Thursday, November 1, 2012

The YAY or NAY of book signings

I live in a fairly small town.  Many people here know I’m a writer.  I can tell because they come up to me, they whisper about me, they talk to my relatives about me, they chase me down the aisle at WalMart…Okay, so that last one is a story we'll save for another day, but you get the idea.  I’ll be honest, it’s pretty amazing to meet people  who are fascinated by what I do.  And for that reason, whenever I am asked to do a book signing locally, I do it.  And I sell out every single time.  We aren’t talking about thousands of books, but that’s okay.  That’s not why I do it. 

When I was fist starting out, the people in my town rallied around me, buying my book and spreading the word around town.  So doing a book signing here is more about showing my appreciation than the money I get from doing it.  Although, money isn’t so bad either.

My publicist recently tried to schedule a book signing for me that was four hours away.  I declined.  Then she said, “What if I can schedule a TV interview for you in the same town that morning?”  Book signing, back on.  However, I don’t like to travel to do them, for the most part.  I don't like to spend a whole day on something like that when I could be writing instead.
The next time you consider pimping yourself via a book signing, ask yourself these questions first:
1.       How far away is the signing and how much money will it cost you in gas?
2.       Will you have to stay overnight?  If so, how much will the hotel room cost?  Food?  Entertainment?  (one bonus is, at least you can write it off)
3.       How many hours will you spend that you could have spent writing?

I’ve been to plenty of author book signings, and unless the person was named Stephen King, the lines usually weren’t that long.  I’ve been in a bookstore many times without even knowing beforehand that a signing was going on, and there, sitting all by his or her lonesome, is the author looking quite forlorn.  I guess what I’m trying to say is: get your expectations in check before doing the book signing.  And make sure you are fine with shelling out a bunch of dough and not getting a lot in return.  I’m not saying your signing won’t be a success, maybe it will be, and I hope it is.  But try not to expect it just in case it's not.  

There is one place I like doing signings: conventions.  But you have to make sure you are at the type of convention where a person would actually be interested in buying your book.  I did one last year at a conference for women and it was very successful.  The conference was all about supporting each other.  The woman in the stand next to me was pimping cupcakes with huge edible flowers on top that she made herself.  She did good as well.  Sometimes it just works. 

Now let’s shift the conversation a bit and talk about setting up.  I have a few rituals.  I always bring a tablecloth for the table.  After all, I am a woman.  It’s simple though, black and white.   I’m not into huge frills.  My books are the main attraction. 

On the table I have a basket which contains clear bags of candy.  The bags are wrapped with ribbon and my business card is attached.  These I give to anyone and everyone regardless of whether they buy my book.  I also have a metal cookbook stand with two of my books displayed (usually the two most recent books).  My books are stacked behind them, not too many, maybe five of each.  I reach under the table and replenish the supply when needed.  The metal stand looks like this:  
Next to the table is a giant metal easel.  On this I set the poster board I’ve made (see example at the top of the page).  This is what my first one looked like (without the easel and before I had more books to my name).  

Make sure you have more than one pen to sign your books with.  There's nothing quite like being properly prepared.  My favorite pen is a fine point Sharpie.  And always, no matter if they say their name is Bob, ask them how to spell it.  Or you'll end up with the one guy who spells Bob: Bobb or Bahb.  Trust me on this. 
Now, as to how many books to take with you and what your price point should be, first consider the venue itself and how many people are expected.  If it's a bookstore, they should be able to give you general idea of what to expect.  For a smaller venue, I like to have twenty-five copies of each of my books.  I also keep a clipboard handy so if I sell out, I can get the name and an address of the person I need to send the book to. 
Anyone who buys my book(s) also receives a bookmark and a keychain (if I have a bunch of them handy). 
As to how I group my books together, I sell them as singles for the price on the back of the book which, right now, is $12.99, BUT I also box some sets together since I have one series right now, and another one I'm starting in 2013.  I’ll put three together in the series and charge less, maybe $30.00.  They get a deal, I move more books. 

If you are tight on funds, and the venue is small, don’t worry so much about taking so many.  Maybe start with fifteen or twenty.  If you are only promoting one specific book, I’d say fifty or so for a medium-sized signing.  You have the rest of your life to use them for promotions, giveaways, or even to sell them.  Fancy that. 
I usually drag my husband along with me when I can because he makes me sound like the most talented person in the world, and since I tend to be fairly introverted when it comes to people I don't know, his outgoing nature comes in handy.
Now go move some books :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Writing to Infinity...and Beyond!

