Wednesday, June 21, 2017

IN TOO DEEP Book Release and Kindle Scout advice

Woohoo, it's here!!! IN TOO DEEP is finally available on Amazon.
*Doing my happy dance.*
(If you're here for my Kindle Scout advice, just scan down....but if you happen to detour over to Amazon to check out my awesome new book, that won't hurt my feelings!)

Here's the blurb:
Haley Carter won't let the abusive relationships of her past hold her back. While struggling to pay the bills and take care of her disabled mother, she sets aside her aversion to men in order to break into the forbidden world of coal mining. As the only female working underground she descends into the darkness with a desperation to prove herself. Miles below the surface, Haley faces something far more sinister than gender politics. When she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy, she discovers two things: someone is trying to kill her, and worse—she might be falling in love.

 I've had a long journey with this book, Wait. All novels are a long journey. But this one was different. It's not my normal genre, and it required ton of research (that part was fun). It's also set in my home town! Please check it out here.

As you know, I used Kindle Scout to kick-start the publication. For those of you interested:
What worked and what didn't in my campaign. 
I generated 70% of the traffic to my page, and I had 2,100 page views. 

Things that worked:
1) Create a team. I created a private group on face book for my Kindle Scout team which consisted of about 20 close friends and family. I asked them before the campaign went live, and they agreed to share my social media posts in exchange for a free paperback copy of my book. They also agreed to advertise for me using any social media outlets they had access to.

2) Give aways! Most of my advertisement was tied to a giveaway. It doesn't have to be much. I did a $25.00 gift card give away. I know of another author who did a $100.00 give away, but we both ended up with just over 2,000 page views. 

3) Facebook! My number 1 source of page views by far came from Facebook. It was 10 times more effective than anything else I tried. I created an event and advertised it with a a $25.00 gift card give away for those people who posted a screen shot of their nomination of my book. I strategically sent invites to everyone on my friends list as needed. (Don't do it all at once.) My Kindle Scout Team sent invites to their friends as well. Facebook caps the number of invites, so just create another event as one fills up. I didn't do this until halfway through my campaign and I wished I had done it sooner. Like I said, I created "events" for this, but I think it would probably do better as a "group" instead of an "event". Events don't show the posts unless you click on, FB will notify people, reminding them the event is coming up.

4) Advertise on your website and/or blog. 

5) Ads placed on local online news sites. I did this the last 15 days of my campaign and was surprised at the number of clicks that came from this. I paid $20 for one news site, and $25 for another news site. Both were online counterparts to my local hometown newspapers.

6) Utilize any and all social media sites through you or your team. I had page clicks from:
Reddit, blogs (I had 2 authors feature me on their blog), Pinterest, Goodreads, Yahoo, Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Outlook Live.

1) Don't go on vacation as soon as your book is live. It's much easier to stay on the Hot and Trending if you monitor it and make a big push for votes as soon as you fall off which will bump you right back up. Once you fall off of the hot list for a few hours/days it's harder to get back on. Once you're there, try to keep it there. But hey, Zion's National Park was calling me, and I had a wonderful week exploring one of the most beautiful canyons in the world. It couldn't be helped!

2) Fiverr adds. I paid for a Fiverr add and regretted it. I only received 1 page click from it. One, single, lousy page click, and it probably came from the seller of the ad. I know they have thousands of followers on their Facebook page, but it doesn't work when all they do is advertise Kindle Scout books. There is no valuable content for their viewers. It's just straight ads of Kindle Scout books. No wonder no one clicks through.

1) Printed business cards. I had 500 cards made up featuring my Kindle Scout book with instructions of how to find and nominate it. It cost $9.00 through Vista Print plus shipping, and they looked FABULOUS! I handed out about 300 of the cards and left a stack at my local library. I also gave a bunch to my Kindle Scout team to hand out. There isn't a way to track how accurate this was. I handed out a bunch of cards out at a writer's conference and then watched my numbers over the next few days, but unfortunately I didn't see an increase in my stats. My opinion--I don't think it's very effective. 

