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These are my writing posts from my former blog, spanning 2009-2012. To see new writing posts, click on the blog tab above. To see these archived post organized by topic, click "For Writers" above.

Entries in indie publishing (9)


Why Self-Promotion Shouldn't Be a Dirty Word


Photo by Jason Rogers (click pic for link)Okay, so today I'm talking about something that I've touched on briefly before on my author blog, but after reading this post by the lovely and talented Lydia Sharp (who you should all follow on Twitter because she tweets some of the best stuff for writers), I thought I would expand on it here.

Lydia's post is about how we'll always need blogs for writers, which I agree with. I don't know where I'd be if I hadn't found blogs when I started querying two years ago. Bloggers were my writing saviors. But one of the things Lydia talks about in her post is authors promoting their books on their blogs.

Here are her thoughts:

"I do not blog about writing as a way to sell my books. I bet a lot of you didn't even know I have books out there available to purchase. I do. But that's not what this blog is about. This isn't my 'author blog', this is my writing blog -- a blog for writers. It's about writing and reading and publishing and how all of those go hand in hand.And just between you and me, it kind of annoys me when I see 'buy my book' pimpage in my Google Reader. I'm not following those blogs because I want to buy the author's book. If I want to buy your book, I'll find your book on my own, I'm not stupid, I know how to click on a link in your sidebar and how to use an Amazon search box..."

This part of her post inspired me to write today's post because I think this idea that authors shouldn't promote their own work on their own blog is a little extreme. When Nathan Bransford did a tongue and cheek post promoting his book, people jumped his case and I didn't understand all the ire. (I blogged about that here.)


I totally get that we don't want to be beat over the head with advertisements and book spam. God knows there are people out there who do it all day long on Twitter and such. And my guess is that those types of self-promoters are who many people are frustrated with (including me.) Obviously, that is the wrong way to go. Social networking and blogging are about building relationships and community. However, I also think swinging so far in the other direction in that promoting your own work at all is some sort of insult to your followers is a bit ludicrous.

I am a service-minded person. I genuinely write this blog hoping that my posts provide you guys with solid information or something to think about or tips or whatever it is that day. I take a lot of time to (hopefully) provide you with quality content. And I have kept my writing blog a writing blog and started a separate author blog because I didn't want to bait and switch you by changing the focus once I needed more of a broad online presence.

I enjoy the blogging process. I enjoy talking with everyone and hearing people's feedback on different topics. I love the blogging and social networking community.

BUT I also hope to sell books so that I can continue to follow my passion and do what I love for a living. And  if I told my agent or editor that I wasn't going to promote my book on my writing blog that I've spent two years building, they would look at me like I had grown a third head.

And I understand the thought of--you don't need to talk about your book because if I want to see if you have a book, I'll go look for it. But really, that's not the case in a lot of ways. If it's not obvious, I'm not going to go hunt down to see if a blogger I like has a book out. I don't  have that much time on my hands and there are hundreds of books I want to buy at any given moment. So if I have to "work" to find out if there is a book, I'm probably not going to.

I WANT bloggers I like to tell me about their book. No, I don't need a weekly post about it and a thousand "check out this latest review" tweets. (One of my personal goals is that once my book comes out, I don't turn into someone who only talks about things having to do with my book. I've seen that happen to many a blogger who transitioned from pre-pubbed to post-pubbed.) But mentioning your book and talking about it on occasion are good. Having a book link in your sidebar and even at the bottom of your posts (like I do below because you can't see sidebars in google reader) is a good way to advertise your book without smacking people in the face with it.

If someone stops by my blog for the very first time, I want it to be glaringly obvious that I have a book if they are interested. They shouldn't have to hunt the info down.

And I refuse to feel ashamed or apologetic about promoting my own book on my own blog. Blogging is a give and take relationship. I expect when I go to someone's blog that I am taking away something (information, a laugh, whatever) and in exchange I'm giving that blogger my attention to their platform/their book/whatever it is they may be promoting. It doesn't mean that I have to buy their book, but it means that I have to expect to be exposed to it.

So what are some things you can do to make sure you don't become one of THOSE people who give self-promotion a bad name?


6 Ways to Promote That Won't Make People Want To Punch You in the Face

1. Make sure your online content offers something to your reader. 
You are writing these posts for them. It is not about your own agenda. This is why posts in which the blogger whines about something never work. You're not offering the reader anything, you're looking for someone to soothe you--not a good blog post.