When I started writing my first novel a few years ago, I was determined to publish the traditional way.  But I didn’t know anything about anything.  I only knew how to write and what was relevant in my own genre.  I started a blog and interviewed several famous authors, asking what advice they would give to an aspiring writer.  One of the authors I interviewed had indie published with huge success, and after twisting my arm a bit, she convinced me to indie publish my first novel.  I literally read every post on J.A. Konrath’s blog (A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing) to get me up to speed and then took the plunge.   And I’ve never looked back.

When you’re first getting your feet wet, the best thing you can do for yourself is this: be the sponge.  Soak up every bit of knowledge and information you can from successful indie authors who have gone before you.  You need to understand what you’re getting yourself into and decide whether you have the time to be so much more than a writer, because you’ll have to be your own publicist too.  Here are a few things that worked for me:

Indie Writers Unite

I didn’t know many authors in the beginning so I created the Facebook group Indie Writers Unite.  I wanted a place where authors could get together to exchange ideas, questions, and information with each other while getting to know one another in the process.  This has been the best thing I’ve done for myself.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.  Some of the friends I’ve made on there have become like family to me. 

My suggestion is to seek out groups like this, join, and get involved.  Get to know your fellow authors.  Believe me when I say, it IS who you know in the book business, and having great author friends to hold your hand when you’re just getting started could mean the difference between a book that’s ranked 200,000 or 2,000.  Knowledge is power.

Blog, Tweet, Hang Out and Hustle with your Friends


I have two blogs, one for readers, one for writers.  I keep them separate because my readers aren’t really interested in all my tips for writers, and they aren’t coming to my blog for posts like that either.     

I started the writer blog first.  While I was writing my first novel, I spent a lot of time learning about writing.  I read everything I could get my hands on, attended seminars, paid attention to what other writers were doing that worked for them.  I wanted to share all the information I’d learned, and a blog was a great way to do it. 

I suggest starting a blog if you haven’t already, but you need to also figure out ways to drive traffic to it, or no one will see your posts.  Interviewing successful authors helped me because once the post went live, the author tweeted about it and shared it, and this attracted attention to my blog as well as new followers.  Don’t be afraid to ask a best-selling author to do a guest spot on your site.  Most times, they are grateful you asked and won’t turn you down. 

Once you get your blog going, get creative with it.  I recently started a monthly contest called “Chapter One” where I look over fifty first chapters, choose the one I feel is the best, and then I interview the winner and tweet about them.  I also offer an Amazon gift card to the winner.  It’s one way I can give back.  And I love it.  Making new author friends is one of the best things you can do for yourself when it comes to promotion. 

I started my reader blog after getting a bunch of emails from impatient fans anxious to get their hands on my next book.  I really loved their enthusiasm for my writing and their interest in getting to know me better, so I created a blog where I could write about random things that happen in my life.  It’s fun and keeps them connected to me while they are waiting for my next book to come out.


I’ve had so many authors ask me this: What’s the best thing you’ve ever done to promote yourself?  In the internet world, it would be Twitter.   I have a few rules I follow with Twitter.  One is not to spend all my time pimping my books and instead to interact with my followers.  I make exceptions to this rule only when I have a promotion going, like a free or discounted book, and let me tell you, Twitter really gets the word out.  But you need followers in order to do that. 

I follow most people back who follow me and do my best to respond to anyone who tweets me directly or RT’s one of my tweets.  I had a promotion going the other day and tweeted it several times.  Over the course of the promotion, it was retweeted about 100 times, and I tried to personally thank all the people who took the time to RT my tweet.  Why is this important?  Because it shows you care.  When someone does something to help you out, they deserve to be recognized for their efforts in a personal way.  Think about it.  I tweeted to all my followers, who retweeted to all their followers, and so on and so forth.  It definitely makes a difference in getting your name and your brand out there until you become someone like Stephen King who only needs to write ;).


I’m a multitasker who likes to have several irons in the fire at the same time.  I try to keep an ear latched to the writing world so I know things like when an excellent website is opening for promotions, or when a blog tour is starting that I want to participate in.  Speaking of blog tours, I usually run two every year on Indie Writers Unite.  Blog tours are excellent ways to introduce new readers to who you are.  I have sent signed books to winners who have gone on to give me five-star reviews because they liked my books.  For me, right now, they’re worth it.

Being a writer takes time.  Newbies are often overwhelmed when they realize how much work it really takes to keep your books moving, but you need to ask yourself what your goals are as a writer.  You probably started writing because of your passion for words.  Don’t you want to share that passion with the rest of the world?  I imagine you do.  With the right tools, a good book, and a lot of dedication, you can achieve great success as an indie writer.  Best of luck to you all!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pricing Your eBooks -- What Works, What Doesn't

I get asked a lot for my opinion on eBook price points, so today I'll talk about what works for me. 

