fun marketing ideas—like the book review process— at ALWAYS. One of my favorite ideas involves using the author’s skills… like this amazing “sugar cover” work by pastry chef and author L.H. Nicole.

Judith Starkson, author of Hand of Fire, shared some solid tips on working with book reviewers at our Oct. 9 gathering of the Alliance of Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS). Our other members also shared valuable ideas for the benefit of writers everywhere. 🙂

A couple of top tips from Judith:

  • Build your community months, even years, before your book is published
    –  Start following select bloggers and authors in your genre
    – Participate in those communities with valuable information
    – Bloggers and reviewers’ sites typically list other blogs they like and support, so you can send your info elsewhere.
  • To earn reviews for a specific book,  start four to six months before publication. With your query, send:
    – A “killer” book blurb
    – Advance praise (testimonials) are key– Strong cover art
    – Professional materials: author photo, press release, an email service like Constant Contact or MailChimp
  • Never respond to negative reviews or leave snarky comments online, and promote others.

Other ideas you can use, from our group:

  • Choosy Bookworm advertises a book to potential reviewers. For $50 you can reach 10,000 reviewers.
  • Fiverr is a good resource for artwork of any kind at $5 per piece. These hungry artists are willing to do art for this price because they want to meet people and develop relationships. Pay five of these folk to do your book cover, a total of $25, and you get five choices.
  • To get media coverage more easily, make sure to use two meaningful quotes from experts other than yourself, in addition to covering the who, what, why, when, where and how. Find out the name and spelling of the editor of your paper’s local edition.

What additional writing tip can you share with us?

…………………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth
avidean@videanunlimited.com

More key writing secrets from established authors – ALWAYS

Even if you missed our September 2014 Alliance of Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) gathering, you can still benefit from several established writers’ top writing and publishing secrets.

A former ALWAYS gathering with Karen Mueller Bryson, Megan Scott, Laurie Fagen, Mallary Tytel, and Ann Videan. Our handful of established authors meets once a month to discuss topics affecting our writing.

A former ALWAYS gathering with Karen Mueller Bryson, Megan Scott, Laurie Fagen, Mallary Tytel, and Ann Videan. Our handful of established authors meets once a month to discuss topics affecting our writing.

An especially large thank you to Karen Mueller Bryson, who shared all her expertise and knowledge about publishing your own books and others’. Invaluable!

Additional gratitude, for sharing other great tips, goes to Karen, Laurie Fagen, Paul McNeese, Shelley Gillespie, Wendy Fallon, and our new friend Patricia. Read their tips and reap:

1. Keep your book cover art blurb to only a few sentences. Readers want concise summaries. Plus, remember to write your back cover for the book buyer (publisher), not the reader, when pitching.

2. Just write! The most important thing you can do to become a better, more prolific, and well-known author is to set aside time every day to write. Religiously!

3. Check out The Passive Voice blog, “A Lawyer’s Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing.”

4. Look into the Editor’s Toolkit software, providing tools for editing in Microsoft Word.

5. For an example of a indie self-publisher success story using serial fiction, look up Hugh Howey. Per Amazon, “He is the author of the award-winning Molly Fyde Saga and the New York Times and USA Today bestselling WOOL series. The WOOL OMNIBUS won Kindle Book Review’s 2012 Indie Book of the Year Award.”

5. Inform readers about your sales. Buy ads on bookseller sites—Bookbub, Book Gorilla, BookSends, etc.—to help position your book for bestseller status. It’s relatively easy, especially if you can categorize in a small niche market, and not horribly expensive.

6. See ProofOfExistence.com. This independent online service offers a copyright proof level between your own statement of copyright and that obtained from the U.S. Copyright Office.

7. From BureauOfCommunication, send fun “Mad-Libs”-type forms to friends and co-workers. Fill out a “Airing a Greivance,” “Statement of Gratitude,” “Unsolicited Feedback,” or other crazy-cool online forms.

8. You are not the best editor of your work. Let go. Fresh eyes can make your book better.

Some great ideas. What writing tip can you share with us here?

…………………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth
avidean@videanunlimited.com

Prepare for perfect publishing — ALWAYS

ID-10029251Join us for the September 2014 gathering of the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS).

