Writing on the Dark Side?

Writing on the Dark Side?

No. I’m not talking about horror.

I’m talking about the other side of midnight.

When the clock strikes 12 PM and you’re still at the computer.

Why aren’t you all snuggled-up and cozy in your bed?

“Nothing good is going to happen after midnight,” my mother told me decades ago. “Be in by curfew.”

So, do you have a writing curfew? A time at which you may be still physically able to write, but your brain is no longer functioning to its best creative ability?

Yes, there are those times when a brilliant idea comes our way and the creative juices wouldn’t stop flowing even if we did shut down our computer. 

Most of the time, though, our mind and body adopt a certain rhythm and we automatically know when we are the most productive. For me, it’s between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM although I often push it to 4 PM.

Here’s what research says about ways to boost productiveness: 

  1. Keep hydrated.
  2. Take 5 minute breaks every 50 minutes.
  3. Stretch regularly.
  4. Take a break outdoors.
  5. Get in a short nap.
  6. Work standing up for short periods.
  7. Work by a window (natural light).
  8. Take a sniff of peppermint oil.
  9. Drink a cup of coffee with a few drops of coconut oil.

Remaining 2020 Online Conferences/Workshops

 

Covid-19 is changing the way that we have done things. One of the biggest changes is in group gatherings.

Yesterday, I attended my first online writer’s conference. Usually held in person in Arizona, the Desert Sleuth’s Conference was full of information. It was also free. I couldn’t pass up that deal.

They did a good job of everything, from their selection of presenters, topics, advertising, and making their audience feel included and valued.

For the foreseeable future, virtual meetings may be the way to go. So, I compiled this list of remaining conferences you might like to “attend”online this year. (I am sure if you research a bit on your own, you will be able to add to this list).

AGENT ONE-ON-ONE BOOTCAMP: September 22-25. How to Craft Query Letters & Other Submission Materials That Get Noticed Boot Camp.

AUTHOR ADVANTAGE LIVE:   9/24-26

Writing Day Workshops: 

Boston Mass. on 10/3

Philadelphia, PA  on 11/14-15

Washington, D.C. on 12/5

 

SELF PUBLISHING ADVICE CONFERENCE 10/17

JANE FRIEDMAN CLASSES:

Oct. 7: Blogging Strategies That Work in 2020 

Oct. 25: The Foundations of Getting Published 

She has many more affordable online courses available for

  individual study.

WRITERS’ DIGEST ON DEMAND WEBINARS (Sign up and choose your date). These are offered on many topics, including How to Write Short Stories, Writing the Historical Novel, How to Attract an Agent, and many more.

GOTHAM WRITERS’ WORKSHOP: Based in New York, see their online catalog for a listing of workshops and classes.

Setting Up an AMS Account

You are an author, and already have your book(s) on Amazon.

Now, you want to set up an Amazon Marketing Account.

Here is how to go about it:

1.   Go to your author BOOKSHELF to begin.

2. Click on PROMOTE AND ADVERTISE next to your book.

  1. It may prompt you to sign in with your KDP account at this point.
  2. It will then ask you to read Amazon’s advertising agreement and click  ACCEPT AND CONTINUE.
  3. Click on CHOOSE A MARKET PLACE.
  4. Click on CREATE AN AD CAMPAIGN.
  5. Now, hover over the 3 white horizontal lines in the upper left corner of your screen (next to New Campaign heading).
  6. Choose ACCOUNT ACCESS AND SETTINGS. Click on INVITE USER.
  7. Enter the name and email address of the person you want to invite.
  1. Click on RUN AN AD CAMPAIGN.

Choose either:  Editors (if someone else is using the account, like a person you have hired to do marketing) and enter their email address. OR: Administrator (for yourself or someone that you are going to give editor privileges AND the ability to change your payment settings).

10)  Click ADD/REMOVE users; then click INVITE USER.

11)  Go back up to those three horizontal white lines and click on: SET-UP YOUR BILLING AND PAYMENTS. Click on PAYMENT SETTINGS. (Right now, you can only choose credit/debit). Click CONTINUE.

12) Choose ADVERTISER/OWNER, fill in the information, and click SAVE.

*Note: You are done FOR THE MARKET PLACE YOU CHOSE ABOVE IN #5. However, you must repeat this process for each Market Place you would like to advertise in.

Sponsored Product Ads

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Amazon offers four basic ways to advertise products. However, KDP account holders are limited to using just one of them: Sponsored Product Ads.

