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.

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!

 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.

Are Your Tastes Changing?

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My husband commented last week that he no longer had a craving for that first cup of coffee in the morning.

I said my taste had been changing, too. I used to consider myself a chocoholic, but I no longer craved chocolate.

Hmm.

Getting ready for a future yard sale, I found myself putting a lot of board games we loved to play in the past into the box. They’ve just lost their appeal.

Hmm.

Could the same thing happen with writing? Could it lose its attraction?

Hmm.

I asked a couple of writer-friends. 

At first they were aghast at the mere thought, but finally reasoned that if other things in life could lose their appeal, they guessed the same thing could happen with writing.

So, how will you know if this happens to you? And what, if anything, can be done about it?

First, the easy answer: you’ll know if it happens to you because you won’t be carrying your coffee into your home office each morning and rereading what you wrote the previous day—before anyone else in your household is even awake. 

You won’t spend endless hours perusing your lists of possible titles, character names, exciting verbs, and so on. And, you definitely won’t be shifting things around on your calendar to allow for more writing time.

The second question is harder to answer. You can give the “writer within” a boost by reading a book by an exciting author you’d like to emulate, you can reread your own work and take pride in your own style, read your positive reviews, or give yourself a vacation from writing for awhile—hoping that you’ve just burned the candle at both ends for far too long and need to revive your spirit.

Maybe try faking yourself out. Take all of your writing “stuff” and box it up. Put it on a high shelf and spend some time brainstorming what your future looks like without writing in it.

Take a nap.

Go for a walk.

Visit a friend.

Then, unpack that box. This is nonsense.

Once a writer, always a writer. 

There’s nothing on earth quite like it!

Bending the Rules

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As I was writing an Amazon review for a book I read this week, something told me to reread the epilogue—this time with a critical eye.

I found that here, unlike in the rest of the book, the author predominantly used telling. Even though has been a big “no no” for a long time, I am not against it being done in an epilogue. After all, the purpose of an epilogue is to tell what happened after the story and tie up loose ends. 

I, personally, don’t use telling in my epilogues, but I don’t see the harm in it. 

I do often use telling in my characters’ direct thoughts, however. After all, when I think my thoughts, I don’t censure them and make sure they are showing, not telling. I bet you don’t either. 

As authors, all of our writing should be as authentic as possible. That includes the thoughts of our characters. So, with that in mind, it should be perfectly fine to write something as direct as: I don’t know why I should even care what my cousin thinks. He lies about me and talks behind my back. He has always been nothing but trouble.

As long as it is clear that our character is thinking direct thoughts, telling should be permissible.

Finally, writing in the first person can also allow for bending the rule. The case may be made that this POV is largely internal thoughts and, as such, should allow for some telling.

However, epilogues, direct thoughts, and first person POV are the only instances in which our “show, don’t tell” rule can be broken. 

Remember, showing is always more exciting and should be given preference whenever possible.

Has Covid-19 Changed Your Writing?

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Several writer friends have decided to compile a short story anthology to be published in the fall of this year.

With the only real guideline being a word count of between 1200-1500 words, submissions have been streaming in.

Although they represent many genres, it is clear that the coronavirus has been on a lot of minds. Approximately one-fourth of the stories entered so far were influenced in some way by the virus.

Unique struggles in romances.

Changes in family dynamics. 

Strains on finances.

Health issues.

The list goes on and on because a pandemic affects every aspect of our lives.

One of my own four short stories was directly impacted by Covid-19.

What about your writing? Has it been influenced by the coronavirus?