Our discussion will center around everything you want to know about self-publishing your books and others’. Karen Mueller Bryson, multi-published author and publisher of Short On Time Books, will share her best practices at our gathering. She’ll  have back-up from other self-published authors and literary consultants in the group as well.

Buy your own lunch, share a tip, and reap the rewards of our informal get-together with other established authors.

Next gathering:
Thursday Sept. 11, 2014
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
(ALWAYS meets on the second Thursday of the month.)

Where:
Romeo’s Euro Café
(downtown GIlbert, AZ)
207 N. Gilbert Rd. #105
Gilbert, Arizona 85234
(480) 962-4224

Back-up location:
Joe’s BBQ
301 N. Gilbert Rd.
Gilbert, AZ 85234
(480) 503-3805

Cost:
A writing tip, and the price of your own lunch.

RSVP:
PLEASE show the consideration of reserving your spot at the table by:
• RSVPing through the “Join” link on our Facebook Event page
or
• Contacting Ann Videan, avidean@videanunlimited.com

If you’ve RSVP’d, please SHOW UP. If you run into a conflict, please let me know BEFORE the event so Ann can make the necessary adjustments for the group meeting. Cheers!
…………………………………………………………….

ABOUT ALWAYS

• Need contacts to help your writing?
• Want advice about your writing?
• Like to hang with other cool writers?

If so, our tribe – the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) – is the place for you. We’re an informal group of established writers looking for camaraderie, ideas, enlightenment and connection with writers, especially in the Phoenix metro area, to talk about our craft and businesses.

Any established writer can connect with us online through our ALWAYS Facebook page, get listed in our directory of writers on our ALWAYS LinkedIn page, or you can meet with us in person at a lunch meeting. We’d love to have any experienced writer join us at our next meeting … anyone who spends a significant part of his/her week writing, and wants to rub elbows with other writers.

Eight top writing and vocabulary secrets from established authors – ALWAYS

At our Alliance of Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) gathering this week, five established writers shared their top writing secrets and vocabulary words for this month. Now you can benefit from them, too!

  1. Find font symbols
  2. Write every day
  3. Find speaking opportunities
  4. Create an em-dash
  5. Association for mystery writer
  6. Product placement in books
  7. Vocabulary suggestions
  8. A.Word.A.Day link
Visualize Your Vocabulary, Shayne Gardner

Visualize Your Vocabulary, Shayne Gardner

1. Shayne Gardner — who just published Visualize Your Vocabulary: Turn Any SAT Word into a Picture and Remember It Forever (Volume 1) with illustrations by Kris Hagen — provided a tip about finding special font symbols on a computer.

According to Microsoft Word’s help function, “You can use the Symbol dialog box to insert symbols, such as ¼ and ©, or special characters, such as an em dash (—) or ellipsis (…) that are not on your keyboard, as well as Unicode characters.” Here’s how.

Emma Dilemma series, Patricia Hermes

Emma Dilemma series, Patricia Hermes

2. Patricia Hemes, a multi-published author of the Emma Dilemma series among others, suggested simply that if you want to be a writer, you need to set time to write every day.

3. She also asked about speaking opportunities in the Phoenix area, and we suggested she contact the National Speakers Association headquartered in Tempe, Ariz.

4. Laurie Fagen, co-author in SoWest: Crime Time, a  Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter Anthology (Volume 5), led us to a discussion about dashes. We differentiated these, and shared how to create them in Microsoft Word:

  • Hyphen (-), used to connect words
  •  En-dash (–), for connection ranges or dates
  • Em-dash (—), what most people call simply a “dash,” signifying a break in a thought or longer pause or interruption in dialogue
SoWest: Crime Time anthology, Laurie Fagen

SoWest: Crime Time anthology, Laurie Fagen

5. By the way, Laurie is the current president of the Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths. This association for mystery writers meets the third Wednesday of the month at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in downtown Scottsdale, Ariz.

6. Ann Videan (that’s me), author of Rhythms & Music women’s novel and soundtrack, and The Delfaerune Rhapsody series, suggested authors look into product placement in your books to develop additional revenue streams. She explained that this simply involves mentioning brand names in your story and approaching the company about supporting the book for its publicity value to them. She recommended this HowStuffWorks article to learn more.