2. Be a cheerleader for others.
Like Lydia suggests in her post, promote other people's stuff if you've enjoyed it whether that be a book or a blog post or whatever.

3. Once you are published, do not contract "published author disease."
This disease is characterized by only posting about YOUR book ALL THE TIME and linking to review after review, awards, contests giving away your book, and what magazines you've made it into, etc. Some of that is fine because you're excited and want to a share. But make sure that kind of stuff is no more than 10-15% of the content/tweets/etc. you're putting out there.

4. Expand your online presence in a way that doesn't alienate your original readers and followers.
I knew I needed more of a reader-focused blog once my book was getting closer to publication. I needed a place where non-writing readers would want to visit and hopefully hang out. Had I kept this blog more broad in its focus, I could've just expanded that here. (Ah, hindsight.) But I hadn't. This was a writing blog. So instead of pulling the rug out from under that, I started a separate author blog on my website and kept this one the same. That way people could choose which kind of content they wanted.

5. Promote your books in a way that is very visible but still subtle.
I don't blatantly blog about my book unless I'm revealing a cover or blurb or something. I will, however, have a big fat glaring post the day it releases, just warning ya. ;) But in general, having a clickable cover in the sidebar, a book page with buy links, and a link at the bottom of each post (so that people who only read you in a reader can click) are all unobtrusive but effective ways to go about it.

6. Be genuine, friendly, and helpful.
Of all the things above, this is the most important. Social networking is about building genuine relationships. We can all spot a faker a hundred yards away.

So how do you guys feel about self-promotion? Do you get annoyed if a blogger talks about their book or are you fine with the give-and-take relationship? What are some self-promotion methods that you think are effective and non-annoying? What makes you want to punch someone in the face? :)


"Revved up and red-hot sexy, CRASH INTO YOU, delivers a riveting romance!" --Lorelei James, NY Times Bestselling author of the ROUGH RIDERS series
CRASH INTO YOU is now available for pre-order!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|



Five Ways To Guard Your Brand


Photo by jeaneeem (click pic for link)
So last week I got a lovely invitation from a friend of a friend to join Triberr (called the reach multiplier). Basically what happens with this service is you get invited to join a tribe of other bloggers (it's by invite only right now). If you accept, then what you agree to is that anytime one of your tribesmates blogs, a link to their blog is automatically tweeted by all member of the tribe. In return, you get the same treatment, you blog and your link autotweets from every one in your tribe's twitter accounts. The idea behind it is that you get exposed to lots more people and your reach is thereby amplified.
Sounds cool, right? And it is. But as I dug into exactly what it all meant, my control freak side took over. Did I really want to auto-tweet twenty-something different peoples blog links without really knowing them? What if they didn't blog content that I liked or that was relevant to those who follow me on Twitter?
I put out the question on Twitter to see if anyone had experience with Triberr and guess who tweets me back? One of the founders of Triberr (oh, the power of following keywords on Twitter). But guess what he told me? That I shouldn't use Triberr. He also sent a link to this post: Why You Shouldn't Be on Triberr.
It seemed a little odd that the owner would try to talk me out of joining, but I realized why. One of his reasons the service may not be for you is: Your Twitter Stream Is Your Brand
Well, bingo. That's exactly why I was hesitant. Everything I put out on the internet (whether I intend it or not) is part of my "brand." The things I retweet on Twitter aren't haphazard. I'm tweeting it because I: a) read it b) enjoyed it or found it informative and c) think my followers would appreciate it.
I do that because I want the people who follow me to trust that I am going to give them good content. (Well, in between my ramblings.) They (hopefully) know if I tweet or retweet a link that it has a high chance of being something worth clicking on.


UPDATE (10/30): I received another invite to Triberr but this time it was by a group that set up the expectation that you wouldn't autotweet something unless you approved of the content/post. So apparently, you can turn off the autotweet feature in Triberr and then only "approve" posts that you think your followers will enjoy. THIS is a much better idea IMO, so after all this, I've joined a tribe. I'll let you all know how it goes. But know that anything I retweet, I approved of first. :)

