Category Archives: Marketing

Facebook: My New Frenemy

Oh Facebook, you’re like the girl who tells you she loves your shoes only to follow it up with: “If you like that style.”

Yeah, Facebook you’re my new frenemy.

As you probably know, Facebook has implemented a new promote button to fan pages and profiles. Here’s the simple version:

1. Any status update you put on Facebook is only seen by a percentage of your friends and fans.

2. However, for a nominal fee you can promote a status update so it is seen by more of your fans/friends and their friends.

My fan page has 952 fans. These are people who’ve opted in to hear news from me. I love these folks. They’re awesome.

On November 26 (a Monday), I posted a photo of a contest winner with a link to another giveaway I was having. According to the Facebook gurus, adding a photo increases your chances of being seen on a newsfeed. Four people liked the post and one fan commented on it. Ninety people or 9.4 percent of my fans saw the post. We can agree this is not a great percentage. However, if I paid to promote the post for $10, all of my fans would see it (potentially). Or I could pay $15 and reach at least 1,680 of my fans and their friends.

On November 16 (a Friday), I posted a quote from a positive review for Passion Creek with a link. I paid  $15 to promote this post. Note: The amount you are charged to promote varies depending on how many fans you have and how many folks you could reach. More than 9,100 people saw this post – 7,975 of whom saw it because I paid to promote it. Of those, 231 liked the post, eight commented on it and three clicked the link to the review.

On November 25 (a Sunday), I used HootSuite to schedule and post a status update with a link to a Tumbler of men reading. Fifty-seven people saw the post. That’s 6 percent of my fans. No likes. No comments. That is the kind of result that makes very unladylike words spill from my lips. Why the difference? According to all those Facebook gurus it’s because Facebook’s algorithms rank posts from other sources that go to Facebook (a scheduler like HootSuite) at about the same level as pond scum.

End result? Facebook can still be a marketing platform for you but you going to end up paying for that reach – even if you’re targeting your own fans who want to hear from you. And you won’t just be paying with money. You’ll be paying with time by hand-posting status updates on Facebook instead of using a scheduling application.

Paying to promote gets your status updates seen by more people. However, if you’re going to go this route, I’d recommend using it judiciously unless you want to be paying out the wazoo.

Final thought? I can’t wait for the new My Space platform to send me my invite.

Should Writers Buy Ads?

Oh my, the lagoon feels awesome today. Just what I needed in the midst of promo madness for Passion Creek.

Hold on a second, let me sink a little lower in the lagoon’s fizzy jets. Ah, yes, it’s right between my shoulders. Love. It.

Okay, what was I talking about? … That’s right promo. I had an interesting conversation via Twitter with a few folks recently about why would an author (or publisher) buy an ad on a specific book blogger’s site and what they wanted from the site. Then, I had a conversation with a lovely group of authors who said they rarely, if ever, bought ads.

So should authors buy ads and if they do, what should they consider when making an ad buy? Continue reading

Nine Months and Counting…

I’m having a baby!!  Gotcha! 🙂

No, it’s not a boy or a girl…it’s a book.  (Hopefully not a hard-back! Can you imagine that trying to come out of the birth canal?)

Okay, I know pretty cheesy.  But considering the anxiety and excitement my news has brought to me and my family, one would think it was the same thing.  My ghost romance, Wanted: One Ghost was recently picked up by Crescent Moon Press. The conception took nearly eighteen months but now comes the hard part–the birth for all to see.

A few days ago I realized, I’m counting down the days/weeks and months along with my youngest–no, she’s not expecting (thank God) but she’s starting her senior year in high school.  In approximately nine months, both her and I will have a whole new life spread before us.  We are both nervous and excited.

I think I felt the same emotions when I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter nearly 21 years ago.  Would everything be okay? Was I going to be a good mother? How in the heck was I going to give birth and survive, even though millions of women have been in the same boat since the beginning of time?

I’m not the first to have my book (baby) published (born) and I won’t be the last.  But the preparations needing to go into a healthy delivery are just as important.

