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10 Things I Know About Cons As A Vendor

Book Signing Setup

Guest post by Armand Rosamilia

Cthulhu and MeI’ve been to a few conventions in my time. Over the years I’ve been a vendor, a guest and a Regular Joe who paid to get in with the rest of the commoners.

My favorite conventions are the ones where I can not only be a panelist, but a vendor as well. Earn back a few bucks while chatting with other panelists and audience members and be able to afford a drive-thru fast food lunch on the long ride home after the con.

So, in no particular order… here are 10 Things I Know About Cons As A Vendor

  1. I like a full table.

At conventions I often see authors setting up to sell their two releases, and they spread them across the table. Three feet for one book and the other half of the table for the other, with nothing fancy to get me to stop and look. Heck, a lot of authors/vendors don’t invest in a few bookstands. I have 45 different print releases I can bring to a convention. I usually don’t do it. But I bought two really cool book racks, which hold 16 books to display on each. I stacked them one on top of the other… and Special Gal said it was too high and looked ridiculous. I kinda agreed. I think you need to have a good balance of too much stuff for the potential customer to look at and not enough. I put bookmarks, business cards, stickers for the Authors Supporting Our Troops event, and hide the bags of M&M’s behind the displays. Those are not for the customers.

  1. I know I always bring too many books with me.

For some reason I’m praying four crates of books will magically sell out for me. At Imaginarium I brought 289 copies in total. I sold 10. It was still a lot of books to carry back to the car on Sunday afternoon. But when/if it ever happens… ahh, Sweet Victory! I can throw the empty crates at passersby and go inside a fast food restaurant and not only order off the dollar menu.

  1. I had a banner made.

OK, technically Special Gal had it made, but it has my name on it. I used it at Imaginarium and it got a few looks and responses. It is my Dying Days zombie series (the main books, at least) and I already have plans to do future banners for future conventions. OK, fine… Special Gal is doing it.

  1. Don’t sit behind the table like an idiot.

I have an outgoing personality. I also worked retail for twenty-plus years. I enjoy interacting with someone with money in their pocket and/or hand for some reason. I find myself sitting behind the wall of books and talking to everyone around me. I need to stop doing this. At Imaginarium I rarely sat down. I stood next to the table and talked to potential customers wandering the aisle. I think in an established convention (with aisles filled with customers) I need to do this to actually generate sales.

  1. People rarely carry cash.

Or if they do, they don’t want to part with it. I used to get the old ‘I don’t have any cash on me’ excuse. Now I use a Square for my phone. Actually, Special Gal does. I can’t figure it out. But you can use a credit card and then you have no lame excuse why you won’t buy my brilliance that is the written word.

  1. Be good with names.

I really suck at remembering people’s names in a large crowd. And the convention lanyards hang too damn low on someone, so I’m staring at some dude’s lower abdominal area or a woman’s vajayjay (I’m actually doing the latter and using the badge as an excuse). I have a uniquely sexy look, let’s be honest. But I also post a ton of current pictures on Facebook, so people know what I look like. The worst is meeting a fellow author who knows you and starts chatting like you know their avatar of a cat is really them. But then, when you find out who the hell they are, try to remember it. Especially when you’re taking a picture with them and want to tag them on Facebook.

  1. Make sure you have an idea ahead of time where the good food is being sold.

I hadn’t had White Castle in a dozen years before Imaginarium. It was a priority to find one, and we did. A couple of miles from the hotel. Pure heaven. There is nothing worse than going to a strange city and not being able to find good food, or have to rely on the hotel bar/restaurant for all your eating needs. Google that bitch, yo. And don’t judge me for eating White Castle.

  1. Find out what vendors are around you.

There’s nothing worse than being around someone playing music or someone who is so damn boring you’re afraid you’ll fall asleep. Or some idiot who claims you owe them money or wants to tell you stories about the Golden Age of publishing and then show you pictures of their cats. I am not an animal person. I also don’t owe you any money. The cool vendors around you will be fun to hang out with and talk to. They will also try to take your M&M’s, so please be careful.

  1. You’ll meet cool people you knew from MySpace.

I met a couple of fellow authors I’d known online for many, many years. It was cool to finally meet them and cool to see they (like me) were still doing their thing. Too often, writers come and go like the breeze. I’m not sure what that analogy means, so we’ll move on. It is fun to finally sit down and talk to them and realize they aren’t as odd as you thought they were online. They are even weirder.