Your brand is the promise you make to those that follow you--whether that be on your blog, facebook, twitter, and your books for that matter. For instance, I know if Elizabeth Craig retweets something, it's often going to be something I find useful because she's proven to me that her content is consistently great. If she started tweeting random posts that weren't worth my time, she'd lose some of my "trust." I know if erotica author Tiffany Reisz tweets a link, there's a sixty percent chance it will involve nudity, lol. So of course I always click on hers. ;)
So don't be afraid to be protective of your brand. Sometimes it can feel like you're being snobby or something, but it's vital to keep your arms around it. For instance, I get many requests from people to read their book and feature it or them on the blog. For the record, I don't do reviews anymore anyway. But I've had to learn to say no a lot, which goes against my nature. I want to help people out. But if I don't know you or your writing (and don't have time to read it), I'm not going to feature you on my blog and let it look like an endorsement.
See it sounds stuck-up, doesn't it? But it's the promise I've made to you. If a book or author is featured here, it means that I either have read the book and loved it. Or I know the author and am familiar with the quality of their writing and their guest posts, etc. That's why I handpicked the Monday genre guests. I knew those ladies rocked at blogging, so I felt comfortable (and honored) to have them be a part of my blog.
So here are some suggestions...
Five Ways to Protect Your Brand
1. Don't accept every offer people give you to guest blog on your site.
Make sure you like their blog and know that they can provide something your readers will enjoy.
2. Don't accept every "free book" offered to you in exchange for featuring that author on your blog.
With the onslaught of self-publishing, there are a lot of people looking for places to be guests. They will offer you a free book in exchange for the promotion. That's cool. But what happens if you don't like the book or don't have time to read it? Vet it before you promote it to your readers.
3. Don't give 5-star reviews to all your friends on Goodreads and Amazon simply because they are your friend. 
If you really love the book, then great. But just agreeing to give a perfect review just because you're BFFs will teach people not to trust your reviews. (If you do reviews.)
4. Don't auto-tweet things you haven't looked at first and don't only tweet your friends posts just to be nice.
I don't expect my friends to retweet me just because we're buddies. I only want to be retweeted if the post is worth it.
5. Be very careful with group blogs.
There are many awesome group blogs out there. But be careful when deciding to join or start one. You need to know absolutely that the people you are blogging with are going to be a fit with what you want associated with you. This is why my group Tumblr blog lasted about, oh, five seconds before I went on my own. (Kristen Lamb would also argue that group blogs aren't effective because no one remembers the individual bloggers' names.)

So what do you think? Do you feel there is an inherent "brand" trust between people and their followers? How do you feel about services like Triberr? Has any blogger/tweeter ever lost your "follower trust"? Have you found yourself saying yes to feature people or books that may not fit on your blog?





“...a sexy, sizzling tale that is sure to have readers begging for more!" –Jo Davis, author of I SPY A DARK OBSESSION





CRASH INTO YOU is now available for pre-order!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|



Fill-Me-In Friday


It's that time of the week again to round-up my favorite links of the week! But first I want to direct you to a guest post I'm doing today over at the fabulous Writers in the Storm. I'd love if you could stop by and leave a comment! 


My Guest Post:


Okay, now on to the links...

On Writing:
Heartbreaking Borders Photo via GalleyCat -- This gave me the sads.
Twenty Obsolete Words That Should Make a Comeback by Matador Network. <--These are full of awesome.
When the Going Gets Tough at Writer Unboxed 
So How Am I Doing? (the difficulty of tracking your book sales and how Amazon rank doesn't mean much) by Books and Such Literary Agency
The New Facebook Subscribe Button at Mashable -- great explanation on who should use it and how
Happy Endings by Sierra Godfrey
What You May Have Missed 'Round These Here Parts:
(And even if you're not into the pics, the post is worth reading for my husband's comment and answer to this question at the bottom of the post.)
September 12 - 16, 2011

So those are my favorites of the week--what were some of your favorite links out there? It's your turn to fill me in. :) Hope everyone has a great weekend!



“...a sexy, sizzling tale that is sure to have readers begging for more!" –Jo Davis, author of I SPY A DARK OBSESSION



CRASH INTO YOU is now available for pre-order!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|



Standing Out in A Crowded Publishing Market by Jenn LeBlanc

Today I have a special treat for you guys--Author Jenn LeBlanc. We're all told that we're supposed to stand out, to think outside the box, and to provide the "same but different" in order to make it in the world of publishing. And Jenn has taken that advice and has run with it. I can't wait for you to read about what she's doing. And don't forget to leave a comment on today's post with your email because Jenn is generously offering up a copy of THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE as a prize!

Take it away, Jenn...

When I started writing The Rake And The Recluse, I never thought to finish it. When I did, I never really thought to publish it. When I started working on that, I realized I really needed a good hook to get people to pay attention. I thought it was a great story, as did my editors and beta readers, but convincing a stranger of that was pretty important. 

