Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Eating Bon Bons and Sending Emails! Not!

Today’s post is by Ginger Simpson. Ginger writes award-winning historical and contemporary fiction. Her western, Sparta Rose, was named the Best Historical Read for 2009 by Love Romance Cafe.

Shortcomings, a YA Romance, is available at Muse It Up Publishing, and includes a free Teacher’s Guide.

Eating Bon BonsPeople, at least those who see me most often, don’t realize how much goes into being a e-published author. My family thinks the time I sit in front of the computer is spent playing games and chatting, but little do they know I’m really trying to further my career and keep my name in the limelight.

I’ve compiled some of the ‘promotional and marketing efforts’ essential to doing this, and as you can see, it requires countless group memberships and communication efforts.

Ginger’s Tips

If you want someone to know you have a product to sell, getting your name and work out in public is key to sales. I’ve been published since 2003 and there aren’t too many things I haven’t tried to make or keep myself visible and promote my work in as many ways as possible. Money of course, is a key-factor in doing more, but I continue to look for inexpensive tools and ideas.

I also utilize very opportunity to network with my peers. Sharing information is most helpful in finding new avenues to market oneself. There are a number of ways to do this effectively, and I’m listing those to which I already subscribe and have included my plans to make myself even more visible now that I have new releases. Asterisks indicate the steps I’ve already taken:

* Tweet! Yes, I know many of you don’t see the value, but I recently joined triberr which increases the “reach” because other tribe members retweet posts. My current reach when everyone posts from the “daily stream,” is over 30,000. Probably not everyone will read what I share, but if only a handful are interested, I’ve made progress. You can also check out sites like “Hootsuite” to help manage your tweets.

* Establish and maintain a current website with buy links, excerpts and information about myself. Keep it up to date. Create video trailers and post them. Put them on youtube and other places that allow uploading videos. Don’t know how to make your own…check out places like “” that does all the hard work for you and walks you through the process. Even a caveman can make a trailer there. 🙂

* Establish and maintain a personal blog, offering subscription option to those interested in receiving it daily. This allows you to become real and human rather than just a website and name. Establish an RSS feed for your blog and use it whenever you can.

* Besides maintaining your OWN personal blog, join group blogs to double your promotional efforts. Publisher’s blogs are a must. Sign up for blog tours…get out there and be found on search engines. Below are just a few (and I mean few) places where I’ve blogged:

  • MySpace
  • WordPress
  • Eternal Press
  • Novel Sisterhood
  • BooksWeLove
  • Muse It Up Publishing
  • Historical Novel Reviews
  • Bragging Rites
  • And any on the blog of any friend willing to invite me.

* Maintain memberships and personal pages on promotional sites such as:

  • Twitter
  • Google (Plus one)
  • Author Central o Amazon
  • MySpace
  • Bebo
  • Bookplace
  • Facebook
  • Good Reads
  • Shelfari
  • Manic Readers
  • The Red Room
  • Stumble Upon
  • Linked In

* Participate in interviews and guest blogging days. Being a hostess increases your blog traffic by introducing you to friends of friends.

* Network with others authors and readers through group and forum memberships. You can’t believe the ideas I’ve gotten from peers and readers who post their likes and dislikes. Here’s some places I’ve been:

  • FAR Chatters
  • The Romance Studio
  • Romance Junkies Chatters
  • ManicReaders
  • Novelsisterhood
  • Gingersgroup
  • Cata Network Readers
  • CoffeeTimeRomance
  • Night Owl Romance
  • Brenda Williamson Romance Party
  • Chatting with Joyfully Reviewed
  • Love Romance Café
  • The Romance Room
  • World Romance Readers
  • Eternal Press Readers/Authors
  • Muse It Up Readers/Authors/Gab
  • Creek Authors
  • Kindle Forums

Contact local news media with press release information, arrange to participate in local events or arrange local book signings (although information I’m reading now indicates that holding a writing class or workshop is much more effective.)

Basically, I try to participate in any event that will provide a ‘buzz’ about me and my work.

I’ve done only press releases in a former city because the newspapers around here don’t have the “helpful” attitude I hoped for. I’ve only attended a few book signings and haven’t found it a helpful way to sell my work. Especially with the economy, people are looking for bargains, and trade paperbacks are not the way to go if I want to recoup what I’ve spent per copy.

Several peers have found small-publisher friendly stores in their area, but I haven’t been that fortunate. I did check with my local library, and they are open to hosting me. Of course, I’ve also donated copies of each of my books. If someone reads one, they may be more inclined to look for new releases, or so I’m hoping.