  1. Be yourself.

No one likes a douche bag. Seriously. No matter how big and important you are, remember one thing: you’re not. I know I come off like a pompous jerk at times (and a sexy humble bastard as well), but I also have fun with all of this. I wake every day and thank my luck I get to write for a living. I used to have this other persona which I thought would make me cool and people would love me. It didn’t work. So now I’m just myself. And it works. Be genuine. Talk to customers and other authors. Have fun at conventions. Sell some books. Network. And stay away from my M&M’s.

~ Armand Rosamilia is the author of Dying Days and too many other books to name. Check out everything Armand at http://armandrosamilia.com

 

 

Filed under: Guest blog post, , , , , , , ,

How to Market A Spy Thriller With Zombies In 2013

MSG Cover

Armand Rosamilia is the badass author of Miami Spy Games and much more. Today he guest blogs on leveraging cross-genre marketing for more book sales and happier readers.

Is it a spy story? A thriller? A zombie tale? Yes. Yes. Yes. But so much more!

I’ve self-published many a novella and short story in my time writing, and they have been pretty straight-forward in regards to subgenre: the Dying Days series is about zombies, Skulls And Bones collection is horror, Keyport Cthulhu is Lovecraftian horror, Death Metal was a thriller, and the Birthday Series (writing as K. Lee Thorne) is erotica. Regardless, there were a few slight mixes of genre, but I could put a finger on each pretty quickly when asked.

Miami Spy Games? Not so fast. The fun, for me as a writer, is knowing I have a great publisher backing me up in Hobbes End Publishing. They set everything up and let me just write the story. I enjoyed that, and I got lucky with a great cover and marketing plan. But in interviews I get asked all the time what the genre is. My cheat answer? It depends on who I’m talking to.

Recently I was a guest on the Zombiepalooza Radio Show, and I talked about it and worked the angle it was a zombie story with spies and thrills mixed in. I’ve done interviews for websites that cater to thrillers and crime stories, and I don’t talk so much about the zombies. Obviously with a title like Miami Spy Games: Russian Zombie Gun, you can figure it out. But the focus on the spies and the thrills is the most important part.

This year, with so many eBooks and print books being poured into the already huge system of releases, you need to keep your head above water and see if you can get noticed. When I mention zombies to people, quite a few are turned off immediately. They have no interest, but if I hit them with the word thriller or spies, they might be. Or vice versa.

The key is to know your current target audience and see how you can hook them with something as simple as ‘yeah, I wrote a cool story about zombies.’ Adapt and market your book the way you need to in order to sell it.

67113_196559600480167_927925947_nIf you have any questions about the Miami Spy Games series, I’d love to hear them: armandrosamilia@gmail.com

Miami Spy Games on Amazon Kindle only $3.99!

 

Filed under: book marketing, Books, Guest blog post, publishing, , , , , , , , , , ,

The price and value of ebooks Part II

A Picture of a eBook

Image via Wikipedia

There’s a lot of talk about ebook pricing. You’ve seen the numbers. Today I’m pointing you to the comments section on a post on this very blog because a great dialogue arose that I haven’t seen elsewhere and I don’t want it lost. A writer and a reader have a very thoughtful point-counterpoint discussion, not just about the numbers, but how they feel about the numbers.

Thanks to both Tracy Poff and Reena Jacobs for both their passion and civility as they had an impressive meeting of the minds about ebook pricing from an author’s and reader’s perspective.

You’ll find the comments under this post: Do readers expect too much of ebooks?

Filed under: author Q&A, authors, ebooks, Guest blog post, publishing, self-publishing, , , , , , , , , , ,

Do readers expect too much of ebooks?

I love people who wisely challenge authority and the status quo.

They question the way things are to make them better.

Recently I pointed the way to a post by the insightful Derek Haines over at The Vandal. The discussion evolved from talk about how low, low, low ebook prices don’t match up with many readers’ expectations of perfection. I promoted Mr. Haines’ blog post, but too clumsily since I just mentioned it in a comment reply. Mr. Haine’s thoughts need more attention than I gave them so I’m remedying that today. Derek Haines was one of the first people to  welcome me to Twitter. I often find his blog posts eye-opening (e.g. Free e-books, do they get read? and The Self-publishing Money Trap). His thoughts on ebook pricing, value and quality, What did you expect for 99 cents?, are in need of a good, solid ponder. 

To freshen and deepen the discussion, novelist Reena Jacobs wrote in with something very thoughtful and heartfelt. I didn’t want her contribution lost down in the bottom of the comments. I asked her if I could repost. The first link takes you to the original post by the great Derek Haines and here’s Reena’s comment again as a guest post:

Derek Haines makes an excellent point. It broke my shriveled blackened heart to offer my full-length novel at $0.99, considering all the work I put into it. To think I toiled over the book for months…over a year with no pay, and folks didn’t even want to shell out $0.99…and forget $2.99.

