Mary and Rick Roberts

Writer’s Wednesday: Award-winning Author L.C. Hayden on Promotion

I invited L.C. Hayden to be our guest today because I’ve always been fascinated by her unique way of promotion. This is just one way to think outside the box when marketing your books. Please help me in welcoming L.C. Hayden to The Editing Essentials!

L. C. Hayden is the creator of the award winning Harry Bronson Mystery Series. Critics are hailing her latest release When the Past Haunts You as the best mystery of 2012. This February, the book was nominated for the 2013 Watson Award and hit the Number 2 Kindle Police Procedural Best Seller spot.

Visit her website at www.lchayden.com and check out her books at www.tinyurl.com/LCHayden. She invites you to be her Facebook friend at Lc Hayden and Tweet her @LCHayden1.

Cruising and Promoting

I’m lucky.

I’ve done over fifteen cruises. I’ve been to the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal, the Mediterranean, and others. Most, more than once.

“That means you’re rich,” you say.

“Nope. I’m just doing my job.”

“Wait! You get paid to go on these cruises?”

Yep. I’ve been contacted by Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Princess Cruise Lines to do writing presentations during their days at sea. They want and expect forty-five minute power point presentations that are both amusing and informative. That’s followed by a fifteen minute signing section.

That’s it. That’s my entire job. I’ve done as few as two presentations during a sixteen day cruise and as many as eight. It all depends on the number of days at sea.

There’s a set of guidelines I’m expected to follow, but they are all common sense rules. I’m not allowed to wear short-shorts. I can’t sit at the bar and drink. I can’t gamble or participate in any games where I can win, such as bingo. I’m not allowed to mention other cruise lines or seat up front at any of the cruises’ shows.

In return, I and my guest of choice receive a free cruise, discounts at the ship’s stores, photograph discounts, and more often than not, cruise excursion discounts. One of the ship’s stores carries and sells my books. At the end of each cruise, I pick up my check.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  It is. I love cruising all over the world and promoting my books at the same time. Some of my most faithful followers are those I met at one of these cruises. So how did I land such a lucrative job?

By pure luck. Someone heard me speak, and he (she?) recommended me to the person who hires for the cruise lines. They called and the interview lasted for a bit over three hours. At the end of the conversation, they said they’d send me to the Caribbean on a five day trial basis.

During those presentations, I had everyone from the captain to the cruise director to the bar attendant to the . . . well, you get the idea. Everyone was there to evaluate me. I must have passed because soon after that, I was sent on longer more exotic cruises. I average one or two cruises a year.

I’m now to the point where people are e-mailing me, asking when and where I’ll do the next cruise so that they can join me. Unfortunately, most of the time, I can’t tell them simply because I don’t know. Sometimes the company calls me one or two months ahead of time. Although it hasn’t happened to me, they might even give you a week’s notice.

I have such fond memories of these cruises. I remember one time in Tahiti I saw a gorgeous necklace made of sea shells and macramé. The natives sold it for $20. I thought that was a bit too expensive for macramé and sea shells so I passed it up.

Soon as I got back to the ship, I regretted my decision. But much to my heart’s content, the next island also sold them, and they were charging only $18. I whipped out my credit card only to be told that they didn’t accept credit cards.

I dashed to look for my husband—my walking cash machine. By the time I returned, they were sold out.

At the next island, I was prepared. The natives sold theirs for $15. I bought it and proudly wore my unique necklace for the rest of the cruise. When we got home, I went to Walmart to buy some milk. I got the milk and noticed that the store sold the same unique necklaces for $4.99.

Sigh.

While in Barcelona my husband and I walked Las Rambles, a mile long street filled with museums, eateries, parks, and stores. I wanted to take some pictures of Spain’s outstanding architecture, so we deviated one block away from the path. The visual site rewarded me with early European structures. Fascination filled me as I snapped picture after picture. I was so involved with the task at hand, I failed to notice the group of ladies who had gathered across the street.

My attention riveted toward them when one of them threw an unopened orange Fanta toward my feet. The can burst as it collided with the pavement. I distinctly heard them chanting, “No pictures. No pictures.” Then it dawned on me. We had wandered into the Red Light District.

Ooops!

Then there’s the time I decided to shoot some rapids in Huatulco. I love the feel of gently floating down a peaceful river and a size two rapid is nothing more than gentle moving water with a bump here and there. But as it turned out, the rapids were really four’s and five’s. Afterwards, I asked our guide about it, after all, we had been promised one’s and two’s.

He shrugged. “What can I say? It rained.”

Okay.

There’s so many more misadventures I could share, but space is limited. All I can say is that I’m so thankful that I’ve landed this oh, so tough job—but hey somebody’s got to do it.

Thank you, L.C., for joining us today! Feel free to post an questions or comments for her on how she promotes her books. She’ll be with us all day. Thank you!

