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A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

 

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing


For the first ten years of my writing career I happily and blissfully wrote the books of my dreams and was thrilled when publishers actually paid me an advance for the privilege of publishing them!
But when 2020 arrived, along with the events-that-shall-not-be-named, everything went topsy-turvy, including the publishing industry.

I don't intend to rehash recent history - it's enough to say I know I wasn't alone in experiencing an upheaval in my professional and personal worlds.

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing


I wanted to do something different. In the spring of 2020, I decided to pursue a new genre. I wanted something fun. Something lighter. Something that gave me the opportunity to purse-whomp a bad guy or two (didn't we all want to purse-whomp someone at that time?) 

I turned to cozy mysteries with the thought that I would try them out. I had a target publisher, spent a year or so learning the genre, and wrote the first book in my Sweetbrier Inn Mysteries series.

But the world had gotten darker during that year to eighteen months and I quickly realized that traditional publishing wasn't an option for me at that time.*

*I want to emphasize that it wasn't an option for me. And it wasn't for me at that time.

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

I started exploring independent publishing. I asked for advice from our own Ruth Logan Herne and Pam Hillman and reached out to a few other friends whose indie work I admired, and started learning.

After all, Ruthy and Pam made the process look so easy! And every blog post I read said it was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy! 

I knew what I DIDN'T want to do:

1. I didn't want a cover that looked like my aunt had painted it.
2. I didn't want to ask my husband to be my editor.
3. I didn't want the font/paper/margins/etc. to look like I had cut and pasted my story to fit on a Word document.

In short, I wanted my books to have the same professional appearance that my traditionally published books had.

Was it as easy as the various blog posts claimed? No.
Was it doable? Yes.

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

I spent as much time learning how to indie publish my book as I had spent learning how to write in this new genre. I made a LOT of errors. I wasted a LOT of time.

At the same time, I "repackaged" myself. Instead of writing only historical romances, I wanted to expand my products. Cozy mysteries were already in the pipeline, plus I wanted to leave my options open to contemporary stories, historical stories, and even historical mysteries. I also wanted to edge into the general market - a market that wasn't really open to my Christian-focused Amish stories.

My new tag line reflected all of that.

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

After a new logo, a new website. and many, many hours of watching tutorials on everything related to indie publishing, I released my first indie book in May of this year.

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

With that bit of experience under my belt, I'm ready to publish my next book. The release date is September 28th!

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

Do you remember the three things I didn't want to do with my independent publishing?

1. I hired a fabulous cover artist - Hannah Linder. She's a familiar face around here, and she designs the best covers. She caught the vision of what I wanted after only a few emails, and I couldn't be happier with her designs. You'll need to stop by her website: Hannah Linder Designs

2. I hired a great editor - another name familiar to Seekerville - Beth Jamison of Jamison Editing. A great editor finds the hidden errors and inconsistencies in the manuscript, and Beth catches them all.

3. I purchased a program to give my books the professional formatting look I wanted: Atticus. Another option is Vellum, but only if your computer is a Mac.

All of these things cost money. If you're traditionally published, your publisher spends that money instead of you. There are other costs that you also pick up if you are your own publisher, but that comes with the territory. 

Eventually, the income column in my spread sheet should overtake the expenses column, but like any start-up business, that takes time. And work. A lot of work.

Which reminds me. Another little thing I did to enhance the professional appearance of my books (and my small business) was to form my own publishing company. Nothing fancy. But it took my name out of the "publisher" field on Amazon and gave me the opportunity to create my own logo and name. I call it Swift Wings Press, and I love this logo. I use it on bookmarks, my new business cards, and on the spine of my print copies.

A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

What's next?

I'll keep writing stories for the Sweetbrier Mysteries series - I'm working on a Christmas novella right now. 
There's an historical romance waiting for my attention on my computer.
And I would love to explore all the other ideas swirling in my head...

...but the great thing about independent publishing is that I can go ahead and explore those ideas, because I have the freedom to follow my own path, not the path of a traditional publishing company.

That's why I used Swift Wings Press for my imprint - I'm free to follow the wind, wherever it blows. (John 3:8)

Will I ever traditionally publish again? Of course, given the right opportunity. 

But until then, I'm enjoying what the Lord has placed before me at this time.


Have you ever considered independent publishing, either now or in the future? Or are you already in the midst of the adventure?

One commenter will win an ebook copy of "The Case of the Artist's Mistake!"


A Foray into Hybrid Publishing

The new art gallery in town is causing quite a stir, and Emma is in the middle of it!

The Sweetbrier Inn is filled with guests and the town is teeming with tourists who have come to celebrate Paragon Days, the official kickoff to the summer tourist season. But even before the festivities start, amateur sleuth Emma Blackwood stumbles upon a dead body. With no visible signs of violence, Deputy Cal determines the death is from natural causes, but Emma isn’t so sure. Why would a seemingly healthy woman drop dead? And what does the picture she was holding have to do with it? If Emma doesn’t solve this puzzle soon, a killer may get away with committing the perfect crime.

Coming September 28th! Preorders will be available soon!








Writing: Art or Business?

 

Writing: Art or Business?
Hello, Seekerville!

My husband and I (along with our youngest son) just returned yesterday afternoon from a trip east to visit family. From South Dakota to Iowa, to Indiana, to Michigan, to Minnesota, and then home. Nine days, 3000 miles. We're glad to be home again!

But in spite of all my planning, I had no internet access for the entire trip. The wi-fi card in my little traveling computer didn't work and my phone isn't set up to be my #1 computer. So my vacation was a true vacation, right? Except for the work I had been planning to do while we traveled, including writing today's Seekerville post. 

No worries! Welcome to Jan Drexler's blog from March 2015! I hope you enjoy it!

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Last year I joined our local writers group. It’s a secular group with a broad range of writing experiences and goals among the members. And like any group of writers, there are a lot of aspiring authors who come to learn and grow. Several of the members have had some success in the indie publishing field, but I’m the only regular attender who is traditionally published.

Writing: Art or Business?

The Prodigal Son Returns
Published by Love Inspired, May 2013
order HERE

That, plus the fact that I’m new means that they really aren’t sure about me yet. (That’s okay. Sometimes I’m not sure about them, either!)


One of the other members and I walked out to our cars together last month. She hadn’t realized before that meeting that I’m a published author with multiple contracts waiting to be fulfilled (i.e. I should spend all of my time writing!).

“How did you do it?” She thought she really wanted to know.

I hesitated for a half-minute. She wasn’t going to be happy with what I wanted to say, so I started with my standby answer for that question:

“I entered contests that put my name and my story in front of publishers and agents.”

Her eyes narrowed.

“You’re published by Harlequin, right?”

“Yes, by Love Inspired, Harlequin’s Inspirational line.”

She looked past my shoulder and unlocked her car door. “Don’t they have pretty strict guidelines? Don’t they make you change your story?”

“They expect you to make revisions to improve your story and so that it will fit their style. Every publisher does.”

She tossed her bag into her car. She said goodbye. She drove away. No, she didn’t really want to hear what I had to say.

If she had stayed around, ready to chat under the street lights on that unusually balmy February evening, I would have told her a secret.

Writing: Art or Business?

A Mother for His Children
Published by Love Inspired, August 2014
order HERE


Writing is an art. But once you hit the send button, it becomes a business.