A few weeks ago I asked some of my fellow authors who’ve been there/done that/got the t-shirt what they did to prepare for their exciting day of delivery and received some wonderful insight. One friend sent me out to Christine Nolfi’s blog site:

Another sent me to Nancy J. Cohen’s post about her Promotion Checklist:

And others just sent me their own ideas.  All are great words of wisdom and I equated them to the wonderful women friends who’d been in the same boat I had, while I was pregnant with my first in Hawaii.  We look to others who’ve been there before, we want the good, the bad and the ugly truth so we know what to expect when we are expecting, what to prepare for and what to avoid.

That is what I’ve found so refreshing with all of my great writing groups I belong to–everyone is willing to share experiences and even learn from a newbie who might have a nugget or two to share.  And what’s even better, I haven’t met many of the people I’ve talked to face to face and yet they are willing to share so much.

So with that in mind, I am sharing here too.  I want to pass along the great links above (which I felt were very helpful in giving me a sense of where I needed to be and when) and hope to be able to pass the torch to another writer on the verge of giving birth to their newest creation.

If there are any choice words of wisdom to share with me (from those who’ve been there-or those who might have questions) please let me know.  I would love to hear from you all about experiences and expectations.



Going Hollywood: Making Book Trailers

I’ll start off by letting you know this post is going to be Mac centric. That doesn’t mean I don’t have anything for you PC users out there. I do. Here is the best advice ever for PC users:


OK, that was smarmy of me. I apologize. Sort of.

Whether you use a Mac or a PC, there are a ton of movie editing apps and programs you can use to create a book trailer. Here is a comparison for PC and here for Mac. I use iMovie, which comes with my Mac. With this software, I can use themes to create fun little slideshows with still images or I can use trailers to create video clips that look like movie trailers. The best part of this is that is is so simple to do I could do it drunk. It probably wouldn’t look pretty and the spelling would be atrocious, but it’s possible is my point. All you have to do to use iMovie is drag and drop files from one window on your screen to another. You can add in title cards, dissolves, sound clips, music and more.

I love book covers, but I find book trailers that are just pans of the book cover kind of boring. Not saying they can’t be done and end up extraordinary, but those are few and far between. My recommendation is to go to a stock art site and buy stock video. My favorite site is istockphoto. You can type in some key words and find exactly the type of video you need. A word of warning: If you’re like me, you will get sucked into this site, so be prepared to spend some time. Also, istockphoto has still photos and music files, so really it’s a one stop shop for book trailers.

No, I don’t own stock in the company, but really I should considering how much money I spend there between Avery Flynn stuff and client photos and videos for the Evil Day Job.

Another option is to work with a company that produces book trailers. One company whose trailers I really like is Circle of Seven Productions. I haven’t worked with them myself, but they do some beautiful videos. Another possibility is Jeffrey Somers who made Amanda Brice’s super cute young adult novel book trailer. The narrator’s voice is just sooooo 14.

Ready for some examples? Yay, me too!

From Circle of Seven Productions:


From WRW’s Amanda Brice created by Jeffery Somers:


And from little ole me and my Mac:

The Promo Dilemma

The awesome news? Passion Creek, book three in the Layton series, is coming out Aug. 31.

The not-so-awesome news? I only have two months to develop a marketing plan and get reviews lined up.


It’s the promo dilemma. Sure, my publisher markets the books (thank you Evernight Publishing, thank you), but that doesn’t let me off the hook. This means I’m on the hunt for a virtual book tour company. I’ve worked with several companies in the past and each were great but not that star-crossed lovers type of perfect fit. Come on, I’m a romance novelist, of course I shoot for that. 🙂

I started sending out feelers the other day, looking for recommendations and I received and interesting reply: Why not just do it yourself?

The short answer is a lack of time. I’ve organized book tours before. It’s frickin’ exhausting. It also steals me away from writing, from the old day job (don’t tell the boss) and my family – not necessarily listed in order of importance.