Romance is the number one selling genre last time I checked. That means there are a lot of books, and a lot of readers, and as a new author I really needed to stand out in order to survive. 

I decided to put together a package for my queries. Something that would set me apart from the crowd. I thought, as a photographer, shooting a great cover for my novel might do it. (What can I say, as a newb it sounded like a good idea.) Besides, I could always use it on my writers blog and try to get some buzz going. 

I started casting for a cover model, and found Derek Hutchins and we set up a photo shoot. It didn’t take long once we started shooting to realize there was something special happening. I called him in for a second shoot and started playing with some other scenes from the book. This was about a month before the release of the first iPad. As the shoot became more involved my brain kicked into overdrive and I wondered about shooting illustrations for the entire novel. I talked to Derek and he was game so I started doing page layouts and, well the rest is history. 

I queried my idea but most of what I got in response was ‘we love your voice, but we don’t know what to do with this.’ By then I already had the book, and the images. I was not turning back so I learned how to layout and export to ePub on my own. I designed five versions of the book so it could be read on any reader, and I self published it. 

It’s a fully illustrated romance novel. I suppose you could call it a cover on steroids. Romance covers are such an iconic 20th century thing, and it’s time to move on with the possibilities of the digital age of books. This book in print is expensive. The full color volume, of which there are exactly four copies so far, is about $140 retail. The trade paperback, with images, is $21.95. It’s beautiful, but if you want the true experience, it’s in the ebook. That is what it was made for. 

I have always tried to think outside the proverbial box, always wanted to have something different. That carried over into my book project. I wanted something new, something more, something eye-catching, an experience and not just a really good read. I wanted to utilize the new media to its fullest potential. 

My novel can be read on any reader--video and flash are not part of the book. The images are embedded in the text, so it flows properly and you don’t need special plugins or video to read it--that was important to me. I’ve seen the vooks and thought that the video might pull the reader from the story, particularly on readers where they would have to move to a computer or something else with video capability. 

I actually loved every minute of this project and as it gains momentum I’m having even more fun sharing it. I think it’s worth it just for the pictures or the story independently, but together you get a more lush and involved reading experience. 

I have done all my own marketing and promotion, and managed to catch the eye of the editors at Avon. We are still talking, but I’m not entirely sure I want to go that route now that I have done all the work myself. I truly appreciate the big publishers, and what they can offer to a writer, especially a first time author like myself, and weighing the benefits of a big publishing house, including their editors and experts and reach, against my own hard work and expectations has been monumentally difficult. It comes down to numbers and how much they would get from all of my hard work, considering it is complete, and would only need minor edits and modifications for them to publish it.

I think it’s fantastic, and it makes me feel great to be told the writing is on, and they would love to be involved, particularly since a year ago I couldn’t convince anyone to look at it. It’s a bit like my own personal Marilyn in the ice cream shop experience. 

In the meantime I’m working on restructuring the book to its original format, a six part serial novel. Something else nobody was interested in. I’m finishing edits on the second book, and preparing to shoot that in September or October for a February release. 

I’m also doing illustrations for other wonderful authors, and a few covers as well. I have found this great community that I love being a part of, and my own little niche to rest in- not that I get any rest. 

Standing out in the publishing market is difficult. There are very few people who can do what I have done. I happen to be a professional photographer, and that really helps. That is what gave my my niche, and what makes me who I am in the writing industry. You have to find yours as well. It isn’t easy. I did not plan this. I fell into it a bit backward, but here I am and I plan to keep going because this is quite honestly the most fun I have had in my entire life. Learning everything I can from other authors, both new and seasoned, has helped immensely. Now that I’ve done all the work the next one will be simple for me to get done.

Now it’s just a matter of staying on top of the new media curve. I have a few short stories coming out soon, and some free reads going on my website to help promote. Actually there is a hidden scene on my website, and you have to play around to find it. It’s pretty randy so fair warning. :) It’s an outtake from The Rake And The Recluse.

My book is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks and on iBooks from your iThingy. 

If you read it please track me down on Twitter, Facebook, or my blog to let me know what you think! I LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear from readers, both the good and the bad. That way my next book will only get better.

Thanks, Jenn! So what do y'all think? An illustrated romance novel, sign me up. :) What ideas have you had that you were afraid were too outside the box? How do you think your book will stand out? 

CONTEST: And don't forget to leave a comment with your email addy to enter the contest to WIN a copy of THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE!

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|

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