When I first published, I started out at .99 and I kept my books at this price for one year.


A few reasons:

1. I didn't have an established fan base.
2. I was just creating my brand.
3. At the time, .99 eBooks were hotter than the Vegas strip in July.

Note that third one.  And not the "stripping" part ;) One year ago, a majority of books in my genre in the top twenty were .99 books.  And many of those were John Locke's novels, but there were several other 99 cent books as well.  Then something happened.  Amazon changed their algorithms (in my opinion) and now many of the .99 books aren't being promoted like they used to be.  I do still see them pop up now and again on my "recommended book" lists, but not like they used to.

One year ago, half of the top twenty eBooks in the mystery & thriller genre were .99.  Not only that, to see a book priced above $3.99 was rare in the top twenty.  Now, (August 2012) here's how it shapes up:

#1   $12.99
#2   $12.99
#3   $12.99
#4   $1.99 (this is a 60 page Kindle Short)
#5   $12.99
#6   $12.99
#7   $9.99
#8   $4.99
#9   $14.99
#10 $.99
#11 $12.99
#12 $4.99
#13 $9.99
#14 $12.99
#15 $14.99
#16 $4.99
#17 $13.99
#18 $12.99
#19 $12.99
#20 $3.99

There's only one .99 book in the top twenty, and it's so short, a person could finish it in thirty minutes, hence the price.  There's not another .99 book on the list until #69.  In fact, in the top #100 right now in mystery & thriller, only three novels are .99.  Hmm. 

Amazon does an excellent job at promoting indie authors, and they have outstanding platforms as well such as their Thomas & Mercer imprint, among others.  But I heard a rumor last year that the "Bix Six" publishing companies were a little miffed their books were being outsold by indie books.  While I'm not sure that's true, one look at the difference in the current top 100 list makes me wonder what happened and why...

But let's get back to my thoughts on eBook pricing.  When I first started out, for me, .99 was the way to go.  At that price readers who'd never heard of me weren't afraid to "take a risk" and check out my books.  They didn't have much to lose.  Many newbies either don't grasp the importance of this concept or don't care.  They price their book at $5.99 or whatever amount they think is fair, telling themselves their novel is worth much more than a mere .99.  And although that's probably true, here's what ultimately happens: no one buys their book. I wouldn't even spend $5.99 on a book by an unknown unless I'd seen rave reviews or heard about it. I'll admit it--I'm a tightwad.  But how many others out there are like me?  More than you think.

It's hard for me to say if the same strategy I used is as effective now given all the recent changes this year, but with the right promoting, I still feel it's the way to go.  At first.  Not forever.

Once you develop a fanbase, I suggest raising your price.  Especially as you continue putting more books out.  This was really hard for me.  I kept worrying about what all indie writers worry about--what if no one buys my books when I raise the price?  I went from .99 to $2.99 with the release of the third novel in my Sloane Monroe series.  I priced all three at $2.99, and ever since then I've made more money than I ever did at .99.  Now I'm gearing up to price one of my books at $3.99 to test the waters.  I'll put one little toe in at first, swish it around, and see how it goes. 

eBook Price Sweet Spot

Are there certain prices that seem to keep readers buying more than others?  Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, seems to think so.  In a recent inteview he said books priced between $2.99 to $5.99 are selling better than .99 to $1.99.  Click HERE to read the rest of the article.

Of course, free books sell better than anything else, but I would only suggest doing this for short periods of time as an incentive and to build your brand and get your name out there.

Don't Be Afraid to Try New Things

My birthday is in August.  I'm always looking to try new and exciting incentives, so I decided to make all three novels in my Sloane Monroe Series .99 for one day only on my birthday. 

Before I get into the results, I want to suggest you put your price change in the afternoon before your incentive to ensure enough time is allotted for the change.  And then at that same time the day of the promotion, you need to change your price back on Amazon.  Barnes&Noble and Sony Kobo updates a lot faster. 

Now to the results.  Here's how many more books I sold than the day before the incentive:

Black Diamond Death +66

Sinnerman +77

I Have a Secret +400

Whispers of Murder (Novella) +17

So in one day, I sold 560 more copies of my books than the previous day.  And yes, they were .99, BUT I still made more more money than the previous day.  That wasn't my goal though.  My goal was to improve my rankings, and I did.