When you’re in your writing cave, your story is all your own. It’s a wonderful thing to spend an hour or two every day in a world peopled by characters you’ve created. At this point, writing is all about imagination, craft, and answering the “What if?” questions.

I love this part of the process. It’s a little like giving birth, with all the pain, agony, and delight that accompanies bringing a new life into the world. It’s exhilarating! And it’s all yours!

But if you want to become a published author, once you’ve finished your story you need to switch modes. This story needs to have a life of its own.

Let’s take the birth analogy a little bit further. If you’ve raised children, you know that it is unhealthy (and impossible!) to force them to remain babies forever. They need to walk, to explore, to become separate people from their parents. As much as we delight in babies, we don’t want them to turn into some twisted copy of ourselves. We want them to become the people God intended them to be. To become adults.

The same goes for your story. If you have any desire to publish your work, you must put it out there for others to see. You have to listen to and evaluate comments from critique groups, contest judges, and eventually, potential agents and publishers. Why? Because these are the people who are helping your baby grow into a self-sufficient adult.

Writing: Art or Business?

A Home for His Family
Published by Love Inspired, September 2015
order HERE


Some authors hold on to their stories too tightly. They keep their writing snagged within their prideful grasp, thinking no one else understands their story like they do. They refuse to accept help to make it better, and they refuse to change anything to make it fit someone else’s standards.


If you want to be published, you won’t be that kind of author.
You’ll be the kind of author who understands that once you hit “send,” your story is now a business. Rather than keeping it close to your heart, you humbly open your hands and let it grow.

If an agent suggests that your story will sell better told in third person rather than first person, you start planning how to make that change and still keep the meat of your story intact.

When an editor sends you a list of revisions that need to be made and invites you to resubmit your story, you put everything else aside and make those changes.

When you get a request for a partial or full manuscript, you comply in a timely manner because that’s good business practice.

Soon you’ll find that those changes and revisions make your story stronger. More complete. Saleable.

Writing: Art or Business?

Hannah's Choice
Published by Revell 2016
order HERE


And when you see your book for the first time, you’ll cry. You really will. Because that’s what parents do when they see their babies all grown up.

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Welcome back to 2022!

I'm still treating my writing as a business. Next week, on May 25, my first indie published book will be released! You can preorder it NOW!!! 

Writing: Art or Business?

Ebook is available for preorder now!

Emma Blackwood’s favorite pastime is solving literary murder mysteries…until the body in her living room makes everything a little too real.
When Emma comes to the Black Hills to work at her Aunt Rose’s B&B, the Sweetbrier Inn, she is hoping for a quiet break from the corporate treadmill. But she hadn’t expected murder and intrigue to mar this peaceful setting.
As she wades through too many clues to identify the murderer, she soon finds that the culprit isn’t stopping at only one homicide and may even have placed Emma herself on the list of targets. With the help of her friend Becky, and a deputy sheriff who grudgingly lets them join in on the investigation, Emma tracks down the killer. But will it be in time to save the next victim?


Which kind of author will you be? What do you need to do to move your writing from art to business? #NoLimits!

One commenter will win an ebook copy of "The Sign of the Calico Quartz!" 

What Makes a Reader Try a New Author?

 

 
Happy Monday! Let's not speak of the torture that is Daylight Savings Time weekend and just jump right into today's topic, shall we? :) 

In my various roles as blogger, reviewer, influencer, and publicity tour company owner, I have the privilege of chatting with a lot of authors. A question that comes up frequently is 'what can I do to get my book in front of new readers?' In all honesty, sometimes I think that answer is different from reader to reader ... and from book to book. What works for one book/author/reader may not work for the next. Authors, this is probably not news to you. But if we filter through the various answers I think we can find some helpful common ground. 

And since I just got done saying that the answers can differ from reader to reader, I thought I'd ask some readers for their thoughts. (Occasionally I have a brilliant idea haha) I started by reaching out to several of my blogging/reviewing/avid reader friends to get their thoughts. 

Jessica Baker of A Baker's Perspective: First and fastest answer I have is a recommendation from a reader friend. There are several people in our bookish community that I know if they liked the book, I'll like it too. More than that, I just love the adventure of trying a new author. I will actually search the bookstagram community, or just visit my favorite online book sources and search for new releases. Once I find a book by an author I haven't read before, I'll check out the book blurb. If it pulls me in, I'll give it a go. I have found so many new authors this way. (so basically know this authors - have a strong book blurb!)
 
Suzie Waltner of Remembrancy: I’m usually willing to give a new-to-me author a try because I’ve found some hidden gems by taking a chance on someone. The first thing that piques my interest in trying a new author is the back cover blurb. If the book features something I enjoy reading (favorite genre or trope, a new setting, an intriguing plot, interesting characters, etc), I’ll try that author. The next thing that makes me read a new author is word of mouth. If I’m hearing about a book from other readers or seeing it often online, I’m interested enough to go read that back cover and a few of the reviews. And if both the blurb and word of mouth are building on each other, it’s a book I will automatically read. Also, if that book is in audiobook format, the book will get bumped to the top of my list as I am a reader who can listen to books while I’m at my day job and make a nice dent in my TBR. 

Connie Hill of Reflecting on Days Gone By: I have found some really amazing authors by word of mouth. I love subscribing to authors' newsletters and I’ve noticed they will put in their newsletter what they are reading. I like to know what they are reading. I also find new authors through social media. When someone posts about a book they are raving about it makes me want to read it. As a book blogger I’ve been fortunate to discover so many authors I may not have been exposed to before. I love when I get to partake in an author's first release. It makes me feel like I’m an important part of the journey.

Becca Rae of The Becca Files: There's lots of reasons I would try a new author. Word of mouth is gold, but that also has to start somewhere. Baker Book House has been running preorder sales for quite a while now and I have been known to scroll the "coming soon" section looking to add to my cart (because one almost never buys only one book at a time of course 😉 ). At this point I will confess to judging the book cover. I have found several new authors simply by the cover drawing me in and then reading the blurb. The one that comes to mind to me first for this recently  is Jennifer L Wright's If It Rains. It wasn't the most flashy cover, but it  tugged at my heart. As a reviewer, I find out about a lot of new releases through JustRead and also see the posts splashed all over social media. The more a new author can get out there, the more likely they are to be seen and talked about. I also follow publishers so will hear about the new authors through that chain as well. I fully admit that I am more likely to try a new author when they come from a publisher I already respect. If not, I'm more likely to need to see what others are saying before I'm willing to take the risk. It also needs to be said that the subject matter is what will catch my attention as well. I am largely an avid historical fiction reader. So I'm more likely to try a new author in that genre. But I like books. So like I said, word of mouth is gold and if other readers have said they enjoyed a new author then I'm more likely to give them a shot.

Beckie Burnham of By The Book: Trying a new author has some risks, but often great rewards. I’m always on the look out for something new, and a new-to-me author with a unique setting or subject matter is tops on my list. Whether it’s an exotic locale (A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy) or a new twist on a favorite genre (The Gryphon Heist by James R. Hannibal) I love stretching my reading horizons. A new author does that for me.