Not all my work is published in print. The good news: since the sales of ereaders soared, so have my download sales. “Soared” for me means I can buy more than a Happy Meal with my royalties. 🙂

My current project is contracting local schools and teen organizations with the study guide from my new YA with hopes of speaking about bullying and how we treat one another. Of course, I’m hoping to get the press involved.

I’ve been very pleased with the following I’ve already garnered through the efforts mentioned above. I think the biggest secret is to be a team player and share promotional opportunities with your peers. What benefits one, usually benefits all. I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to work with publishers who makes their authors a priority. That’s always a good feelings.

This is not a comprehensive list of everything in which I’m involved but it gives you a good feeling of the time I spend working on “me.” Just coming up with interesting ideas for my own blog is wear-and-tear on my old brain. For this reason, you may see my posts shared in more than one place. Hey…brain cells fade everyday and I don’t have that many left. 🙂 If you were one of the three who remember this one from 2008, then hopefully you didn’t notice until I mentioned it. I’ve updated it with new info.

Eating Bon BonsNOTE: If you don’t think promotions and blog posting help get your name out, you’ll appreciate that when I was looking for this image to portray dying brain cells…I found my own picture and a link to a previous blog. I must say, seeing my face under dying brains cells didn’t do much to pick up my spirits. 🙂

If you’re so inclined, please stop by and visit my blog at and saunter on over to my newly-designed website at

Thanks to Kelly for letting me blather on. It’s been fun.

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

2010: Writing Year in Review – Part 1

I’m starting to set goals for the New Year, but before I can do so, I needed to look through the events and accomplishments of the past year to see how I’d done. I’m just now finishing up my review.

Overall, I’m pleased – though I recognize a few areas I can improve on. There are also some lessons learned.

I’m nearly finished edits on a new novel and will be seeking representation early in 2011. So, my main focus for 2010 was “building my platform,” as current wisdom suggests that writers looking for agents need to have a platform in order to score one.

To that end, I engaged in the following platform-building activities last year:

  • 3 “Rapid Fire Readings” and participation on several panels at Balticon, Capclave and Darkover Conventions
  • 4 seminars taught (How to Sell Short Fiction) at all three conventions, plus once at a Maryland Writer’s Association meeting
  • In February, I participated in a reading at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC along with Ellen Kushner, Catherine Asaro and others. I also did a reading at Constellation Book Store with authors in the Bad Ass Fairies Anthology series
  • I joined my state writers group and became secretary of the local chapter
  • I created an Amazon Author page, joined Facebook and, in December, checked out Networked Blogs. (Jury’s still out, there.)
  • I taught a half-semester writing course at the local community college
  • I engaged in a one “failed” blog tour

    That comment probably deserves some explanation as to why I call it failed: I contracted with a company who promised to 1) book me on 20 different sci fi/fantasy and horror blogs, 2) create a graphic which I could use to promote the tour, and 3) create a “motion banner” which I could use for advertisement.

    By the start date of the tour, they’d booked me on fewer than half the required blogs, and the ones they did book me on were predominantly romance or young-adult themed. The “graphic” was a slice of my book cover, neither artfully, nor skillfully, done. (It was horrible.) And the motion banner had still not been created more than two-thirds through the tour. I finally told them to cease trying to make one.

    But I made lemonade when I called on fellow Broads at Broad Universe , as well as fellow authors at both Eternal Press and Damnation Books.

    Thanks to those authors, I wound up with guest posts and interviews at 27 other blogs. (Thank you, fellow authors!)

    Lessons learned:

    • Get more than one or two opinions of a company’s ability to perform.
    • “Past performance is not an indicator of future performance” – in a company’s ability to perform.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – even from casual acquaintances.

  • In October, I joined EPIC – the Electronically Published Internet Connection (Formerly EPPIE), in some part to see if Blood Soup could win another award, but mostly in order to make more connections. (Sadly, I’ve not involved myself as much as I probably should.)
  • Also in October, I signed with a publicity company to bring more traffic to my Web site. We’ll need to wait a few months to see how this pans out.

    Has the work paid off? Yes and no.

    The good: I’ve been asked back to several of the conventions. I’ve been asked to teach my seminar again. And (the best part, IMO), I’ve been asked to participate in a few “invitation only” anthologies.

    The bad: I’m really tired.   (It’s been a really involved year!) Also: my writing output suffered. I exceeded my word-count goal, but only because I wrote so much non-fiction.

    So…that’s it for platform building.

    This post is getting long, so I’ll end for now. In the next installment, I’ll talk about the hard numbers: words I wrote, submissions I made, sales, etc.

    What did you do to build your platform last year?