2) Paid Kindle Scout Promotions. As soon as your book goes live, you'll receive some emails from people offering to promote your book. It may or may not work, but I thought it was too expensive. $90.00 for 3-5 days of promotion. They claim that you'll receive 30-40 nominations, and sometimes they'll even give you a discount. I was offered $140 for 2 campaigns lasting 6-10 days.  But I just couldn't bring myself to spend that kind of money. I didn't want to buy my way onto the Hot and Trending list. My book needed to stand on it's own two feet (so to speak). I've seen books win because of huge nominations, but then they didn't sell very well. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

There are probably a lot of strategies that I didn't try. But I was planning on self-publishing when I learned about Kindle Scout, and I  decided on doing this to kick-start my book launch. It was time consuming and grueling, but I didn't spend near as much time fussing over it as some other authors I know. Competition was steep for the month I was on, and there were some great books. But I had a good ride and spent some good time on the Hot and Trending list. But there were about 3 books that constantly beat out my book and remained on the Hot and Trending for the whole campaign. Two of those books "won". The other one (along with mine), didn't. Darn. But I'm still glad I did it. It was great advertisement to get my book off to a good start. 

If you're thinking of doing a Kindle Scout, I think it's a win-win situation even if you don't "win", so go for it, and let me know how it goes. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Now that I've given you all my heart-felt and honest advice (info I wish I had before I started my Kindle Campaign), just hop on over and check out my new book on Amazon.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Kindle Scout Campaign for IN TOO DEEP

I'm down to the last day of my Kindle Scout Campaign. Whew. *Wipes sweat from forehead.* It's been a long, grueling month. I'll do a post on my experiences including strategies that worked and what didn't, so if you're thinking about doing Kindle Scout, stay tuned.

Now for the good stuff! I ran a Facebook contest for those people who nominated my book for a $25.00 gift card to Amazon. I had so many amazing supporters, so if you're one of them...thank you!!! A million times, thank you!!! I used a random generator service to select the lucky person, and...(drum roll)... Abygale Wilkinson is the winner ! Congratulations, Abygale!

My Kindle Scout Campaign is open for a few more hours, so if you didn't get a chance to, please nominate it for a chance to win a free eBook copy!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Typewriter Society Kindle Scout interview

I just did a fun video interview with Carrie Snider and Typewriter Society. We talked about my book, IN TOO DEEP, and what it entails to do a Kindle Scout campaign. There is also a detailed Q&A about publishing.
Check it out here.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Nominate IN TOO DEEP on Kindle Scout

My book, IN TOO DEEP, is up on Kindle Scout right now. 

Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Just pop over to their site, browse and read the selections from various books, and nominate your top three. Books with the most nominations will draw the attention of the publishing team. 

Please nominate IN TOO DEEP. If you keep it in your nomination panel, and it is selected for publication, you'll get a FREE eBook copy! 

Please click on the link and check it out.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cover Reveal

I'm so excited to reveal the cover for my romantic suspense novel, In too Deep! This book has been a LONG time in the making, and now it's almost here!  

In too Deep is on Kindle Scout. Please click on the link and nominate it for publication. If it is selected for publication, and if you have it listed in your nomination panel (You can keep up to 3 books nominated) then you will get a FREE eBook copy!!!  please nominate IN TOO DEEP

From the back cover:

Haley Carter won't let the abusive relationships of her past stop her from accomplishing the unthinkable. While struggling to take care of her disabled mother and pay the bills, she sets aside her aversion to men in order to break into the forbidden world of coal mining. As the only female working underground she descends into the darkness with a desperation to prove herself. When someone threatens Haley's life, she takes greater risks and uncovers something far more sinister than gender politics. Can Hayley open her heart to trust her co-worker, Jake, and uncover a conspiracy before someone kills her?

For other news: I also have a shiny new website. You can check it out here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sample Chapter

I just thought I'd share a chapter out of the book I'm working on. Drama Queen is the third book in my Middle Grade/YA series. What happens when a slightly overweight teenage girl pushes beyond her boundaries to overcome her insecurities? A lot of drama, that's what! The question is--Will the universe align so Charley can have her moment of fame in the spotlight, or will everything crumple around her?

 I've submitted to a publisher, and I'm just waiting to hear what they say.