These ads appear in search results on product pages. They are cost-per-click ads .

After signing in to your KDP Bookshelf, click on Promote and Advertise next to your book’s title. 

You will be given step-by-step directions to write a short “ad” and select how much you are willing to pay each time a prospective buyer clicks on your ad. (Note: This is not per sale. It is per click.)

You will also need to set a max budget for your ad. Once your budget is used, your ad will not show. 

You can renew or rewrite your ad as often as you want.

Bundle Up!

 

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Readers love a good series. They like your characters and want to read more. 

So, you decide to write a series of books with those same characters, setting, and so on.

Amazon says it is smart business to bundle your series because it creates “multiple entry points through which readers can discover your books.” In fact, there are many readers that look, specifically, for a series to read.

So, let’s continue our series for Indie Book Promotions by learning how to link our Kindle Book Series on Amazon:

  1. Create a name for your series. Each book must have exactly the same series name.
  2. On your KDP Bookshelf, edit each book description to link them. After you Login, click the ellipsis button next to the Promote and Advertise button by the title of the first book in your series.
  3. Select edit eBook details and look for SERIES.
  4. Add the series name in the first box, and its number (1,2,3,etc.) in the second box.
  5. Scroll down and click on Save and Continue. Click Publish Your Kindle e-Book.
  6. On the next page, use the same directions for your second book.

Now, the final step: notify Amazon that you have made a series.

Click Help at the top right of the screen. Then, press CONTACT US. Select Product Page. Click on Kindle Series Bundles.

Fill out the contact form, including each book’s ASIN and series name. Then, SEND MESSAGE.

If you write a new book and wish to add it to the series later, use the same form again.

Things to Note:

  1. Your books will still be listed separately on Amazon, too, so the reader can elect to order a single book or or scroll down and order the entire bundle.
  2. HOWEVER, you can’t discount your bundle. So, let’s say you have three, five-dollar books in your bundle. The bundle will cost $15.00 The reader doesn’t save money.
  3. You cannot write a specific description for your series. The description will be the description of the first book in the series. 
  4. Your bundle will only be available on amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.de, and amazon.co.jp.
  5. Above all, remember bundling is only for the Kindle. Not for paperback.

Hopefully, some of these will change, soon!!!

 

Promote Your Book

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Back to our research on book promotions for Indie Authors:

The article I mentioned in my past blog recommended three companies: Books Butterfly, Kindle Nation Daily, and Bargain Booksy.

I went to each of these sites. I scouted around for different promotions, cost, layouts, ease of use, and overall appeal for readers.

Of the three, I found that only https://www.Bargainbooksy.com ticked off all of my boxes.

The other two were unappealing, expensive, and didn’t offer what I wanted for my specific genre. Feel free to visit those websites and check them out. 

I read the general information on Bargain Booksy as well as followed links they supplied for examples, additional information, and customer reviews.

First of all, their site is attractive and fairly straightforward. They supply a handy chart of genres and the cost of advertising for each genre. 

They claim over 305,000 registered users. They also say that a Bargain Booksy feature will help drive sales of your e-book, find a new audience of readers, generate reviews, and improve your book rank on retail sites.

With a paid promotion, your book will be in their daily email of Kindle readers who have expressed an interest in your genre.

They will link your book on Bargainbooksy.com with Kindle, Kobo, Apple, and Nook.

Your promotion will feature your book’s front cover and a short description.

You must price your book between .99 and $5.00 for the length of your promotion. (There are articles that explain how to do this.)

Your book will be in a daily newsletter to over 294K combined subscribers of all genres AND a customized email to readers of your specific genre. [Each with book cover, purchase links, description, and price.]

Additionally, your book will be featured on the Bargain Booksy website and their Facebook Page, which claims 20K followers.

Note: There is a Deal of the Day Premium feature which has different pricing, but it is only for these four genres: Romance, Mystery, Fantasy, and Science Fiction. See their site for details. 

Audiobooks can be promoted on their sister site,  https://ReadingStacks.com 

Choppy Sentences Get More Results

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You can drive more search results to your book when you rewrite the descriptions of your books on Amazon.

Use short, choppy sentences. Leave lots of white space. I have re-written the description for my very first book, Runaways, The Long Journey Home:

No Mama. An abusive father. A dog for a best friend.