Crystal Caudill of Crystal Caudill.com: Once a new to me author has been brought to my attention I do several things, especially where I have to be so careful with my limited reading time. First I look at the cover, especially if it is indie. You can tell how much someone values their work by the quality of the cover. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it better not look slapped together. After the cover, I flip to the blurb. It has to be well written, grab my attention and leave me with questions without summarizing the story. After that, I read a sample through the look inside feature of Amazon or, if I’m in a bookstore, I’ll skim a bit from the beginning, middle, and end. This is really the make it or break it deal for me. Quality writing is what matters most to me. If there is no Look Inside feature, I’m really hesitant. Then I go based on who recommended the book and how much I think our tastes align. The other way I’ve found new authors is though the peer pressure of book challenges and book clubs. Apparently, the DARE strategy doesn’t work against books.

(By the way... speaking of trying new authors... make sure you keep an eye out for Suzie Waltner's new novel Midnight Blue - a second chance/secret child contemporary romance releasing July 5, 2022 from Anaiah Press. And grab Crystal Caudill's debut novel, Counterfeit Love - a Gilded Age romantic suspense that releases TOMORROW (March 15th) from Kregel!)
 
As you can see, even with the variety of answers & readers above, there are some common things that will lead to a reader trying a new-to-them author. If you look at the phrases I bolded, you'll see repeated elements such as:
  • word of mouth
  • recommendations from trusted readers
  • social media
  • book cover
  • book blurb/subject matter/setting 
But then I got even more curious about what other readers would say. For instance, if I polled a bunch of different readers who like different types of books and aren't necessarily part of the blogging community, would I get similar results? After all, if I'm going to recommend that you dear-to-me authors try such-and-such to get your books in front of new readers, I need to know that these things go beyond book influencers. To make sure they stand true even when someone isn't inundated with books to review, feature, etc.

So. I did. 

I asked two questions on a Google Form and shared it on Facebook. Most of the respondents are my friends and family (though some people shared it to their networks as well), and based on the people who told me they answered the questions they represent a wide variety of reading habits & tastes. 

Out of 280 responses (way more than I anticipated answering - yay!):
  • 30.7% said word of mouth is what most causes them to try a new author; 
  • 25.6% said it was the book cover or blurb;
  • 16.2% said it's reviews from trusted bloggers/bookstagrammers; and
  • 11.6% said that social media posts most influence them to try a new author.
One thing I found interesting was how little newsletters & reviews on retail sites seem to be the dominant factor for a reader to try a new author - only 5.8% for retail site reviews & only 1.4% for newsletters. This is not to say that there is no value for either of these in an author's marketing strategy - because publishers who know way more than I do seem to put so much stock in them both - but perhaps the value of these factors as far as putting your books in front of new readers is much less than we realize. 

Another interesting (to me) result is that, while I did not include it in my initial list of options, several people also wrote in 'endorsements' as the most significant factor in trying a new author. Most of the other write-in answers were similar enough to the options above (for our purposes) that I tossed them in with those respective categories.

I know that's a lot of info and numbers, and maybe you're like me and your eyes start glazing over when math is involved. So, let me give you a quick summary that you can add to your author tool-box: 

When asked for the single most influential factor that causes them to try a new author, over 75% of the readers polled pointed to 'word of mouth' (which includes social media posts & trusted reviewer recs) and 'book cover/blurb'. 

What are some practical ways you can harness this info to work for you?
  1. If you are indie publishing, invest in a professional cover & run your back cover copy (and even the cover) by several trusted readers to gauge their interest level & strengthen it accordingly. These two elements to your book are the first impression you give to readers. The cover (front and back) can make or break a reader's decision to pick up your book - spend time there accordingly.
  2. Look for ways to drum up word of mouth recommendations. Invest in a blog tour or social media tour with a company like JustRead Tours or start a grassroots campaign on your own to keep people talking about your book. Get that book cover that you've invested in onto social media. Reach out to bloggers who review in your genre and ask them for a feature. Some may not have time for a review, but even a spotlight/excerpt or author interview can get that word of mouth machine working. 
What about you? Did these reader results surprise you? What's something you've done to increase word of mouth buzz that worked for you & your books?
 
What Makes a Reader Try a New Author?

Carrie Schmidt is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She also loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. Co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers' Retreat and JustRead Publicity Tours, LLC, Carrie lives in Georgia with her husband Eric. She can be found lurking at various blogs and websites (because she can't stop talking about books) but her main home is the blog she started in 2015 - ReadingIsMySuperPower.org.


Top 5 Must-Haves for An Author Website (from a reader's point of view)

 

Top 5 Must-Haves for An Author Website (from a reader's point of view)

Happy Friday, Seeker villagers! As an avid reader, reviewer, book blogger, and book marketer, I spend a lot of time on author websites. Like... a lot. Ninety-nine percent of the blog posts I publish on Reading Is My SuperPower require me to visit an author's website. And I would say at least fifty percent of what I do for JustRead Tours also finds me there too. 

Picture this all-too-common scenario with me: I am doing a review for your debut novel, so I don't know a lot about you as an author yet. I search for your name (plus the keyword 'author') on the interwebs, click the link it regurgitates at me, the website loads .... and .... I sigh with disappointment. I can find almost no helpful information that I need to finish building my blog post. In fact, it doesn't even look like you want readers to connect with you at all.

What does this mean for you? Well... if it's me on the other end of that click, it means that I'm going to scrounge up what I can find elsewhere because I'm stubborn. But an interested reader who looked up your website may get frustrated and go away, no longer invested in you or your books. 

So what are some basic, easy-peasy-to-do must-haves that every author should include on their website to tell readers & media everything they need to know?

1. Author Bio

Ideally, you should offer a short bio and a medium-length bio. Both bio options should be in third person (I cannot stress that enough!!!) Our very own Mindy Obenhaus has two perfect bios to choose from on her website. My recommendation would be one paragraph max for the short bio & no more than three paragraphs for the longer one. 

Oh - and please keep your bio updated! If I go to an author's website and their bio says something like "Her latest book releases in March 2017", but I am posting about her actual latest book that released in October 2021, I am going to be hesitant to use the bio on her website.

2. High Resolution Head Shot

You can have a variety of head shots to choose from or just the one - that's not as important as the fact that the photos you include should be high resolution and professional-looking. Note: I'm not saying you absolutely must invest in a professional head shot (though I do recommend it) but at least make sure it's high quality and cropped well. I also strongly suggest that you be looking at the camera and smiling. Look friendly and open and "buy my book & you'll have fun". But the most important thing is that it's high resolution and doesn't look like my six-year-old nephew took it and/or cropped it.

Why does this matter on a website and not just a book jacket or media interview? Well, because graphics matter to most book bloggers / marketers. See the two examples below. This a graphic template I use often on RimSP - I have lost count of how many times I've had to hunt down a higher resolution or more professional looking head shot because the one on the author's website looks more like the 'please, no' sample than the 'yes, please' one. 

Top 5 Must-Haves for An Author Website (from a reader's point of view)

Top 5 Must-Haves for An Author Website (from a reader's point of view)

I know I'm spending a lot of time on this point but can you see the difference a professional looking photo can make? It sets a first impression for readers that can reflect negatively (whether true or not) on the assumed quality of your writing. So if you're going to spend some time and money on one thing, let it be this!