Indie authors aren’t asking much but I think some readers expect perfection when they’re not willing to pay an asking price which is less than fair to the author to begin with. Some seem to forget the money used from sales is not only necessary to earn back the money already spent, but also to invest in future publications.

I don’t go to people’s place of businesses and demand freebies. Or worse, insult them with comments like, this should have been free or I’m glad I didn’t pay for this. If it’s free, folks should be happy they even had an opportunity to try it. Someone took time out of their life to offer readers a gift. It may not be to the readers’ liking or meet their personal set of standards, but it was still a gift. It has value.

Anyway, my wee little heart couldn’t take it anymore. If people want a $0.99 work from me, they’re welcome to my short story. I’d rather hoard all my works and never publish another title again than beg for $0.99 ($0.35 royalty) for a work I put months of my heart and soul into. Every time I read about someone complaining about a $0.99-2.99 work, it makes me want to bump my prices again. It’s gotten to the point I don’t even care if folks buy my books (kinda…’cause let’s be serious, sales matter to all authors) as long as I don’t feel like people are taking advantage of me and implying my work is worth less than it is.

Like Derek said, it doesn’t make sense to invest big money into a product that yields little return. In my opinion, that’s bad business.

I’ve already made a goal not to spend more money on publishing books than I make in sales. If that means no more full-length works, then so be it. Short stories are quick, dirty, and can be edited entirely through a critique group. I can part with one for $0.99 and not feel ripped off.

Reena Jacobs is just your typical writer who loves to see her words in print. As an avid reader, she’s known to hoard books and begs her husband regularly for “just one more purchase.” Her home life is filled with days chasing her preschooler and nights harassing her husband. Between it all, she squeezes in time for writing and growling at the dog. You can find Reena on Ramblings of an Amateur Writer, Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Nobles, and Smashwords

www.reenajacobs.com

www.reenajacobs.com/blog

http://twitter.com/ReenaJacobs

Alexandria (Alex) Carmichael guards two secrets close to her heart.

One–she’s in love with her best friend, Seth. Two–he’s gay.

 Add I Loved You First to your Goodreads list!

 I Loved You First

Filed under: blogs & blogging, Books, DIY, ebooks, Guest blog post, publishing, self-publishing, , , , , , , ,

6 Effective Ways to Promote Your Book

ReunionToday’s guest post is from the author of Reunion, Jeff Bennington! I forget how I ran across Jeff, though it could have been a lot of places since Jeff is a powerful experimenter in the realm of book promotion. His site is The Writing Bomb. He’s also blogged here before on CreateSpace versus Lightning Source–a very popular post, and for good reason: Jeff’s generous with what he learns. Here’s what he picked up from his book campaigns:

In the world of publishing, authors have found many ways to promote their work ranging from book signings with a 3-piece orchestra to dressing up like their characters. After publishing two novels, I’ve tried some of those crazy stunts, but from my experience, there are a few affordable and effective ways to promote your book online that won’t leave you looking like Barney the dinosaur. In fact, online marketing has been touted, and likely is, the best way for an author to promote his or her work.

However, authors have to approach marketing differently based on their genre and subject matter. And let’s be clear, when you promote your book, you can’t always expect immediate gratification and you’re not guaranteed sales. Your premise will drive readers to read a sample and the excerpt will determine your sales. And so, the quality of your writing is ultimately the best sales pitch.

The best promotion for me has come from the following:

#1 Goodreads.com: Goodreads “giveaways” are an incredible tool to publicize your book. I recently posted Reunion in a giveaway and had 787 bites in 5 days, beating out bestsellers that have been on the list for months.

HINT: Don’t post more than one book to give away and do it in one-week spurts. You’ll have to trust me on this.

I also like what my ad on Goodreads is doing. The thing with Goodreads is not how many clicks or sales you get, but how many folks “add” your book to their “to be read” list. When they do that, they are more or less planning on buying your book when they get to it, and they will, because most readers on Goodreads are avid readers and love talking about what they read, so they will also rate and review your book, which is another benefit of that site.

Another secret here is that if you spend X amount of dollars on an ad, you will likely get a lot more “adds” than clicks, which is good because it is a pay-per-click system. But if folks add your book without clicking on the ad then you have effectively extended the life of your ad immeasurably.