When I hire a virtual book tour company, I have a partner that does all the legwork. All I have to do is write a few guest posts and do a few interviews. Heaven!

That said, I’ll still be lining up guest blogs, interviews and reviews myself. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing authors and book bloggers who are very generous in letting me plunk myself down at their blog and chat with their readers. I cannot express how amazing these folks are.

So, anyone have any virtual book tour company recommendations?

The Adventures of Supermermaid #1

I am a comic book geek, dyed in the wool from the tender age when I could lift my first Archie Comics Digest. Casey and I loved Elfquest in middle school. I moved on to Arkham Asylum and the X-Men Phoenix Saga and John Byrne’s Next Men when I was a teen. In college, my boyfriend gave me a graphic novel by that guy Tori Amos was always writing into her songs–at my first Dragon*Con, Charles Vess drew the Sandman in silver paint pen inside my first edition hardcover of The Wake. It’s one of my most prized possessions.

I’ve been to comic book conventions before, spoken to artists and authors, found new things and scavenger hunted for signatures. But this past weekend at HeroesCon 2012 was my very first time BEHIND A TABLE.

I snuck into the comics industry through a hidden passage in the hedgerow. My collaborator on The Wonderland Alphabet: Alice’s Adventures Through the ABCs and What She Found There (just released last week!) is the amazing artist Janet K. Lee. Janet and I have been friends for over a decade–we worked at the same book wholesaler in TN. I was the writer; she was the artist. I started out in magazines and picture books, she started selling in local art shows and galleries. I went on to get a novel published. Janet went on to win a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for Return of the Dapper Men (written by Jim McCann, another friend who used to work at that same book wholesaler, coincidentally enough).

When the publisher of Dapper Men (Archaia Entertainment) asked Janet if she had any other projects lying fallow that they could publish while she and Jim worked on a sequel, Janet mentioned the ProtoPulp Art Show in which I had helped her create an Alice in Wonderland alphabet book…and the rest, as they say, is history.

Since Archaia is a publisher of fine comic books, I suddenly found myself stepping over the threshold of the comic book world. My official title is “creator.”

Talk about a dream come true.

Yes, comics is a whole other genre and therefore a whole other world, full of fabulously talented people and a boatload of new best friends to make. I was like a kid in a candy store.

Only, at HeroesCon, I had to work at the candy store. Here are some things I learned:

1.) The convention floor opens an hour before doors open to the public. Be there as early as you can. It may take you 5 minutes to set up your table, but before the doors open is the only time the other creators have to walk around and meet people and buy things. I signed a ton of books and prints, just while setting up.

2.) Artists like to support other artists, especially at HeroesCon. If you are a comic book geek, some creators will offer you a “trade” of your book for theirs (or a bunch of theirs). Ultimately, it’s all about loving what you’re doing and getting the word out to like-minded people. I didn’t get to walk the show floor much, but the couple of times I was offered a trade, I took it.

3.) You will get a MASSIVE thigh work out. This is not something I had anticipated. My feet hurting, sure–those floors are uncarpeted cement and very unforgiving. I am one of those people who stands when they talk to someone. I stood most of Friday. I sat a few times on Saturday when I got tired, or I needed to sign something, but I would pop right back up again when a new person walked by. All this up-down-up-down was the equivalent of eight straight hours of Catholic Mass. When I woke up Sunday morning to walk to the bathroom, I almost collapsed in pain.

4.) You will not eat. Or drink, much. As a Dragon*Con regular, I am never without a Powerbar and a bottle of water. Which is good, because we never got a break to leave the table. Ever. Once, the Fairy Godboyfriend brought me a leftover slice of pizza from his lunch. Once, Anya Martin from the Womanthology table brought me a frappuccino back from her Starbucks run. Once, on Saturday, during a lull, I went to the bathroom. I returned to find a line at the table and three items needing my signature immediately.

Janet never left the table the entire time. I told you–she’s amazing. Of course, she also does San Diego Comic Con every year, so she’s a seasoned pro. I’m still working up to that level of awesome.