3. Updated Book Information 

This is similar to the 'keep it updated' note I mentioned in the section on your author bio. Your latest release should be easily discoverable on your website with a high resolution front cover (don't only include the whole cover spread - book bloggers don't use those) and a variety of purchase links. It's also not a bad idea to link to your publisher's page for your book. In other words, make it a piece of cake for people to find your book. (And now I want cake. And to read a book.) The fabulous Becky Wade is a great example of putting this 'must-have' into practice. Her latest release is super simple to find, and she also has a book list in a separate tab, organized by series. You can click on each book cover for the blurb, ways to purchase, fun behind the scenes info, quote graphics and more. Super fun for readers & super helpful for book bloggers / marketers.

PS - Need to know how to tell whether an image file is high resolution or not? There are some very technical descriptions that go over my head but as a general rule of thumb, if it's under 1MB in file size then it's probably not high resolution enough.

4. Social Media Links 

Let readers know how to connect with you!!! If we love your books, we are definitely going to want to follow you on social media and learn more about you & your life & what you're reading too. And if we find that we have things in common, well then we're all the more invested in you as a person and as an author. Personal investment from readers makes you an 'auto buy author' for them ... which translates into consistent sales. If they're coming to your website, they want to know more about you. Don't miss those opportunities! Our dear Mary Connealy has the icons readily visible no matter where you click through on her website AND listed out in her media kit too. Super helpful!!

5. Mailing List Sign-Up

While we're talking about connecting with your readers, you really need to have a way for readers to sign up for new book alerts and other email newsletters you might send throughout the year. This should be - you can probably guess what I'm going to say - easy to find on your website, whether it's a separate tab or a pop-up or a prominent place on your landing page and/or media kit.

Which brings me to the part of this post where it all comes together. If you've clicked on any of the authors' websites I linked to above, you may have noticed that they all have one thing in common - their media kit pages. A media kit on your website is a godsend for bloggers / media / marketers because all the info they are looking for is all on one page - can I get an amen?! But again... keep it updated. It's useless to us if it's 5 books old. (By the way, the 2021 Christy Award finalist Erica Vetsch did a terrific post on media kits a while back.)

Optional Fun Things To Also Include

I polled some bookish friends (aka Beth & Rachel) for some other ideas of things that aren't must-haves but do also appeal to readers. These are optional, but they really are a lot of fun to have!

The possibilities of what you can do are endless... have fun with it & your readers will too! But don't get overwhelmed. As long as you have the top 5 must-haves I covered in this post, your website will be an incredibly useful tool to establish connections with the people who will read & promote your books.

~*~*~*~

Top 5 Must-Haves for An Author Website (from a reader's point of view)


Carrie Schmidt is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She also loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. Co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers' Retreat and JustRead Publicity Tours, LLC, Carrie lives in Georgia with her husband Eric.

She can be found lurking at various blogs and websites (because she can't stop talking about books) but her main home is the blog she started in 2015 - ReadingIsMySuperPower.org.

 

What about you?
Authors, what questions do you have about your author website?
Readers, what makes you want to hang out on an author's website?

Comment below for a chance to win this super fun reading journal from Ink and Willow!
(US only)

Top 5 Must-Haves for An Author Website (from a reader's point of view)

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Roseanna M. White: Surprise and Delight

 

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Roseanna M. White: Surprise and Delight

Good Monday morning, Seekerville! I (Carrie) am here to introduce today's guest for this month's 'One Thing That Works For Me' series. Please join me in welcoming author Roseanna M. White as she shares about 'surprise and delight'!

For the last several years, my husband has been fine-tuning a marketing approach that he learned via Rob Hardy called “Identity Marketing.” It was originally created for filmmakers but was oh-so-easily adapted to the book world that he invested quite a bit of time into writing out those adaptations…and of course, sharing them with me, mwa ha ha ha. The whole system is amazing and works super well with the outlook I’ve always tried to have—that it’s not about selling, it’s about serving. And one of the tenets of this system that I especially latched onto was the principle of “Surprise and Delight.”

What is it? Very simple—whenever you can, come up with something that will surprise (in a good way, of course!) your readers. We all love plot twists in stories, right? Well, one of our goals should be delivering little twists in our marketing too. Things that our readers don’t expect, and which put big smiles on their faces.

Great in theory…but what about in practice? How do we actually come up with these things? I have a whole list of things I’ve done and tried, and many have worked quite well. But today I want to tell you about my absolute favorite.

So around two years ago, when we were just beginning to test this system, I had the idea for an online Tea Party Book Club. Now, this was before the world went virtual thanks to The Pandemic That Shall Not Be Named. The inspiration came in May of 2018; I had a book coming out…I went to a tea with the ladies from my church at a local tea house…and my husband had been running some virtual events via online meeting tech similar to Zoom. All these things swirled together in my mind and made me say, “Hey! Why couldn’t we do a tea party online?? I could put together packages, mail them out, and then get together with readers to chat about the book and have tea and treats together!”

I quickly became OBSESSED with this idea. (This is pretty typical of me, LOL.) I priced bulk tea. I priced pretty vintage teacups. Spoons. Sugar cubes. Individually wrapped treats. Candy. Mints. I weighed and priced postage. I considered how much I pay for this sort of thing at the local tea house. I came up with a package price and built it out on my website. And then… then… I presented it to my readers.

Would they love it too? Hate it? Not want to pay for that sort of thing? I didn’t know—all I knew was that I found the idea delightful, LOL, even though it would be a ton of work on my part.

I didn’t have to wait long to find out how my readers would receive it. Within a few days of announcing the idea, I had people filling the parties, ordering “starter kits” that involve tea pots and vintage cups and spoons, a lady from my church volunteered to make tea cozies for me, and I even had some people so excited that they signed up for all the extras and then realized an hour later that, oops, they were out of town that day or already had a tea set they could use.

But this was my answer—this idea, unheard of at the time, sounded so fun that my reader friends JUMPED to be a part of it. Where else did they get an hour with other fans of the book and the author and receive a hand-selected package of goodies to go along with it?

Now, granted, in the last year and a half everything has gone online, and we’re beginning to see a lot more things like this. But I’m thrilled to be able to say that I’ve been at it for over two years, that kinks have been worked out, processes have been streamlined…and that the seats keep filling up.

Best of all, relationships have been developed. I have regular attendees, and they greet each other like friends when they see a familiar face come back for this month or that month. Readers have become friends. And the conversations have been AMAZING.

Will I do these tea parties forever? Who knows. But I’m having a blast doing them now—especially because my readers are too. It’s just one thing in the many that I do to try to reach out to them, but it’s been a total success. It’s one way to Surprise and Delight them…and seeing how well it’s worked, it’s an inspiration to keep coming up with new ways to do just that in the future.

~*~*~*~*~*~

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Roseanna M. White: Surprise and Delight

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing for WhiteFire Publishing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. 

You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

 

Roseanna is offering a $15 credit in her online store to one commenter!

One Thing That Works For Me with guest Roseanna M. White: Surprise and Delight
 

Authors, what questions do you have for Roseanna about her tea parties or her 'surprise and delight' strategy?
Readers, what are some ways other authors have 'surprise and delight'-ed you? 

  

Avoiding Sticky Book Cover Situations

 Avoiding Sticky Book Cover Situations

As queen bees of the JustRead hive (aka owners of JustRead Publicity Tours) and avid readers, we’ve learned a thing or two about sweet reads and sticky situations. We want to help you avoid common book cover blunders and ensure your readers aren’t confused or even deterred by a sticky situation. 