Better Ranking = More Sales

I Have a Secret outsold everything else, seeing a ranking increase from 6,346 to 281 in the kindle store because I ran a promotion on eReader News Today to go along with my own promotion. 

Good luck everyone, and may your books do well at any price point :)  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pimping Your New Release - My Checklist

Updated July 2014

I've changed a lot of things since I posted this a couple years ago. Here's a list of what I'm doing now to promote a new release.


Before the release date I create buzz by getting my fans ready for the release. I give an approximate release date, release the first chapter of the book, create a banner teaser, post the book cover.


New banner goes up. I post links for the book on Facebook, Twitter, my authors pages, etc. I create a blog post to announce the new book.

Once or twice a month I do a "Free Giveaway Sunday" on my Facebook page. If I have a new release out, I'll give away copies of the book one Sunday and things pertaining to the book during that month.


Don't forget to update all your other book pages when first publishing a new book.

For me this includes book sites Amazon, Barnes &Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, and Goodreads.

On my product pages, under the description, I always put "Also by Cheryl Bradshaw" and then the titles of my other books.  It's great to show you are established with more than one title under your belt, and it's also a free way to promote yourself and let readers know the order of a series.

Add book to my page on Author Central.

I also update all blogs, websites, Facebook pages, etc. with the new book, links, banner, etc.


I usually update my current bookmarks whenever a new book comes out. I use Print Runner. I sent bookmarks to fans, my street team, etc.


I send out a newsletter every time I publish a new book or run a sale.


I create a targeted Facebook ad for my new release, and I plan a BookBub ad as well. After the BB ad, I run ads on Free Kindle Books and Tips, BookBasset, BookSends, and eReader News Today.


Each time you publish a new book, there are certain sites you should be active on that you'll want to update with your latest release.  Here's a list of sites I frequent:

Authors Den
You can create your own account and add your books.  They have over 1 million hits on their site every month.  You also can track your stats to see just how many people are looking at your individual profile and your book pages.  All this is free.  You can pay to upgrade/advertise.

Aside from adding your latest novel, you can and should run a giveaway. Information on that is also on the page I linked to above.
On Digg, you can submit a link to your new novel.  I usually blog about it and then link to my blog.  I use this site whenever I run a contest as well or am doing any type of donations.

Reddit works like Digg.  You actually can just copy/paste what you submitted to Digg right into the form on Reddit. 

I have a Pinterest account and an entire board dedicated to my books.  To get an idea of what you can do with yours, you can see mine HERE.

On CrimeSpace, you can create an account and then blog or tweet from there about your book(s).  This is a site primarily for crime/mystery/thriller writers only.

Library Thing Giveaway
On Library Thing, you can upload all your books from Amazon and also run giveaways through their authors promotions program.  If you've never been on the site before, you can sign up and then find your books and select that you are the author.  From there, it takes a day or two to get approved.  Then you can list a giveaway and they accept both eBook and print, which is nice! 

With Authorgraph, you can add your books and be notified when an author wants an autograph for their book.  They also feature different authors every month.

Google+ is a fast-growing way to share your information with others.  You can create a profile, add your books, your links, etc.  But what I like about it is that when someone searches you on Google, your profile comes up on the right, just like it does on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Benefits of KDP Select Free Days

Before you read this article, read THIS ONE.

I started in KDP Select in January 2012 and had a really stellar year. Much of my success that year was due to all of my books reaching #1 free when I used my KDP Select free days and then Amazon's algorithms pushing my books up the charts when they came off free. This worked like a charm for a while until Amazon changed their algorithms and books no longer skyrocketed when they went back to regular price.

I don't expect anything to last forever, and as an author, just because you hop on the "trending train" doesn't mean you shouldn't keep trying all sorts of different things. If you put all your eggs in one basket, when that basket empties, you might find yourself left with nothing. And then it's back to the drawing board.

Two years later, I have a couple novellas in KDP Select, but my full-length novels are on multiple sites. Do I still think KDP Select is a good idea? Yes, if you are a new author.

What does a new author need?

1. To get noticed.

2. To find readers.

3. To establish a fan base.

I believe KDP Select is still a great option for newbie writers. Readers don't mind taking a chance on you if your book is free, but as an unknown author, even if you price it for what you think your work is worth, very few readers want to pay good money for an author that is unknown.

The key to success if you're putting your novel up for free is to let others know about it.  To maximize your chances, I've created a list that gives you all the places you should notify when your book is going free.  Believe me when I say, it's worth every second of your time to prepare for your free days well in advance.