#2 Blog: If you don’t have a blog or you’re afraid of starting one or you think it’s too much

Jeff_Bennington

Jeff Bennington

work, then plan on writing your book solely for your mother to enjoy because blogging is only the beginning of what it takes to market your book…and it’s the easiest. It’ll only get harder and more expensive from there.

#3 Kindlenation.com: This is a very good site but you’ll have to plan months in advance to run an ad. It will definitely make your money back and more because they have a lot of readers who buy what they advertise. Programs run from $119 to $349. Kindle Nation reaches from 7,500 to 15,000+ opt-in readers. I paid $99 for an ad that ran in mid May and sold over 200 copies that day. So if you make $2 or $3 a book and spend $119…do the math.

#4 Twitter, Facebook, email lists: These are the most obvious and basic starting points. I’ll put it this way, I got all four of my book blurbs through Twitter connections, two of which are bestselling authors. If you can get that elsewhere, go for it. Basically, you have to tell your social marketing pals about your book.

And, this is important, you have to share their work too.

If you blast your friends and followers with your personal spam, they will retweet and share less and less the more you do it. Share what they are doing and chat with them and you’ll notice a marked difference in how receptive they are to spreading the word about your book. I’ve experimented with this and I can tell you without a shadow of doubt that cross promotion helps.

Strict self-promotion hurts.

However, I have found that tweeting short blurbs, such as “A Riveting and Incredibly Powerful Story of Pain and Triumph!” grabs reader’s attention more than, “Check out my new book, REUNION”. Try both methods and see which works better. Be sure to include a “tiny url” to allow room for your #tags.

HINT: Use the twitter share button on the right side of your Amazon sales page. It has the shortest “tiny url” I’ve seen yet.

#5 Ereadernewstoday.com: I’m on the schedule, so I don’t know for sure, but I’ve heard that Ereadernewstoday.com is a good site to advertise on. This program is $25 a day. Emails will reach about 10,000 book readers through opted-in email blasts.

#6 Blog Tour: Plan for a lot of work. It can be nearly free, but will be the most time consuming. However, if your book sucks, I think a blog tour can backfire. I’m just sayin’.

If you go this route, you better get your book professionally edited and proofed and have a great cover and good formatting because that’s what book bloggers and reviewers expect.

Basically, when it comes to promoting your book. You better make sure it is a damn good book or you’ll have a 7-digit Amazon ranking within a month. I know. I’ve seen it. But don’t get overwhelmed. I’m a newer author and I’m not breaking any records, but I believe these six methods of promotion will help you tremendously, especially if you are in the process of building your platform as I am.

Thanks for reading. What methods have you used to promote your book? How did it turn out? Let me know.

Jeff Bennington, author of REUNION & other thrillers

CLICK THE COVER TO BUY REUNION NOW:

Reunion

And here are more of Jeff’s links:

The Rumblin’ 

Killing the Giants

The Writing Bomb 

www.jeffbennington.com

Filed under: Books, Guest blog post, Publicity & Promotion, Writers, , , , , , , , , , ,

Four Traits of Successful Writers (Besides, You Know, Writing Ability)

Guest post by Marjorie McAtee

Skill and talent go a long way towards making a successful writer. But being a writer takes more than just skill and talent – it takes a strong character, as well.

People always ask me, “What qualifications do you need to be a writer?” And I answer, “None, really.” To be fair, if you’re trying to break into a specialized niche, like journalism, a degree in the field is usually necessary. But, if you paid attention in high school, you already know all about grammar, composition and style. With study and practice, anyone can learn to write well. But becoming a success as a writer, creative or otherwise, requires traits and qualities that can’t be learned in school.

1) A Successful Writer Holds Herself Accountable

If you want to be successful – in writing, or in life – you need to play by the rules. Do your own work. Respect the work of others. Treat your clients fairly; do the best job you can, and don’t cut corners. Be honest and upfront; if you don’t have the skills to take on a particular project, or if you need a deadline extension, say so. Remember the Golden Rule; if you have a problem with a client or colleague, respect, tact and courtesy are your greatest assets.

2) A Successful Writer Loves to Write – And I Mean Really, Really Loves to Write

I’m sure few people would disagree that it’s crucial to love what you do. As a former job-hater myself, I can vouch that it’s hard to feel fulfilled when you’re not fulfilled in your work.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You’re so lucky to be able to do what you love.”

That’s right. I am. I went pro because I love writing more than anything else. It doesn’t even matter what I’m writing about. I’ve been writing professionally for a couple of years and in that time I’ve written on at least a dozen topics. Even the most interesting projects can become mind-numbingly dull when you’ve worked on them for a few hundred hours. Some are just mind-numbingly dull to begin with.