Generally, authors will either have DIY, outsourced, or a publisher-directed cover design process. While this article is written primarily with independently publishing (or hybrid) authors in mind, the concepts are important for all authors to consider. Whether you are creating your own cover or conveying your vision to others, the goal is for the heart of your story (or nonfiction content) to shine through the cover.

 Avoiding Sticky Book Cover Situations
Visual Vibes

Research book covers that are selling or trending in your book’s genre and subgenre, making note of images, design styles, fonts, and colors. Once you’ve identified design elements that work well for your genre, focus on reflecting the heart of your story within your author branding and genre trends. 

Stock Images

Even the pros utilize stock illustrations and images but check to see if your selections are already being used on another book cover. Layering multiple images is one way to create a more unique cover but make sure proportions and blending are natural.

Fonts

We love fonts but readability is key. Two different typefaces on a cover (sometimes three) are acceptable as long as the placement is mindful. Whimsical and script fonts are especially tricky but they pack a visual punch when used in moderation and/or paired with a simple clean font. 

 Avoiding Sticky Book Cover Situations
Good Sticky

Stick to your budget and timeline. Don’t wait too long to finalize your cover or make last-minute changes, delays could end up costing you more. Compromise is common during the cover design process but be willing to stick to it and keep the lines of communication open rather than settling for a cover that doesn’t fit.

Encouragement for DIYers

You can successfully create your own book cover with thorough research, more research, and the popper tools! Creating an appealing cover on Canva, Picmonkey, or other free or low-cost design platforms is possible. Many of these tools even provide book cover templates and it’s a great way to get the ball rolling for cover mock-ups and even final cover designs. Be sure to ask a few trusted and experienced confidantes for their opinion on your work but don’t stress over trying to please everyone.

Cover Design Pros

If your budget allows, we definitely recommend working with a cover designer. Choose a professional who has created covers you love. We love so many covers including those designed by Roseanna White, Teresa Tysinger, Hillary Lodge, Sarah Monzon, Emilie Hendryx, and more! Please feel free to give a shoutout to your favorite cover designers in the comments. Keep an eye out for a more in-depth post on working with a cover designer in the future.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” 

It’s a nice sentiment but the truth is that the cover is the first glimpse a reader has of the content within. Book covers set the stage just as words pull back the curtains on the wonderful experience we share through stories, devotionals, and nonfiction accounts. Readers are going to judge book covers so let’s embrace that and maximize their impact positively. 


Can you name some genre-specific design features? Does a certain cover style grab your attention? Carrie, Beth, and Rachel would love to chat about your favorite cover trends in the comments! 


 Avoiding Sticky Book Cover Situations
JustRead Publicity Tours, LLC is a full-service publicity tour company for published works in the Christian genre or books considered within the wholesome or clean reads genres. 

Check out their About page to meet the queen bees or jump right into the Authors & Publishers or Readers sections to learn more about JustRead campaigns.

Embracing the Marginalized: Writing Characters Who Are Considered Different by guest T.I. Lowe

Let's give today's guest author T.I. Lowe a warm Seekerville welcome as she shares her heart for writing characters who are considered different by embracing the marginalized.

Embracing the Marginalized: Writing Characters Who Are Considered Different by guest T.I. Lowe

I was asked the following question in an interview for my book Under the Magnolias and thought I would elaborate on it for you in this post:

Why did you choose to represent characters who are “marginalized” or “misunderstood” in this book?

My answer: I am just so tired of the labels and the unrealistic boxes society creates and expects you to live up to. That’s hogwash. If God wanted us all to fit in the same box, he would have created us as carbon copies. He didn’t, so that means it’s a gift to be different and I think differences should be celebrated. I did a lot of celebrating this in Under the Magnolias.

Embracing the Marginalized: Writing Characters Who Are Considered Different by guest T.I. Lowe

That’s the blunt answer, and I feel like bluntness is needed for this question. No beating around the bush.

As a writer, I think it would be an injustice to write solely about cookie-cutter characters. I don’t know about you, but I’m a hot mess. I have issues. I’m pudgy. When I’m nervous, I cannot find eloquence to save my life. And those are just some of my issues. Other folks have other issues. Honestly, that’s what makes them interesting in my book.

My desire is to showcase differences, in all forms, and to have people realize how unnecessary labels and boxes are. The ones who are typically overlooked are the ones I always gravitate toward when investing in character studies.

Labels created by society come with scarlet letters of shame. Body-shaming. Race shaming. Gender shaming. Social views shaming. I could go on and on. If one person reads Under the Magnolias and can relate to one of the marginalized characters and realize they are perfectly acceptable as is, then I’ve done the job I wanted to achieve.

Here’s a sneak peek at the interesting mix of characters you will meet in Under the Magnolias.

As the piano came to life, I sat a little straighter and scanned the small pews and felt certain the ragtag congregation near about represented any walk of life you could think of.

A fortune-teller accused of being a witch doctor. Check.

An ex-con with a glass eye. Check.

An atheist believer with a Polish accent. Check.

The town’s undertaker whose sexual orientation was questionable. Check.

The town floozy with a penchant for neon-blue eye shadow. Check.

A poor farming family with way too many kids. Check.

A madman leading them. Check.

As you can see in this small excerpt, there is quite a colorful group of people just waiting to introduce themselves to you. Sadly, they carry labels and shame formed from falsities and gossip. Mostly because those characters didn’t look or act like the “normal” townsfolk. Surfaces can be deceiving, but with a closer look, my readers are going to meet a spectacular group of people.

Embracing the Marginalized: Writing Characters Who Are Considered Different by guest T.I. Lowe
It’s time to stop the shaming and start being encouragers. I know this sounds more like a soapbox speech, but I think it’s important to grasp, in real life and in fiction. And as a Christian author, I feel like it’s my duty to love as Jesus loved. That means encouraging and not shaming. I want people to read my stories and see themselves walking through the mistakes with my characters, and I want them to celebrate in the moments of redemption as well.

Sometimes our issues or the labels placed on us due to our issues hold us back from seeking help when we need it. Shame will send us into hiding. Readers will discover how detrimental this is in Under the Magnolias. My characters hide behind the labels, become prisoners to them actually, until it almost becomes their ruin.

As a writer I have the gift of giving the story a happy ending. Sadly, this isn’t always the case in real life. Please, if you are struggling with any form of mental illness or have been hiding some other issue, I want to encourage you to get help. As Austin Foster discovers in this book, you’d be surprised how supportive those around you can be if you just let them in.


Is there a marginalized character you’ve discovered in a book you related to? If so, what book and how did it affect you? 

Share your thoughts in the comments and one reader will win a print copy of Under the Magnolias courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers.


Embracing the Marginalized: Writing Characters Who Are Considered Different by guest T.I. Lowe
Under the Magnolias
Releasing May 4, 2021
 
This night not only marked the end to the drought, but also the end to the long-held secret we’d kept hidden under the magnolias.

Magnolia, South Carolina, 1980

Austin Foster is barely a teenager when her mama dies giving birth to twins, leaving her to pick up the pieces while holding her six siblings together and doing her best to stop her daddy from retreating into his personal darkness.

Scratching out a living on the family’s tobacco farm is as tough as it gets. When a few random acts of kindness help to ease the Fosters’ hardships, Austin finds herself relying upon some of Magnolia’s most colorful citizens for friendship and more. But it’s next to impossible to hide the truth about the goings-on at Nolia Farms, and Austin’s desperate attempts to save face all but break her.