Due to a work emergency of the Fairy Godboyfriend’s, I was whisked away early and forgot to say goodbye to a few people. I promise to make it up to them at Dragon*Con or Baltimore ComicCon, or New York ComicCon. If you’re going to be at any of those, please come find me and Janet in the Artist’s Alley!

In the meantime, I’m going to work on my novel…and read Princeless and Girls with Slingshots during the breaks. While curled up with my new Lando Calrissian plush.

So…what’s YOUR favorite comic book?

Getting What You Wish For

Just in case you didn’t hear me shouting it from the rooftops . . .  I sold my first book!  Lori Wilde’s Indulgence line at Entangled Publishing will publish SOUTHERN COMFORT sometime in the near future (and you know I’ll let you know when!)

Even after having days to process the amazing moment of getting the call (described in detail on my blog) I still crack a crazy grin whenever I think about it. But, I quickly realized that I now had some work to do.

And, don’t get me wrong – I love every minute of the “next step” tasks. But, they did make me sit down and seriously reorganize and plan to maximize every opportunity I worked, hoped, and dreamed about.

Obviously, I need to prepare to hunker down and complete my edits when they arrive.  Turning in a quality book which will wow my readers is the number one priority. In addition, I need to complete the sequel, SOUTHERN NIGHTS.  Second only to making sure SC is the best it can be is the desire to sell the next book . . . and the next . . . and the next. I’m in this for the long haul.  This will required me to step up my dedication to my 2k per day word count and keep to my schedule.  I work full-time. I’m married and have two small children. I can’t waste a minute of writing time.

In the end it’s all about the writing. Period.

Next, I need to focus on and put into action my marketing plans.  I’ve read tons of books on the topic of marketing and branding and my favorite is “We Are Not Alone” by Kristen Lamb.  When I first read it, I knew that I wasn’t at the point where I needed to spend the money on getting a website designer and researching marketing tools and giveaways, but now I am.

So, I’ve embarked on that part of the journey. My attorney filed my incorporation papers last week for the creation of “Burning Up The Sheets, LLC” (I’m a lawyer and needed to do this for my peace of mind due to liability concerns) and I’ve chosen a website designer and just need to give him the go-ahead.  I’m updating my biography and filling out paperwork for my publisher and setting up an author page on Facebook (stop by and “like” me!)

It’s all good. It’s all fun. It’s exciting and terrifying and the most wonderful thing all at the same time.

So, be careful what you wish for . . . you just might get it. And, I hope you do.


Why I HATE Marketing Journal Entry #2: My Website and Jetlag

This morning I don’t hate marketing as much as I hate jetlag, but that’s a story for another post…

I got back from Hawaii Tuesday night around 11 p.m. after several months, okay, I meant to write weeks, but I’m letting the slip-up stay because it provides an accurate take on how well my brain is functioning this morning. But yeah, Hawaii was fantastic, and I’ve got photos galore and stories to tell, and maybe even a book or two out of the experience, but what does my vacation have to do with marketing outside of the fact that mentioning it makes me happy?

Well, while I was away, my website designer (the good folks at Limb Design in particular Mr. Corey Chow) was busy working on my website. So I wanted to share a few things you might find useful.

The first question though might be do you even need a website and what does an author’s website look like these days? Well, most of them are built with the blog approach. So, when I say website, think blog with extra pages:). For those of you (and you know who you are) who don’t have a blog or website, but want to create a blog/site, or are looking to make changes to an existing site, you may find some tips here you can use. Especially if you’re looking to get it done quickly, while controlling cost and quality. Also, many of you may have ‘marketing’ on your New Year’s resolutions list. Except it might read something like ‘learn to tweet’ or ‘post more regularly on my blog’ or ‘I’ve got to get a Facebook account’. And if you’ve got good news to share like you have a new book release, or a first book sale, or a new branding look to introduce, you need marketing.