Ten-year-old Jake runs away from his remote Appalachian home in the dead of winter.

He and Hound, face freezing temperatures and near starvation as they travel through mountainous terrain.

And, they narrowly escape Father as he tracks them with the very rifle he used to kill Sam and Mama.

Then, when Jake hears about God’s unconditional love for him, he is confronted with the biggest decision of his life:

Will he keep running…

Or face his father?

Hit the USA Today’s Bestseller’s List

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Learn how, along with me:

I’d like to share what I have read so far. (Book Bub has lengthy articles on this. I have condensed it for this blog, but feel free to go on their site for the “expanded” version).

They suggest a concept called PROMO STACKING, which is “running multiple marketing campaigns within a short timeframe to maximize the volume of sales within a bestseller list’s reporting period.”

Here’s my outline from reading on BOOK BUB:

  1. Promo stack during the preorder period.

            a) One month before a book release run a Book Bub Preorder alert. (More about this is to come.)

-or-b) Discount the book during the preorder period, promote on author’s blog, do giveaways, do a Book Bub Ad campaign. (Yes, we’ll learn about these, too).

2) Discount a previous book, along with making the new release only .99 or 1.99. Run a Book Bub Ad campaign.

Put ads on Books Butterfly, Kindle Nation Daily, and Bargain Booksy. Blog. Do an Organic Twitter campaign. (Again, I will be learning about these and passing the information along to you in the coming weeks).

3) Bundle previous books into a Boxed set at a discounted price. Write new back matter for the boxed set. Run Amazon Marketing ads and Facebook Ads.

It’s okay if you aren’t familiar with one or more of these.

Each week, read my blog. I will be researching them, individually, for you…

and learning right along with you!

Catch the Writing Bug

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It is almost time for school to start for the current year.

I remember from third grade on getting the same assignment each year on the first day of school: write two pages about your summer vacation. 

I could have written it in a couple of sentences. 

Our family did the same thing every summer: a week’s visit to our grandparents, one week attending vacation Bible School, and the remaining days playing with friends in the neighborhood.

Year after year, it was the same old thing. Finally, in seventh grade, I complained to my teacher. 

She patiently explained that she was not so much interested in what we actually did. Her purpose in the assignment was to assess our writing skills.

She suggested I embellish a little…add some excitement. Even make up stuff.

Really?

I attacked the assignment with renewed vigor. Soon, my pages were filled with the vacation of all vacations. The setting: Acapulco. The characters: surfers I hung out with on the beaches. And, then I added a bit of romance and intrigue and—

That’s right. The two pages were filled all too quickly.

That’s when I realized that writing could be FUN and EXCITING.

Thanks to Mrs. Snyder, I found myself looking forward to the start of each school year—and the predictable writing assignment.

I had caught the “writing bug.” A plethora of possibilities had opened up for me.

And I haven’t exhausted them yet.

 

Care to share a writing story with us?

 PARENTHESES VS. THE EM DASH

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THE PARENTHESES:

Use parentheses to enclose information that clarifies or is used as an aside.

He gave me a check for my birthday ($100).

Periods go inside parentheses only if an entire sentence is inside the parentheses.

Please read the book. (You’ll be astounded.)

THE EM DASH:

The em dash is the most versatile of all punctuation marks. It can be used instead of commas, semicolons, parentheses, or quotation marks. 

The em dash () sets off a word or clause and adds emphasis. Or, it can signal either an interruption or amplification of an idea.

You can put a space on both sides of it, as found in most newspapers, or leave a space following it. What matters is that you are consistent—throughout your article or book—to do it the same way each time. 

The em dash provides a more casual tone and look than a semicolon.

It can also be used to substitute for a missing word or words, such as swear words. However, personally, I use the ellipses (…) for this purpose.

Em dashes are also used as interruptors in sentences—mostly in blogs and digital content—to add a casual and conversational tone when writing online. They can be used to insert commentary on what is written, add a short joke or witty comment, or to add an example to your information. 

So, is there a battle going on between the parenthesis and the em dash? Perhaps even the semi-colon?

There doesn’t have to be.

Use whatever you are most comfortable with—but don’t overdo the use of any particular punctuation. They disrupt the reader’s train of thought.

And—they—can—be—annoying!

A sprinkling here and there are permissible. And, authors often find using them to help with the flow of ideas when writing. 

Inquiring minds want to know:  Why is it called the “em dash”? It is the width of the letter M.