Song of the Ocarina, Ann Videan

Song of the Ocarina, Ann Videan (book 1 of the Delfaerune Rhapsody series)

7. Our topic, vocabulary, helped unveiled several new fun words or phrases we can can all incorporate into our writing.

  • brilliant: popular in the United Kingdom, meaning cool, great, or an outstanding performance, concept, or product
  • mind the gap: a  phrase to warn passengers to be careful while crossing the gap between the train door and the station platform.
  • go to the loo: an informal, more polite way of saying you’re headed to the bathroom, or going to the toilet

(From these first three, can you tell Laurie just returned from a trip to Europe?)

  • kerfuffle: disturbance or fuss
  • ostentatious: fancy, showing off wealth of knowledge to gain attention
  • ambitious: desiring to be successful, famous, or powerful; not easily done or achieved
  • grawlixes: typographical symbols standing for profanities, appearing in dialogue balloons in place of actual dialogue
  • ar·sy–var·sy: backside forward, head over heels, topsy-turvy
  • interrobang: a printed punctuation mark (‽), available only in some typefaces, designed to combine the question mark (?) and the exclamation point (!), indicating a mixture of query and interjection
  • histrionic: over-the-top melodramatic or theatrical
  • opprobrious: expressing scorn or criticism
  • disconcert: unsettle, disturb the composure of

(These last three are Shayne’s favorites from his new vocab book. Weren’t we lucky to have him attend today and share such cool words?)

8. For an introduction to a new word every day, complete with pronunciations, Laurie suggested subscribing to Wordsmith.org’s A.Word.A.Day.

Care to add your own tips or favorite words?

…………………..

Your Top Three Secret Words – ALWAYS

Sedona raindrop

What word would perfectly describe this photo? I call it “Blustery Sedona Raindrop.”  Does it bring to mind one of your favorite words? A secret word that always describes a mood or action, or brings to mind a special setting? Come share your perfect words at our next ALWAYS gathering in downtown Gilbert, AZ… you’ll help other established writers build their vocabularies.

 

Topic:
Let’s get some vocabulary growth going at our established writers’ gathering. What are your top “magic” words to use, or you would like to use, in your writing? Come share your favorites with other established writers.

Next gathering:
THURSDAY, Aug 14, 2014
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
(ALWAYS meets on the second Thursday of the month.)

Where:
PLEASE NOTE LOCATION
Romeo’s Euro Café
(downtown GIlbert, AZ)
207 N. Gilbert Rd. #105
Gilbert, Arizona 85234
(480) 962-4224

Back-up location:
Joe’s Real BBQ
301 N. Gilbert Rd.
Gilbert, AZ 85234
(480) 503-3805

Cost:
A writing tip, and your own lunch.

RSVP:
PLEASE show the consideration of reserving your spot at the table by:
• RSVPing through the “Join” link on our Facebook Event page
or
• Contacting Ann Videan, avidean@videanunlimited.com

If you’ve RSVP’d, please SHOW UP. If you run into a conflict, please let Ann know BEFORE the event so I can make the necessary adjustments for the group meeting. Cheers!
…………………………………………………………….

ABOUT ALWAYS

• Need contacts to help your writing?
• Want advice about your writing?
• Like to hang with other cool writers?

If so, our tribe – the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) – is the place for you. We’re an informal group of established writers looking for camaraderie, ideas, enlightenment and connection with writers, especially in the Phoenix metro area, to talk about our craft and businesses.

Any established writer can connect with us online through our ALWAYS Facebook page, get listed in our directory of writers on our ALWAYS LinkedIn page, or you can meet with us in person at a lunch meeting. We’d love to have any experienced writer join us at our next meeting … anyone who spends a significant part of his/her week writing, and wants to rub elbows with other writers.

Key insider tips on formatting a readable book interior – ALWAYS author roundtable

interior book formatting on Rhythms & Muse. Photo: @2014 ANVidean

I did my own interior book formatting on Rhythms & Muse using MS Word, and can’t wait to gain some additional tips from Caren Cantrell, founder and CEO of 102nd Place, at our next ALWAYS meeting, May 8. Photo: @2014 ANVidean

Do you want a resource to help you with your book’s layout? Caren Cantrell, founder and CEO of 102nd Place, who formats book interiors using MS Word for clients self-publishing through Createspace or Kindle. She joins us at our ALWAYS roundtable discussion in May to share her insider tips.