But, two years on I seem to know something about everything (my friends call me “Google.” That’s how bad it is). And I still love the writing. No matter the subject, the mere act of researching, organizing and writing an article or blog post or page of web copy gives me pleasure. It makes me happy. It takes me out of my head and away from my problems. After a long day of writing for my clients, all I want to do is write some more. I always have a story, an essay or a poem in the works.

Some say it takes discipline to be a successful writer and I’m not saying they’re wrong. If you have a day job, it takes discipline to get up early and stay up late to do the writing. If you have a rich spouse or your grandma left you ten million dollars – it still takes discipline. Even if you don’t have any of those things and you rely solely on your writing work for income, it’s all too easy to just go back to sleep or take off early and go out with your friends. No one will to tell you to get to work; you have to tell yourself.

And where does that sense of discipline come from? Not from a need for money, approval or success. It comes from love. If I didn’t love this, I’d quit yesterday.

3) A Successful Writer Never Gives Up

I have plenty of writer friends — some career writers, some doing it for pocket money. Others keep their stories, essays and articles confined to Facebook, personal blogs, or, worst of all, a notebook in a drawer. These are the friends who say, “Gee, I’d really like to be a writer, but I just don’t know.” They want to be a writer the way some people want to travel Europe. They’ll talk about it for the rest of their lives but they’ll probably never do it. Maybe they tried once, didn’t succeed, and gave up.

And I can’t blame them. You hear these stories from famous authors who say they could paper the walls of their home, inside and out, with rejection slips. Those stories are true.

Publishing is a hard industry. It may be the hardest. Great manuscripts go into the trash unread every day because they arrived unsolicited, or the editor didn’t like the first sentence or it was a day that ended in Y. If you’re writing content, most people won’t even pay you minimum wage. Writing is the most under-valued skill in the world.

It’s not enough to want to be a writer in an idle sort of way. You have to want it more than you want anything else. You have to want it more than you want food, or sleep, or friendship, or approval, or vacations or sick days. You may have to give up all of those things to get it. You’ll try and you’ll fail. You’ll try harder and you’ll fail harder. You’ll try harder than that and you’ll fail harder than that. You’ll try even harder still — and guess what? You’ll still fail.

Sit down, cry, wail, moan, complain, tear your hair out for the unjust world. When you’re done, try again.

4) A Successful Writer Believes in Herself – Because No One Else Will

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I wanted to be anything. I wrote my first short story when I was four. I didn’t know the alphabet yet so I made one up. When I tried to show the story to my mother, she said, “Not now, honey, I’m busy.”

Okay, so obviously I wasn’t doing myself any favors by writing in what looked like a prototype of WingDings. Maybe some people have more supportive families or more considerate friends. I’d be lying if I said I’ve had no support at all.

But, for every one person who’s supported and encouraged me, there have been ten who’ve told me I’d fail. My mother insisted I train as a teacher so I’d have “something to fall back on” when the writing thing didn’t work out. When I start to talk about my current creative project, eyes glaze over and the subject changes. When I tell a new acquaintance what I do for a living, the response is often, “Yeah, but what do you really do?” Or  sometimes they just laugh. Even if they pretend to take me seriously at first, eventually they’re bound to ask, “So…do you um, ever, um, sell any of your articles?”

When I complain about not having enough work, I’m told to “get a proper job like the rest of us.” If I brag about having a lot of work, I’m praised like a puppy learning to widdle outside.

Everyone else is “pursuing a goal.” I am “chasing a dream.” Writing is a hobby, not a profession. Few will take your writing goals as seriously as you do. People will laugh and point, and laugh some more, even after you’ve proven yourself time and time again.
Let me tell you a secret about these people: they’re idiots. Ignore them.

They don’t know you like I do.

Marjorie McAtee has been writing since she was old enough to clutch a baby pencil in her chubby little fist and she will be writing till you pry that pencil out of her cold, dead hand. She writes SEO content and copy to make ends meet. Her work appears in print journals including The Blotter and Center: A Journal of Literary Fiction, and online at Amarillo Bay and Flashquake. She blogs about stuff and things at Don’t Call Me Marge. You can follow her on Twitter @marjoriemcatee or find her on Facebook.

Filed under: Guest blog post, Writers, writing tips, , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

All the dark fantasy fun of the first three books in the Ghosts & Demons Series for one low price.

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

You never know what's real.

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An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

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