Just when it seems she might have something more waiting for her—with the son of a wealthy local family who she’s crushed on for years—her father makes a choice that will crack wide-open the family’s secrets and lead to a public reckoning. There are consequences for loving a boy like Vance Cumberland, but there is also freedom in the truth.

T. I. Lowe’s gritty yet tender and uplifting tale reminds us that a great story can break your heart . . . then heal it in the best possible way.

Embracing the Marginalized: Writing Characters Who Are Considered Different by guest T.I. Lowe

T. I. Lowe
is an ordinary country girl who loves to tell extraordinary stories and is the author of nearly twenty published novels, including her debut, Lulu's Café, a number one bestseller. She lives with her husband and family in coastal South Carolina. Find her at tilowe.com or on Facebook (T.I.Lowe), Instagram (tilowe), and Twitter (@TiLowe).

The Beauty of Collaboration

Happy Monday, SeekerVillagers! For those of you in parts of the country where bitter cold was an unexpected and unpleasant guest, I hope things have warmed up, that you have power and water at your house, and that you didn't suffer too much damage. For those of you like me, who live in the frozen tundra of the north, it's nearing the end of February, and spring will come! Who was it who said, "Winter doesn't last forever, no spring misses its turn."? 

Or better yet: 

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, 

cold and heat, summer and winter, 

day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22

During the rough weather in the middle of February, you should have read the emails flying back and forth amongst the Seeker-sisters. Reporting in safe, inquiring as to conditions, giving advice, prayers, information. With Seekers scattered from New York to Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, Colorado, South Dakota, Texas, Minnesota, DC, Arizona, Indiana...who am I missing? there were lots of varied experiences with the weather. And each SeekerSister was right on the ball with doing what they could via prayer and advice to help.

Which got me to thinking about our writing communities and how we need each other.  We are not alone in our triumphs or troubles when we have a strong writing community of friends. (Wouldn't that make a great tweet?)

I've been noodling this idea of collaboration and community recently. I have taken part in several collaborations throughout my writing career. Sometimes I've collaborated on a writing project, like the Seven Brides for Seven Texans novella collection. Seven authors, writing about one family of seven brothers, the stories all taking place over one calendar year. That was a lot of collaboration! 

The Beauty of Collaboration

Then there is the Seekerville collaboration. As mentioned above, it's more than the blog, it's the community we've created, both with each other and with our faithful readers. (That's YOU, by the way!) Collaborating on the blog means that no one person has to provide the content every day. It means we share responsibilities both on the blog and behind the scenes. We also share ideas, guest posts, and more. We also promote the blog posts on our various platforms. I love that we support and care for each other, that there is always someone available with writing advice, life advice, and the occasional "Pull yourself together and get on with the job" advice that I need. (Looking at you, Ruthy, on that last one!)

There is also the marketing aspect of collaboration with other authors. As you know, authors are called upon more and more to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to marketing their books. Which can get tough, especially on a budget. But when you collaborate with other authors to promote your work, it suddenly can become much easier. And here's why:

1. Shared cost. Marketing can cost you some dough. Whether it's placing ads, running giveaways, acquiring swag, the costs can add up. However, if you join with other authors who write the same sorts of things you do, you can share costs. I recently collaborated with a group of Christian fiction authors in a Love Through The Ages promotion where the prize was a set of EIGHTEEN books. And there were TWO Winners. My portion of the prize is two copies of one of my books. If I was to run a contest where I had to provide and mail THIRTY-SIX books, that would be cost-prohibitive, but I can provide and mail two books, no problem.


The Beauty of Collaboration


2. Shared work. Not all authors have the same strengths. Some are great at making graphics. (Looking at you, Pam Hillman.) Some are great at coming up with unique marketing ideas. Some are great with spreadsheets. Some are great at putting together ad copy. Some are great at coming up with just the right prize that will have readers eager to jump onboard. There are a lot of details to consider when you want to do a promotion, and no author is an expert in all of them. When you pool your abilities, more aspects can be covered that you might not have thought of on your own, and no one author has to be in charge of everything. You are all links in a chain that stretches farther (further? Farther? Sigh. My constant struggle.) than a single link could on its own.

The Beauty of Collaboration




3. Shared information. Did you know that Mary Connealy is possibly the best in the world at finding useful book swag? Hairbrushes, jar openers, cutting boards, letter openers, chip clips...these are just a FEW of the amazing things she has found for reasonable prices that enable her to promote her books on something that readers will keep and use. She lets us know her sources and we kick around ideas for what would be good to purchase in the future. Some authors are more up to date than I am on where good places to advertise might be. How to promote posts on FB, or buy ad space on amazon or get a post in a magazine publication. We each possess bits of information that can and would be useful to our collaborating authors, and sharing it means more people hear about your work.

The Beauty of Collaboration


4. Shared reach. The number of people in your newsletter list, your FB friends list, your Instagram friends, etc. is known as your "Warm Reach." These are the people to whom you have access, and that you can inform fairly easily about your books. But here's the thing, Winnie Griggs has people in her 'warm reach' that I do not. The same with Mindy Obenhaus, Missy Tippens, Debby Giusti, and Beth Erin. When we collaborate on a promotion, marketing, giveaway, whatever, the information about their books and services reaches people on my list that otherwise wouldn't know about it, and vice versa. I call it 'cross-pollination.' The above Love Through The Ages collaboration resulted in several HUNDRED new email subscribers for me that I would have had no way to reach otherwise, and those new newsletter friends came as a result of the seventeen other authors promoting the giveaway to their 'warm reach.' 

The Beauty of Collaboration


5. Shared fun. Face it, writers like to talk to other writers, and to brainstorm, and to be creative. Twice last year, author friends Julie Klassen and Michelle Griep and I collaborated on a fun promotion called Regency Bingo. We invited folks to choose Regency-themed words from a list, email their chosen words to a third party, and then Julie, Michelle and I filmed ourselves drawing words from the Top Hat of Awesomeness, three words each day until all the words were drawn. The first person to have their chosen words pulled from the hat, emailed the third party with a BINGO, and won a prize. The response to the game has been phenomenal. Everyone has a great time, including us. If you could see us behind the scenes when we're filming...it's a load of fun! We'll do the promotion again, and each time we'll add a new twist to keep it fresh. 

The Beauty of Collaboration




Now, not all collaborations are created equally, and you need to evaluate the ROI. Return on Investment. Some collaborations will cost you very little, but they might bring you a nice return. Ultimately, you're looking for each promotion you do to result in a wider audience for your books. Whether that is through newsletter contacts, social media reach, or even better, new friends, you are hoping for some return on the investment you're making. Some collaborations might cost you a lot in time. You must choose whether you feel the time invested in the collaboration will give you a decent return, or if your time might be better spent another way. 

You'll learn from each collaboration, and you'll teach others, too. And you'll find that working with others toward a similar goal means you will be 'greater than the sum of your parts.' 


Have you collaborated with others to increase the effectiveness of your efforts? Do you feel it was successful? Did you learn a lot?


The Beauty of Collaboration



Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she is married to her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!

 FYI, Book 3 in the Serendipity & Secrets series drops in just about one month! Do you have your copy pre-ordered?

The Beauty of Collaboration

Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business--or will it turn into something more?

Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life--especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero's dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man’s grieving fiancée and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.

When he and the ladies arrive at his new manor house in Devon, they discover an estate in need of a leader and a gaggle of girls, all wards of the former earl. War the new earl knows; young ladies and properties he does not. Still wishing to provide for the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience.

Sophie is surprised to find she isn't opposed to the idea. It will help her care for her betrothed's elderly mother, and she's already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, as well as divert her attention from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his sea commission, she'll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.

It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he's come to mean to her. Now she'll have to learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.



Pre-order today at: amazon  or ChristianBook or B&N or ChristosBookCenter (This last one is the local Christian bookstore in my town. If you're wanting to support local, but you don't have a local bookstore, give Erika Kelly a call at Christos. She will lovingly serve and get you just what you need!)


So You Want To Start a Street Team? by guest blogger Rachel Dixon

 

 
 
Hello Seekerville! Happy New Year from me to you :) I (Carrie) am beyond delighted to welcome one of my book sisters to the blog today! Rachel Dixon is super talented and organized and she is here to give you some tips on street team management. I love her dearly & love doing life with her. Please give her a great big Seekerville welcome today!

Take it away, my sweet friend -

Do you have a street team? Do you need some ideas on how to spice things up a bit? Maybe you haven’t created one yet and need some direction in how to start one. Whether you have an established influencer group or are new to the club, I am excited to share some of the ins and outs of Street Team mechanics.

First, let me introduce myself. I am Rachel Dixon, homeschool mom, bookstagrammer, avid reader, Partner at JustRead Tours, LLC., and virtual assistant to Roseanna M. White. I have been managing street teams for almost 4 years now and through trial and error...have definitely learned a few things. I’m here today to give you some ideas to help make the process a little easier and a whole lot less stressful.

Curating the Team

Who your publisher is will determine the size of your street team. Some publishers have an allotment of print books set aside for influencers. But if you are self-published, you can choose to stick to only digital copies and use a few print copies as giveaways exclusive for the team.

Google Forms is my BEST FRIEND when it comes to street team sign-ups. You can customize the questions to make sure you are getting the best team for you and your book...Plus, it’s free! One of the most critical questions that I include is: “What is your favorite thing about being an influencer? (Or that you are looking forward to)”. This is an excellent “first impression” question. A question to consider while looking over their answers is this, “Are they only in it for a free book or do they genuinely care about promoting my books?” I also make sure to ask for links to their blogs, reviews of other books by the author. This helps narrow down the search for team members as you can ask yourself, “Do they follow instructions & show at least basic skills in navigating links, their blog & social media?” You want competent team members after all. (butting in from Carrie: otherwise it will just cost you more work in the long run!) Don’t forget to ask for email and mailing addresses too. After you acquire the applications, you can narrow down the applicants to the required number and curate a team that will be customized to your needs.

Managing the Team

You’ve selected your team...Now what?

There are several options for where and how to manage your team. My favorite (right now) is a hybrid option. We have a private Facebook Group as well as a Newsletter style email list. Doing it this way gives the team a chance to interact with each other, share graphics, links, info...But not everyone is on Facebook, so sending team emails out is also useful. 

Working with the Team

Ok, NOW...you have the team all ready to go….WHAT do you have them do? One thing to keep in mind is the difference between INFLUENCING and REVIEWING. As an influencer, your team’s main focus is to generate positive buzz about your book. This may or may not include a review. I try to make sure that team members know that they can still be an active influencer, even if after reading, the story isn’t quite their cup of tea. While one of our main focuses is spreading reviews, there are so many other actions that team members can complete in order to make your book launch a success. Some of these actions include:

       Blog Post (doesn’t HAVE to include a review)

      Email your recommendation to anyone who you think would enjoy my stories

      Talk to your friends and family in person about my books

      Post a picture on Instagram

      Pin the covers to Pinterest

      Vote/Add my books to lists on Goodreads

      Donate or Giveaway your print book when you are finished to someone who you think will enjoy it

      Create your own quote graphic

      Take a picture of your self with the book and share on Social Media

      Request your school library, church library, public library, and/or local bookstore to carry the book

      Add a quote on Goodreads or share it on social media

      Share interviews and giveaways that I post on my author page on Facebook

      Upload a video of yourself talking about my books

      Follow me on Amazon

      Follow me on Bookbub

      Post about the book on Facebook

      Share my posts about the book on Facebook

      Tweet about the book

Having FUN with the Team

It’s fun to post “getting to know you” questions in the group. From questions about the current book they are reading, to their favorite animal. It is a way to connect with your team members and make the whole experience more personable. Rather than “Here’s my book, hope you like it.”

Hosting exclusive giveaways just for team members, and sharing content such as sneak peeks and cover reveals with the team first is always fun.

Helpful Tips:

Media kit - This is so helpful for your team, for reviewers, for bloggers, to have easy access to. A simple media kit includes:

     Author Headshot

     Author bio (you can have different length ones available)

     Author social links

     Recent book cover

     Recent book blurb

     Recent book purchase links

Review submission form - To keep your team accountable, I HIGHLY recommend having the team fill out a form after the book release. This allows you to have all the reviews in one place for easy reference, as well as keep tabs on who is an active member of the team and who...isn’t.

New Blood - Even if you have a well established and loyal street team. It is always good to bring in new members. And life changes, sometimes people have to step down for a while. Occasionally checking in with the team to see if they’re still interested and filling positions as they come available is always useful.

Resources:

Google Forms
Google Sheets
Send in Blue

Mad Mimi
Mail Chimp

Canva

~*~*~*~*~

So You Want To Start a Street Team? by guest blogger Rachel Dixon
Rachel Dixon is a work from home mom who LOVES to read. She enjoys good (clean) books of all kinds and has a soft spot for historical fiction. Rachel has been reviewing books since 2014 and is the sole owner/operator of Bookworm Mama. She is also one of the partners of JustRead Publicity Tours, LLC. Rachel has had the honor of participating as a judge for various awards since 2017. Rachel also works as an Author Assistant and contributes to a group blog. Homeschool Mom, Public School Mom, Assistant Events Coordinator, and Worship Leader are just a few of the “non-bookish” roles she has.  

Thank you, my dear Rachel for this fabulous post! Check out her gorgeous bookstagram feed on Instagram @bookwormmama14

 

What burning questions do you have about street teams & the care thereof?
Or, if you're not an author, what do you enjoy most about your fave street teams?

Comment on this post for a chance to win one of these January 2021 new releases!
(winner's choice of 1 book from linked list, open internationally as long as Bookfunnel has the book & ships to your country.)

10 CHOICES WRITERS MAKE EVERY DAY

Publishing has changed. It has changed drastically since I started this journey about 18 years ago, and here's a bit of advice from a gal who has published nearly 60 books: A meteor didn't take the dinosaurs. The inability to adapt did.


10 CHOICES WRITERS MAKE EVERY DAY

If you don't believe me visit the Museum of Natural History in NYC.