Chapter 1

I refuse to be invisible.
At least that’s what I told myself as I stood on the roof of Lockwood Academy, dotted with excess glitter, and leaning over the waist-high barrier, daring anyone below to look up and see me. I straightened my shoulders and stretched myself as tall as my frame would allow—something I usually did to make myself look thinner. Not that I was really fat. But for a fourteen-year-old attending a private school for performing arts, I wasn’t at ideal weight either.
I had been equipped with curvy thighs and a round bottom that refused to conform with exercise—which is why I liked my Lockwood uniform. The white blouse and red jacket and pleated skirt hid my size well. But not well enough today. I needed to make a good impression, so I had gone the extra mile and had stuffed myself into a pair of control-top pantyhose. Which for me was like stuffing a king-sized pillow into a pocket purse. It felt like I was about to bust a seam, and with the wrong move, all my voluptuous curves would burst free. Still, squeezing myself into a nylon vice was a small price to pay if it got me the votes I needed.
“I knew I’d find you up here.”
I turned around and saw George Hollister. His back-to-school-look was limited to his hair style because there’s not much that can be done with a uniform. Today he slicked his short mouse-brown hair into a ridge so it looked like a small ocean wave cresting above his forehead. It was cool. The other cool thing is that George was the only other student that knew how to get on the roof (which in my book, made us instant friends). People that share a secret automatically become allies, so it didn’t matter that George was two years younger than me. 
At eleven years and seven months, he was the youngest student boarding at Lockwood. Which was saying a lot because he was here last year too. Not that he was a performing arts prodigy or anything. His mother was the Headmistress of Lockwood, and his dad was Dean of the music program, so apparently the minimum age requirement of twelve didn’t apply to him.
George shielded his eyes from the morning sun to look at me. “Meeting up here on the roof should be our back-to-school tradition.” He paused and dropped his gaze to the poster I held in my hands. “What are you doing?”
“I’m working on my campaign.” I tipped the poster board over the edge of the roof, dumping the excess glitter off. Glimmering flecks of gold fluttered down past the ivy-covered walls and landed on the sidewalk creating a glittery carpet for the students climbing out of the endless line of limousines.
The first day back from summer vacation was always a mad rush. A back-to-school-circus of three hundred of the most talented teens from New York and beyond, all hurrying to find their friends. Soon they would plaster their half of a dorm room with posters and bright bedding, stringing their personal belongings around like confetti. I’d arrived at Lockwood two hours ago, so I could get ready for the election.
George’s footsteps sounded behind me. “You know you’re breaking the rule—Be invisible.”
No one below was even looking up at me. I was tired of being invisible. “That’s a stupid rule.” I turned around and thought about sitting down on the rough concrete roof, but that would probably be the move that made my control-top lose control.
“What do you mean—stupid rule?” George pointed at me. “You’re the one that helped make up the list.”
 He couldn’t really call it a list because we only two rules. 1) Never tell anyone where the roof access door is—although anyone who walked to the back of the custodian’s room would find it. And 2) Be invisible. Which pretty much meant don’t get caught.
“No one saw me.” I didn’t know what the punishment was for being on the roof of Lockwood Academy, but I didn’t want to be invisible anymore. “This is my year,” I said. “Great things are going to happen.” And I wasn’t talking about getting my braces removed. That would happen in three months, but I had bigger things planned for this year. I turned my poster around so George could see it. “What do you think?”
He straightened his red tie with the Lockwood crest embroidered on it. “Charlotte Callahan for Drama President.” His face scrunched up, and for a second I thought he didn’t like my swirly letters or my glittering border.
“What’s wrong?”
He shook his head. “It doesn’t make sense.”
I frowned and looked at my poster. “Charlotte Callahan for Drama President. What doesn’t make sense?” Lockwood Academy for Performing Arts had three different course programs—Drama, Music, and Dance. George knew I was enrolled in the Drama Program. And it was my ninth grade year. All ninth graders could run for their program’s student government. “It’s clear as day.” I jerked my chin toward my poster. “I’m running for Drama President.”
He used a finger to scratch his head, careful not to mess up his ocean wave. “Yeah, but it says Charlotte. Everyone knows you as Charley.”
I turned the poster over showing him my first version. Charley for Drama president. I frowned at it and flipped it back over. “I think Charlotte sounds more professional.”
He shrugged. “But how will people know it’s you?”
“Because I’ll be sitting behind the poster.”
He stared at me like he still didn’t know if that would make a difference.
“You’ll vote for me, won’t you, George?” He was in the Music Program, but voting for the different presidencies was open to all students. Seventh through ninth grade voted for the junior-high presidencies, and the upper grades voted for the senior presidencies. 