Facebook Groups:

When I first wrote this post, I included about 100 Facebook pages where you could pimp your book freebie (with the group admin's permission, of course). However, one of the latest trends I've seen too much lately is authors marking other authors as "spamming the page" even when you post your book on a site dedicated to author freebies AND with permission. As someone who is opposed to spamming in any way, shape, or form, I was disappointed to see this happen to good law-abiding authors who didn't deserve it.

The first time some random person reports your post as spam (and you won't even know who reported it as misuse, by the way) you get slapped by FB with a two week probation. Do it twice, you could lose your account entirely. I have an author page on Facebook and run my own paid ads on there quite a bit, so the risk just isn't worth it, even though I wasn't doing anything wrong. I'd rather pay for ads than go to Facebook jail. So I'd like you all to consider using your Facebook author page to your advantage, and I'll try to carve out some time in the near future for a post on making the most of your Facebook author page. For now...let's move on.

Main Book Sites to Notify:

Before we get started, if you would rather pay $25 to have someone else notify 25 sites for you, consider Ebook Booster and also additional exposure with Fiverr.

Awesome Gang

Fill out the form.

Bargain eBook Hunter

You can request your book be featured free or pay $10.00 to guarantee placement.  See page for details.  If you can shell out the five bones for a guaranteed placement, do it.  You want as much publicity on your free pages as you can get.  Click HERE for the $5.00 form.


Fill out the form. They have about 25,000 subscribers and are growing every day. Books must have five reviews.

Book Goodies

Fill out the form.

Book Marketing Tools

So...this site does a lot of the work for you for a price of $14.99. They submit your freebie to 55 websites. This is a great way to go if you don't want to spend hours doing it yourself.

Digital Book Today

Good news and bad news with this one.  If your book is new, it probably won't get promoted.  You need a minimum of 30 reviews and an average of 4.2 stars or more to promote your book on the day it's free.  You will also need to pay.  Anthony charges $30 per day. 

Discover Free Books

On this site, they are running a promotion where you pay $5.00 and they will promote you all over the place.  Check out their page for more details.  NOTE: You MUST give them a seven day advance notice minimum.

Ebooks Addict

Fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

eBook Deal of the Day UK

Fill out the form. They only accept the romance genre.

eBooks Habit

Fill out the form. They offer paid promotions as well. Books must have at least three reviews and no graphic sex scenes.

eBook Lister

Fill out the form

Ereader News Today

Fill out form. NOTE: He does not guarantee that he will post your book and selects books with the MOST reviews and highest rankings first. 

eReader Perks

Fill out the form.

eReader Utopia

You can submit freebies and any books you are promoting up to $2.99.

Flurries of Words

He charges $5 to list your book for free. 

Free Book Dude

Fill out the form.

Free Booksy

Fill out form.

Free Digital eReads

Fill out the form.

Free eBooks Daily

$5 to promote your freebie.

Free Kindle Books and Tips

Fill out the form.  Book needs to have an average of at least four stars to be considered. 

Good Kindles

List your freebie at three different price points, the lowest being $7.95 and the highest $19.95. As far as followers, they have over 1,600 on Facebook, and that's all I could find out on their page.

Indie Book of the Day

Follow the instructions on their site. No erotica.

Just Kindle Books

Like their page to unlock the form.

Kindle Freebies

On this page they list their email address which you use to email your freebie.

Kindle On The Cheap

From what I can tell, you fill out the contact form.  Include name of book, your name, dates it will be free, link.

Kiss My Freebies

They do have some requirements including a minimum of ten reviews and a 4.0 average ranking.

Kobo Book Hub

IF your book is on Kobo, they have their own submission form.

Orangeberry Book Tour

It is $9.99 for two days, and they will pimp you on their Twitter and Facebook pages.  You will receive ten tweets, five per day.

Pixel Of Ink

You can submit up to 30 days in advance.


Fill out the form.


A continually growing fan base which includes over 17,000 Facebook likes. Excellent and cheap for your .99 sale days.

Talisman Book Publishing

Fill out the form.

That Book Place

Fill out the form.


Fill out the form.  They charge $25, and I am not sure what the reach is.  They have over 4,000 Facebook followers as of 12/2012.

The eReader Café

They have a form for freebies as well as .99 books. Books must be at least 120 pages.

Wanton Reads

For romance/erotica.


It's $8 for one book and one book excerpt. No erotica, no gore.


Tweet these guys and they will retweet your freebie for you.  I have found three that always RT, and they are the ones below in red.  As for the others, a lot of times they don't RT.!/AuthorKarma
This is a Twitter site. You tweet your book announcement to them starting with the word "announcement" and they will re-tweet it.

@kindlebookpulse will RT your promo, just send them a DM.