Let me give you a brief Ruthy history: I wrote for eight years before getting a contract with Love Inspired. I was approached by Theresa Park (Nicholas Sparks' agent) in year five but she didn't want to talk further if I didn't pull my work from Harlequin/Love Inspired. Ouch! I made mistakes... and stayed writing through them. The publishing climate changed. I stayed writing. Christian publishing houses began to close. I kept writing. I examined markets, tried to mentally predict what would happen next (hahahahaha! Good luck with that, LOL!). I saw that romance was going to a much higher degree of sensuality than I was comfortable with and with that I left RWA (Romance Writers of America). I kept writing. Entering contests. Going to conferences and meeting people when financially possible, and I learned to watch quietly because what gets put on the Internet stays forever on the Internet... Oops! Publishing contracts from Love Inspired kicked off my career: in 2009 they offered three separate contracts and a new page was turned.

I love working with Love Inspired. I love that women with short purse strings can afford these books, and that they're available in Walmarts and pharmacies and grocery stores... where women tend to shop, right? No brainer. But I also like writing bigger, broader books.

I kept writing.

I had 14 novels complete when I was contracted.  My first post-contract agent didn't see them making it anywhere... they didn't fit.

I kept writing.

My next agent echoed those words. They weren't typical Christian fiction, they didn't fit in the box, and because I was so good at category, maybe that's where God intended me to be.

I figured God wanted me to do exactly what I was doing... honing my craft, and working on my mission to give women the strength and grace and tenacity to see how faith builds us up in times of trouble... and I knew those stories might not fit the prescribed CBA "box"... but I knew they were good.

I went indie with those books, hit Amazon bestselling charts and began my hybrid career, not as an "in your face" move because I respect these women. They were right. PUBLISHING RARELY BENDS TO MAKE ROOM FOR NEW STUFF. That's their prerogative, right? Ours is to make our own choices to build our careers. Who knew??? 

And you know what? Rather than fuss and whine (which I've watched happen countless times) about what publishing wants, or the (gasp!) ignominy of writing to market... (shocked face and gasps again!) a strong writer examines the business side of the market, their time, their choices, their goals, and goes from there because, my friends, in case you've forgotten or never knew this, writing is a business.

It is not a hobby if you want it to pay the bills.

You do not have limitless choices when you are under contract.

They are paying you to produce a product, the product they bought... the product they're standing behind, the product they plan to market, the product they hope to sell to a targeted audience/readership just like Fruity Pebbles are normally targeted toward really smart kids because they're delicious!!!! AND.... Kashi Go flakes are marketed toward adults who don't run off an extra 500 calories while sitting at a desk.

As an author, you don't just write the book unless you're going indie.

You may be asked to re-write the book.

You will have revisions. Some of them may not sit right. When this happens, you do the revisions because they bought the book... you're the author, but it is now their book.

You will have edits. Multiple edits. And you don't necessarily get to ignore them although there is some compromise available, especially once you have a track record. But establishing that track record, building a readership, now that's up to you. 

Back to choices, because no matter how many fingers get pointed at the tyranny of publishers, here are the facts: This isn't about them. It comes down to you.

10 CHOICES WRITERS MAKE EVERY DAY

1. You may have to jump through hoops. In day jobs we call that "having a boss".

2. You will have to compromise. 

3. You will have to take advice and adjust your time frames, schedules, focus and deliver the goods in a timely fashion. 

4. You may have to write to market. That means that you may be asked to write books that sell to a prescribed audience/readership. Before you think of this as an insult, consider this: the publisher is paying. That gives them a really firm leg to stand on. If you don't want to write to market, that's okay, too! But it's not an insult to be asked to produce a book that fits a niche. I do both. Category romance and cozy mysteries are great examples of writing to market... and paying the bills! I love being a small business woman who has built a career that pays the bills... But as mentioned above, writing other stories takes a different path.

5. Don't shrink back from proving yourself. Women have been doing that forever. Now is no different. When my indie books took off, I was offered contracts for bigger books from publishers. Yay! But my work and effort came first, and it's often like that. This is not offensive. It's how things go sometimes. The old adage rings true: The harder you work, the luckier you get.

6. Publishing isn't easy and you will make hard choices. One publisher asked one final question before deciding on a contract: Will I still write for Love Inspired? I said yes... and they did not offer the contract. It is a personal decision how much power you're willing to concede and I assess each offer, contract on its own merit and my faith.

7. Your covers aren't always your dream covers... but when readers fall in love with your work, you'll realize that readers don't care as much about covers as they do about authors who touch their hearts.

8. You will have to relinquish a measure of control. Not everyone can do this. Think it over carefully.

9. You will have to deliver manuscripts on a deadline, edits on a deadline, background and art work on a deadline... and take advice from editors, copy editors, sales teams and marketers and follow the rules.

10. Working with other authors isn't always easy. Word to the wise: We are a diverse group, even when we are considered a "stable" of writers. Like horses, we are of many colors and temperaments. We have different talents and goals, but you would be wise not to burn the bridges because it may be a big industry but it is a Very Small Pond. Be nice. Play nice. Or mind your tongue. What you put in print on social media gets seen by many.... take it from one who made some early mistakes and think, think, think before splashing your current angst all over Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. 

I've been honored to help and mentor and advise a lot of aspiring and now published writers... We've been doing Seekerville for fifteen years, so I've watched promising authors crash and burn numerous times because the work and expectation involved isn't a piece of cake. 

I hope that's not you.

But then-- dear author-- that's entirely up to you. 

Indie publishing has opened so many doors and options that didn't exist as a viable option even ten years ago.

Ten years!!!!

To quote Nora Roberts on writers and success: Successful authors aren't always the most talented. They're the ones who didn't quit.

And that bit of truth holds true today, too.

And a double giveaway of this new mystery today!!!!! "A Fallen Petal", book 2 of "Savannah Secrets" from Guideposts Publishing! 

10 CHOICES WRITERS MAKE EVERY DAY

When an acclaimed author announces his next book will be a deep dive into the predecessors of Savannah’s oldest citizen, 104-year-old Harlowe Green becomes very nervous. Harlowe fears that a long-buried family secret might not just tarnish his reputation, but it might also expose his family as criminals. Years ago—almost a century now—he went on a trip north with his parents and little brother, Lawrence. Only three of them returned home, and everyone around Harlowe refused to acknowledge that Lawrence had ever existed. Concerned that time is running out to understand what happened, Harlowe implores Meredith and Julia—fresh off their first case—to help him find the truth. But will their discoveries bring him peace or confirm his worst fears and destroy his family’s good name?

10 CHOICES WRITERS MAKE EVERY DAY
Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is thrilled to be doing exactly what she loves doing, writing beautiful stories with unforgettable and wonderfully relatable characters while helping to run a pumpkin farm, enjoy a big family, and balance a cake on a plate like Seuss's "Cat in the Hat". :) Her newest mystery has just been released by Guideposts, and she's thrilled to share it with folks today! 

You can email Ruthy at loganherne@gmail.com, friend her on Facebook, visit her website ruthloganherne.com or hang out with the many varied authors here in Seekerville or Yankee Belle Cafe. 

A Foray into Hybrid PublishingWriting: Art or Business?What Makes a Reader Try a New Author?Top 5 Must-Haves for An Author Website (from a reader's point of view)One Thing That Works For Me with guest Roseanna M. White: Surprise and Delight Avoiding Sticky Book Cover SituationsEmbracing the Marginalized: Writing Characters Who Are Considered Different by guest T.I. LoweThe Beauty of CollaborationSo You Want To Start a Street Team? by guest blogger Rachel Dixon10 CHOICES WRITERS MAKE EVERY DAY

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