Mary and Rick Roberts

Photo of the Week: It’s in the Details

Copyright © 2012 by Brittiany A. Koren

When describing main characters, remember to include little quirks that make them stand apart from other characters in the story. This is important because it will help your readers “see” these characters, and therefore relate to them on a deeper level.

If you look closely you’ll see, for instance, the girl in this picture has a scar in her eyebrow. Her eyes are bright green and her hair almost white blonde while the hair in her eyebrow is darker.

These questions leap to mind. How did she get the scar? Does she color her hair, or is it natural?

And then from there, the story begins to develop. What is she looking at so intently? How old is she? What is it about this girl that makes her special?

Have fun with it, but don’t get too carried away. These little details, if not added in your first draft of the story, should be layered in during the second or third draft phase before the story is sent to an editor for review.

Good luck! 🙂

Mary and Rick Roberts

Writer’s Wednesday: New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Novak on Branding Yourself As a Writer

Today I’d like to welcome New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak to The Editing Essentials! Because marketing is one of those “Must-Do” items on every author’s list, I asked Brenda, who does marketing so well, to give some tips on it. Please welcome her!

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is in the middle of writing a brand new small-town contemporary series. Come meet the long-time friends who have made Whiskey Creek the “Heart of Gold Country,” with WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, WHEN SNOW FALLS and WHEN SUMMER COMES. Brenda also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised over $1.6 million. 

Branding

There’s a buzzword in the industry that makes almost any author sit up and take notice: branding. Everyone’s talking about it; everyone wants to be effective at it. But…what is it, exactly? And how important is it that we learn to market in this way?

An author brand is like any other kind of brand—Coke, Pepsi, Kellogg’s, Andersen Doors. The most familiar brands evoke immediate recognition and association with particular products or even a level of quality in a certain product. Basically, branding translates into a sort of shorthand. I see a Nora book, I automatically know what kind of experience I can expect by reading it, so I pick it up without having to think twice or do any research. Having a reputation and a loyal following helps with all those impulse buys that are so critical in the book business.

Branding is also important because it enables the author’s name in and of itself to become a marketable commodity. James Patterson is now using his brand to sell stories co-authored by other people. He’s even expanding his brand to include many different types of stories. Now that he’s so strongly associated with a good story, he can do that.

How did he build such a strong brand? By writing consistently great stories. That always has to be first. But there’s more to it than that. Branding is an on-going process and doesn’t generally happen overnight. It’s most difficult in the start-up phase. As well known as they are, Coke and Pepsi are still out there, advertising and building name recognition. It’s like pushing a ball uphill. If you stop pushing, it rolls right back to the bottom—something else encroaches and takes the attention of those you’re hoping to reach.

Specifically, an author brands herself by developing something that is consistent and unique in her writing. I do that by making sure every book I create delivers a deeply emotional, evocative story. How is my brand different from other authors who write in the same genre? My books are known for their deep characterization in a genre that is often more plot-driven (as you drift toward the suspense side). Once you know what you want your brand to be, you establish it through your writing style and “voice,” as well as your promotional efforts, until it becomes recognizable to others.

Some tools an author can use to build her brand are:

 

  1. Paid Advertising
  2. An interesting and constantly updated Web site
  3. Strategic Contests
  4. Blogs and chats (See? I’m building my brand right here <G>)
  5. Newsletters
  6. Charity/Volunteer work
  7. Networking
  8. Joint-promotion with other authors and businesses
  9. Speaking
  10. Writing articles
  11. Press releases/media attention
  12. Author response to fan letters/e-mails
  13. Mailers to booksellers/fans
  14. Samplers

Your brand is your promise to your readers. When my readers buy my books they want to be able to count on a certain type of read. Therefore, I make sure I deliver that kind of read. Everything I do professionally is geared around building my brand and my career, so my website reflects that brand, my promotional materials reflect it, my charity auction reflects it, and my workshops/blogs reflect it.

Think about how solicitors make you feel. Because we are approached by so many who are trying to sell us something, the melee is deafening. We learn to filter and filter quickly, which means, in order to be effective in today’s marketplace, we have to be creative marketers. So my question to you is: How can you reach people who are already tired of the signals that are constantly bombarding them via the telephone, TV, computer, etc? How can you set yourself apart?

Throw out some ideas, and I’ll be happy to contribute. 🙂

Thank you so much for being here today, Brenda! Feel free to post questions or comments for Brenda, she’ll be with us all day. Thank you!

Mary and Rick Roberts

E. Tip of the Week: Endings

There’s a lot of advice on how to write great beginnings and getting through writing the middle of stories, but what about that ending?

An ending should be everything the story has been building up towards. Powerful. Intriguing. Satisfying. To have a great ending means it needs to be satisfying to the reader. So many times when I’m editing a novel, the emotion of the story will build and build. Then, in that last page it’s like there’s a cliff there and the story just drops off the face of the earth. I’m not talking about a cliff hanger. I’m talking about an ending that builds towards the end but doesn’t have a satisfying end for the reader. An ending when the reader walks away and says “That’s it? That wasn’t worth it.”

