Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Keep Your Readers to Yourself!

Ha ha. I'm still giggling over the title. :-)

The topic of this post is something I've stewed over for a very, very long time, and is somewhat of a pet-peeve of mine. Today, I finally hit my "endurance threshold."

We blog for a reason--we want to reach out to people. We want to be read, for the most part. We want to share our thoughts and desires and feelings. We hope there are people actually reading what we're publishing.

And we get and keep readers by doing a few things:
  • Posting frequently (I know, I know. I'm really bad at this. Shame on me. :-))
  • Talking about things others want to read about
  • Being intelligent (like, totally, youll like, lose a lot of readers if your like, not on the same level with them. You know? :-)) (*Andrea shudders.... Must.... fix.... grammar....           She resists.)
  • Quoting/mentioning others
  • Using fun and interesting articles as reference
  • Bringing the readers back
A lot of people have the above down pat. But one thing they forget all the time, is to make sure their readers come back after checking any external sites listed or quoted.

Here's an example.

I really like reading Amanda Hocking's blog. She's upfront, honest, and obviously doing something right. She started out small - one book up on Kindle/Nook, and five months later, five books published and thousands and thousands and thousands of eBooks purchased by readers.

One of my favorite posts on her blog, found here, talks about what she did to become successful. She calls it "The Epic Tale of How it All Happened." Another favorite post is here, titled "Pretty Much Everything I Have to Say About How to Do What I Do." There's a TON of excellent information in this post. I think I've read it a gazillion times.

For this example to work, go back and read the two posts I mention above. Then explore around her blog a bit--familiarize yourself with her. Go. Now. :-)

You should be back after having read the above information. How long did it take you? Ten minutes? Twenty? Thirty? Did you forget where you'd started; what had referred you there? Did you close your Amanda Hocking Blog window and find mine still open?

If you followed the instructions above perfectly--acting as a curious reader would--you didn't return for a while. If I hadn't altered the html, you might not have returned at all.

How can people return to your blog if they don't even remember they were there at one point, or that it was the starting spot? And why would they want to click "back" a gazillion times to return, if they do remember?

This is why I like to add a very small, simple bit of code into the html of my posts. I call it the Keep Your Readers to Yourself code. Here it is:


Many of you are familiar with it already, but perhaps aren't sure how to use it, or forget what it is or how to use it correctly, etc.

Here's how you do it:
  • In your post (if using blogger), click on "Edit HTML"
  • Find your link. It'll look something like this:
    • < a href="http://www.kilenyaseries.com/">The Kilenya Series Website < /a>
  • Then, insert target="_blank" here:
    • < a href="http://www.kilenyaseries.com/" target="_blank">The Kilenya Series Website< /a>
What this does is open a new window when someone clicks on links in your post. This makes it much, much easier for readers to return once they've finished perusing the external links you've provided. You should be doing this every time you point someone away from your blog/website, since one of the best ways to retain readers is to help them find their way back.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Book Review: Fall

Author: Jennifer Hurst
Jennifer's website.

From the back cover:
Women and construction shouldn’t mix.  At least, that is what the client, Mr. Blackwell, thinks when Twenty-one year old Julia D. Halstead is promoted to project manager and tasked with remodeling a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse into a bed and breakfast in the tourist town of Torrey, Utah. However, the schoolhouse contains a dark secret that has been hidden for over a hundred years.  A secret that will unleash the furies of Hell and cause the Angels in Heaven to weep as ethereal brothers, Matthew and Nathan battle over Julia’s very soul.

Jennifer has the ability to create awesome "tense" scenes. Her characters were well developed, and it was easy to see the differences between Matthew and Nathan. Jennifer did a great job at showing the "evil" sides and the "good" sides of these two.

The premise is excellent, and the setting wonderful (I've been to Torrey and it really is beautiful). I enjoyed the side characters Jennifer included, and JD is very unique, especially for a woman working in construction.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Writing Prompt: Cliches

I'm the Friday Editor for gather.com's official writing group, Writing Essentials. I'm in charge of content for Friday, along with posting a writing prompt every week. The responses are a lot of fun to read - there are some great writers on that site - and I've enjoyed getting to know everyone.