Phoenix, AZ-area established authors, feel free to join us! Please RSVP.

Next gathering:
THURSDAY, May 8, 2014
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

(ALWAYS meets on the second Thursday of each month.)

Where:
PLEASE NOTE LOCATION
Romeo’s Euro Café
(downtown Gilbert, AZ)
207 N. Gilbert Rd. #105
Gilbert, Arizona 85234
(480) 962-4224

Back-up location:
Joe’s BBQ
301 N. Gilbert Rd.
Gilbert, AZ 85234
(480) 503-3805

Cost:  A writing tip, and your own lunch.

RSVP:  PLEASE show the consideration of reserving your spot at the table by RSVPing through the “Join” link on our ALWAYS Facebook Event page or contacting Ann Videan.
If you’ve RSVP’d, please SHOW UP. If you run into a conflict, please let me know BEFORE the event so I can make the necessary adjustments for the group meeting. Cheers!

So, what’s your best tip for creating an excellent interior book layout?

ABOUT ALWAYS

  • Need contacts to help your writing?
  • Want advice about your writing?
  • Like to hang with other cool writers?

If so, our tribe – the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) – is the place for you. We’re an informal group of established writers looking for camaraderie, ideas, enlightenment and connection with writers, especially in the Phoenix metro area, to talk about our craft and businesses.

Any established writer can connect with us online through our ALWAYS Facebook page, get listed in our directory of writers on our ALWAYS LinkedIn page, or you can meet with us in person at a lunch meeting. We’d love to have any experienced writer join us at our next meeting…anyone who spends a significant part of his/her week writing, and wants to rub elbows with other writers

Authors, generate outrageous readership-building ideas, ALWAYS

Celestial Seasonings tea bags create this dress and its accessories. If you wore this, would people talk about it? Duh. So, what creative idea can you come up with to get people talking about your book? We'll brainstorm ideas together at our next ALWAYS authors lunch. Photo: ©2013 ANVidean

Celestial Seasonings tea bags create this dress and its accessories. If you wore this, would people talk about it? Duh. So, what creative idea can you come up with to get people talking about your book? We’ll brainstorm ideas together at our next ALWAYS authors lunch. Photo: ©2013 ANVidean

Topic for our gathering:
“Marketing Outside The Book: Outrageous Ideas to Build Readership:” a brainstorming session

At our next authors’ Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) gathering in Tempe, AZ, I’ll lead a mini brainstorm to generate unique ideas to entice readers to buy your book. I’ve conducted thousands of hours of marketing strategy sessions with entrepreneurs and authors to generate “out-of-the-circle” ideas to make people want to chat you up. I assure you, you’ll leave the meeting with at least one powerful idea to use immediately.
– Ann

When:
Thurs., Sept. 12, 2013
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
(Due to a concentration of writers’ meetings the last week of each month, ALWAYS will meet now on second Thursdays.)

Where:
Tea Infusion
2000 E Rio Salado Pkwy # 1064
Tempe, AZ 85281-4927
(480) 967-1141
(I am taking suggestions for another meeting place at or near Tempe Marketplace.)

Cost:
A writing tip, and your own lunch.

RSVP:
PLEASE show the consideration of reserving your spot at the table by:
• RSVPing through the “Join” link on our Facebook Event page
or
• Contacting Ann Videan, avidean@videanunlimited.com

If you’ve RSVP’d, please SHOW UP. If you run into a conflict, please let me know BEFORE the event so I can make the necessary adjustments for the group meeting. Cheers!

…………………………………………………………….
ABOUT ALWAYS
• Need contacts to help your writing?
• Want advice about your writing?
• Like to hang with other cool writers?
The Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) is an informal group of established fiction and nonfiction writers in the Phoenix area who want to support each other’s work, share ideas and best practices, and just discuss writing topics. I’ve led this group since 2006.
Any established writer can connect with us online through our ALWAYS Facebook page, get listed in our directory of writers on our ALWAYS LinkedIn page, or you can meet with us in person at a lunch meeting. We’d love to have any experienced writer join us at our next meeting … anyone who spends a significant part of his/her week writing, and wants to rub elbows with other writers.