Those are words no writer wants to hear, yet so many times in editing novels I see a writer spending so much time on crafting their beginnings –it’s imperative to have a great hook, after all–and middles, the writer will just leave their ending to just “come together.”

Don’t do that.

When you’ve finished writing the first draft, second draft, third draft, go back and read just the last five pages of your story. What is the emotion you feel after you’ve read the ending? Did you feel the tension, the sadness, happiness, or shock you as the writer were going for? Or, did you feel empty or confused?

Make sure to spend the same amount of time on your ending, as you do the beginning and middle. After all, if it’s a satisfying read, your readers will be more apt to tell others about your characters and the journey they just experienced. And isn’t that what you really want? 🙂

Mary and Rick Roberts

Writer’s Wednesday: Award-winning Romance Author Kristine Cayne

Today we’re excited to have Kristine Cayne as our guest on The Editing Essentials. Please join us in welcoming her!

Kristine Cayne

 Award-winning author Kristine Cayne is fascinated by the mysteries of human psychology—twisted secrets, deep-seated beliefs, out-of-control desires. Add in high-stakes scenarios and real-world villains, and you have a story worth writing, and reading. Kristine’s heroes and heroines are pitted against each other by their radically opposing life experiences. By overcoming their differences and finding common ground, they triumph over their enemies and find true happiness in each other’s arms.Today she lives in the Pacific Northwest, thriving on the mix of cultures, languages, religions and ideologies. When she’s not writing, she’s people-watching, imagining entire life stories, and inventing all sorts of danger for the unsuspecting heroes and heroines who cross her path. To learn more about Kristine and her stories, visit her website: www.kristinecayne.com or her blog, http://kristinecayne.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/KristineCayneAuthor

WD: What is your favorite book of all time you can read again and again?

KC: My favorite book of all time, and one of the rare books that I’ve read several times is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Jamie Fraser will forever be the standard to which I compare all heroes. Likewise, Clare is the perfect example of the strong capable heroine who is nonetheless at ease with her femininity.

WD: What is your favorite part about creating a new story? Creating characters, plot, conflict, sex scenes, action scenes, etc.?

KC: There is so much that I enjoy about writing. If I have to pick, I’d say that my favorite part is romantic scenes. It can be sex, or it can be flirtatious bantering. Both are immensely fun to write.

WD: What do you like about writing your characters?

KC: One of the great joys I get from writing is seeing my characters come to life. When I first start planning a story, the characters are vague, ill-defined, and mysterious, like figures in a dream. I can see them, but I can’t quite identify them. As the story unfolds, the characters start to seem real. I find myself thinking things like: “no, he would never say that” or “of course, that’s exactly what she would do in this situation.” By the end of the book, I’m talking about them like they are my friends: “he wants to try something new tonight” or “he likes how the sunlight puts highlights in her hair.”

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to conduct interviews with some of my characters with my critique partner acting as interviewer. It was so fun to see how they responded to questions. 🙂

WD: What are your goals for 2013?

KC: I’ve got a full load planned for this year. My goal is to publish three stories this year. One, Deadly Betrayal, from my Deadly Vices romantic suspense series. And two stories from my Six-Alarm Sexy series, Everything Bared and one that is not quite officially named yet. My stretch goal is to publish an additional book from the Deadly Vices series, Deadly Deception.

I’ve never written this much before, nor have I ever written two books concurrently, but I’m going to give it a shot. Without goals, I’d never accomplish anything!

 

WD: What do you like about doing Blog Hops?

KC: I love the chance to meet new readers. A blog hop is like a huge party where every invitee brings a couple of friends from another “circle.” It mixes things up and expands your group, hopefully resulting in lasting friendships.

WD: What is the most outrageous, fun, or interesting giveaway you’ve done, or seen as a giveaway for a Blog Hop?

KC: While participating in an erotica/erotic romance blog hop, there was a grand prize of a gift certificate to an adult store. The gift certificate in itself was not super interesting or outrageous, but imagining all the items bought by the winner in a basket, well, that made me smile.

WD: What advice would you give to new writers?

KC: LOL! I’m still learning. Each book is a new adventure, and each day is a struggle to get focused. Before you publish, all you think about is writing. But afterward, you have a slew of different hats to wear and you quickly become distracted. I have to work very hard to keep myself on schedule and to pull away from online activities. As I said, I’m still learning. 🙂

Thanks so much, Kristine, for being our guest today! If you have questions or comments for Kristine, please feel free to post them here. She’ll be checking in throughout the day. Thanks!

 

Mary and Rick Roberts

Written Dreams in Social Media

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We’re very excited to share that last weekend one of the books Brittiany Koren edited, Perfidy by M.E. May, won the Lovey Award for Best First Novel! 🙂

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