Using writing prompts as a way to further our skills is an excellent idea - especially if those prompts were made up by someone else. (This prevents choosing the "easy way out." :-))

I'm going to post my prompts on this blog as well. If you'd like to join in, simply write a post on your blog in response to the prompt, following the rules I mention, then come back here and comment on this post with a link to your blog. Then readers can follow along, seeing which direction you took.

Today's Prompt:

I'm obsessed with all sorts of dos and don'ts, especially those involving the written word. During the past week or so, I've mulled over cliches. Most editors will tell their authors never, ever to use them, and the reason is that they weaken the writing. Readers glaze over those phrases, never internalizing them.

This isn't good.

Of course, how do we know we're using cliches? They tend to slip in when we're least expecting them, when we're not paying attention. I propose we force ourselves to recognize these phrases. :-)

My challenge:
Write a poem/short story/memoir/essay/advertisement/novel/whatever else you feel like writing (fiction and non-fiction). It can be humorous or serious.

  • You must use three cliches.
  • You must start out your writing with "It was a dark and stormy night," which counts as one of the three clich├ęs.

And that's it! Good luck!

You have until Thursday, August 18, 2011 at midnight. (Yes, I'm giving you a deadline. Isn't that awful of me? Muwahahah!!!)

Don't forget to put a link to your blog in a comment when you've completed the challenge!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Why Only Ninety-Nine Cents?

Before getting into the details of today's post, here's some info:
  • The Key of Kilenya is on Blog Tour!
  • July Sales for The Key of Kilenya are available for viewing.
Go here for more information on both of the above (including reviews from the Blog Tour).

Now, then. On to today's topic.

I've had a gazillion people ask why I'm selling The Key of Kilenya for only $0.99. The reason is simple: people (usually) aren't willing to spend more than $1.00 for an eBook they've never heard of, from an author they don't know.

Let's face it: people (usually) aren't willing to spend more than $3.00, $4.00, or $5.00 for an eBook from an author they know.

Why? Because it's not the physical book. Readers don't really "own" it, it can't be signed, and they can't proudly display it on their bookshelves.

We buy eBooks because we love reading. We find joy in the story, not the method in which it is delivered to us. We buy printed books because we're traditional and we love the feel of the pages, and for other nostalgic reasons. (Or because we can't afford an eReader yet. :-)).

A word of advice: Stop thinking about the royalties you would be getting if you sold your book at a higher price, relax, and let things naturally roll forward! :-)

The whole point of putting a book out at $0.99 is so more people will buy it. If you sell your book at $10.00, you might have 10 people download it. And they might tell their friends, but only a couple of friends will actually buy it at that price. Now, if you sell it for $1.00, you'll have many more people purchase it, and they'll tell their friends, and many of their friends will be willing to download the book for $1.00.

Eventually, your royalties from $1.00 will far exceed your royalties from $10.00. And it's exponential: more and more people will read and tell people and more and more will buy it. You'll reach far more readers than you would if you were selling the book at a higher price.

And isn't reaching readers the whole point of writing?

I'm not saying you should sell all of your books at $0.99. No - only your first book (or a book that is a good example of your writing) should be sold at this price. For the Kilenya Series, books two through six will be $2.99 each. By the time readers get to book two, they'll know if they like the story or not and if it's worth it to spend the $2.99.

I didn't make up this formula. It's been successfully used by many eBook authors, including Amanda Hocking and JA Konrath. (Many thanks to Jenni James for opening my eyes to this route!)

EBook publishing has to be different from traditional. Its strengths are different, and readers aren't getting the same thing.

I've seen far too many successful authors try to sell their eBooks at ridiculous prices, and I (like many others) am waiting for them to figure things out before I buy. :-)

Now then. How can we (yes - me, too!) sell more books if we're not writing? Andrea, and everyone else, get off the internet and get to your stories! :-)