“I don’t know.” George picked up my portfolio that was sitting next to my container of markers. He lowered his voice as he started to read it. First was a list of the various stage roles I’d played. “A tree in Little Red Riding Hood, a pig in The Big Bad Musical, a horse in Cinderella.” George looked up at me, one eyebrow cocked.
“Keep reading, it gets better.”
Before he even got to my role as a nun in the Sound of Music, he flipped the page. “Workshops and classes.”
I nodded, encouraging him to go on. This was the impressive part of my portfolio. Most kids just took the performing classes here at the academy, but I went above and beyond, taking every class and workshop I could find. 
George scanned through the list. “I thought your parents sent you to California to go to a summer technology camp, but it says here that you took a Shakespeare acting class.”
My expression fell. My parent’s lack of confidence in my career choice was like a thorn in my side. Maybe I wouldn’t get rich doing theater, but it’s what I loved. “I did go to the tech camp, but I took online acting classes in my spare time.”
George closed the book without reading the rest of my credentials. “I’ll vote for you.”
I wanted to ask him if it was because my portfolio was so kick-butt-amazing, or if it was just because we were friends, but then the sound of someone singing floated up to the roof. Being at a school for performing arts, this wasn’t uncommon. People were always singing. Me included. I could practically sing every song from every mainstream musical that had ever crossed a New York stage. But this voice, floating up to us, was different. It was soft and sweet, moving effortlessly through the complicated stanza, and showing all of us what a real superstar sounded like.
George crouched low as he walked over to the edge and peered down to the courtyard below. “You’ll never guess who it is.” The girl’s voice moved up an octave, holding a high G long enough to defy the laws of physics.
I turned away from George and folded my arms across my chest. Of course, I knew who it was. I had grown up with that voice. I couldn’t get away from it. My sister, Eden, was a year younger than me, but she was admitted to Lockwood at the same time I was last year. It was a dark spot in my memory, a time I tried not to think about—how she had hijacked my audition. Eden had never shown interest in going to a private boarding school, let alone starting a career in performing arts. But Mom insisted that she come with us when I had my audition at Lockwood.
I was nervous that day. (Ok, more like terrified.) I wanted to be accepted to the school so badly, I had tried on every outfit in my closet before I settled on the perfect one. Eden had tagged along in a pair of jeans and a Disney princess T-shirt (which was definitely too babyish for a twelve-year-old). I had memorized a four-and-a-half minute dramatic monologue and had worked for weeks on my musical theater performance—I have Confidence from The Sound of Music. (Ironic, I know.)
But apparently Mr. Perkins and Mrs. Mapleton—Lockwood’s acquisition personnel—had more confidence in Eden than me. Everyone always seemed to like her more. People were just attracted to her. She was soft spoken and sweet. I was dramatic. Plus, she was better-looking. Platinum blonde hair (mine was straw colored), tall, slender, with elf-like features. Me, I had braces and control-top pantyhose.
It didn’t take long for Mr. Perkins and Mrs. Mapleton to comment on my cute little sister. I was relieved when Eden left to use the bathroom, but then the worst thing ever happened. She started singing as she walked down the hall. Eden was blessed with a beautiful voice. Me, I had to work for every note, tone, and pitch. But not her. As soon as she got back in the room, all the attention was on her. How old was she? Did she want to audition too? Would she like a scholarship?
Eden and I used to play well together as kids, but for some reason, things have been harder since that day. It’s not that I’m not proud of her accomplishments. I am. But I also get a bad taste in my mouth whenever I think about how amazing she is. So I try to count my blessings whenever it crosses my mind. Like: I’m thankful that Eden is in the Music Program instead of the Drama Program. (She can play piano too.) And I’m thankful that I’m older than her. Although most people can’t tell. Sometimes I just want to tell everyone that at least I wear a bra and she doesn’t yet.
“Your sister is AMAZING.” George leaned forward, resting his arms on the roof barrier and looking dreamily down at Eden. I’m pretty sure the Be Invisible rule was the last thing on his mind. I rolled my eyes and refused to join the Eden-admiring-moment. Instead, I let my gaze move across the school grounds, past the dorms, past the dance building and the Bell Tower, past the trees, and over to the back side of the old abandoned Lockwood mansion.
    All at once, my breath caught in my throat and all kinds of creepiness moved down my spine, somehow working its way past my control-top pantyhose, and moving right down to my toes. I dropped my poster and blinked to make sure I wasn’t imagining before I grabbed George and pulled him next to me. “You’ve got to see this!”

IN TOO DEEP Book Release and Kindle Scout advice

Woohoo, it's here!!! IN TOO DEEP is finally available on  Amazon. *Doing my happy dance.* (If you're here for my Kindle Scout advi...