I’m going to plug WordPress now, but I think it’s okay since the Waterworld Mermaids’ blog was created right here in WordPress – land (Thank you Mermaid Alethea and that’s Alethea Kontis, by the way, who has a great website using WordPress!)! And yes, I’m building my site in Wordpress, too. And duh, I didn’t know until a few months ago that WordPress had templates for websites but Corey, my designer, suggested it as a cost effective approach to launching my new author’s site.

Although I’ve been working on websites in my day job for years, I learned recently that there are companies (lots of them) who have created affordable website templates and per my designer, WordPress is the BEST right now for offering variety, ease-of-use and flexibility, especially when on a limited budget. How limited? The layout I’m using for my new site cost me $35 (see link below).

And it was one of 9 pages of website templates at mojo themes that can be customized any number of ways…see link below:

If you’d like to give me some feedback on the graphics that have been created by Corey for my new site, please stop by my blog today and let me know what you think.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering why I want a website since I’m still unpublished. Easy. I’m an optimist, and today’s marketplace is demanding that authors have a brand identity in place (and a following doesn’t hurt either, especially for first novels).

Now don’t be shy, ask questions, scoff, or share what you’ve learned about creating your blog and/or website. Yes, you’ve got to write the best book you can write and then get an editor, agent or self-publish, but the bottom line is you’ve still got to market it. So what do you think about blogs and/or websites for published and/or unpublished authors?

(And also, Happy New Year!)

You Can Hate Marketing. Seriously. It’s Okay.

Today I am launching a new series at my blog about branding and website development. Why? Because I’m working with a design team on my new author website. It’s an exciting project, but it’s also something I need to do. Why? Because I believe effective branding, effective web presence, social media and finding my audience niche can’t wait until my first book is published (yep, without a single nibble I’m just putting it out there). I’ve got to get the waters primed, and now is the time.

Don’t believe me? Bored already with the constant chatter about what you need to do from what you don’t? If you write, and intend to get published or are published – you must market your brand. Period. No excuses (I won’t go on and on about how much I HATE excuses…but that’s for another journal entry).

I’ve met two people in my career (I’ve been doing the marketing thing for consumer products companies and nonprofit organizations for twenty plus years) who are standouts on the nuances of marketing. My mentor in Chicago, who tried to teach me as much as he could. Bless his heart. And a woman who started a nonprofit business and just didn’t give a damn about anything but selling her product. She was successful, but I’m not sure if the price was worth it (okay, I am sure, it was–for her).

The thing to know though is that neither one of these people were authors. They both are incredible writers, but not romance authors. That is a special world and as competitive as any other business niche in today’s marketplace – a marketplace that on the outside appears to be jammed with opportunity and easy access because of tools like the Internet and social media. But is that true? Nothing is easy, but for it to be right, it doesn’t have to be hard.

To get started on branding you need to know you — the author you.

Answering that question will help you build a brand, or strengthen your existing Internet presence by giving you more ideas on ways to reach your target audiences through those existing distribution channels (I just had to use that phrase:)…you know, blog, twitter, Facebook, etc (Social media stuff is always a good place to begin).

Check out some websites and blogs I think kick a** when it comes to branding.

Legend the Series – when I visited this blog in April 2011, the book deal had been announced a few months earlier (as much as a year earlier), and the site kept adding features until launch day.

Vanessa Barneveld – an unpublished author, but also a Golden Heart winner – her site has strong branding that let’s you know about the author and the flavor of the books immediately.

Romancing the Palate – a blog by a published author offering a topic/niche that dovetails into her stories, and thus helps to build a consistent identity for her ‘foodie’ angle included in her novels (she recently sold her first full-length book).

Quiet Laughter – a blog by an author who is interested in exploring the differences in cultures, catches the eye, but also imaginatively utilizes a simple blogger template.

Now tell me the first thing that comes into your head when you think about marketing…and no cursing (or at least not too much cursing)…

If you’d like to read a bit more about developing your brand, visit my blog and check out today’s post on BRANDING and Why I HATE Marketing:)…

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