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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 10: Give It Away!

7-Key-Things-Every-Great-Facebook-Contest-NeedsSomething I’ve noticed about authors who do really well. They give stuff away. Books, swag, their time, etc . . . Many authors who are bestsellers run regular contests and giveaways. Yes, it gets people to pay attention because who doesn’t want free stuff? Especially free books! But what it also does is show us how important readers are to that author. A contest is an opportunity for interaction with readers or potential readers. It’s a way for the author to connect with and stay in touch with people who are already devoted fans. But it’s also a great way to welcome and encourage new readers. That’s why contests and giveaways are great.

So, as an author what do you give away? Easy enough. Start with your own books. Or, if you’ve been to a conference lately you’ve most likely accumulated swag (other books, book marks, hats, bags, pens, etc . . .) Yes, you can give away books written by other authors. But isn’t that counter-productive? Nope. If you are familiar with those authors and you’ve read their books it shows good will and you still get to interact with your readers because you are running the giveaway.images

What if you want to try something different? No problem. Go to your local thrift store and look for some interesting trinkets that either connect with your book or series or relate them to something you love like antique pill boxes or spoons. Or go to a used book store and find some well-loved (dog-eared) copies of some of the books that first got you hooked on romance or sci-fi or horror and give those away as part of a “nostalgia” contest.

You can also give away your time. Offer up a “coffee date”  for one lucky reader and perhaps two friends if it’s a city you will be traveling too or a fan conference or event where readers attend. Yes, you’ll be footing the bill for the coffee and treats. 😉

If cost is an issue – give away the name of a character in your upcoming book – name that character after a reader! Give away a skype session with you and your fans! Ask your reader who they want the next hero and/or heroine to be in your ongoing series. The winner gets a mention in your acknowledgments! There are a lot of things you can do that are different and unique and bring you that much closer to your fans as well as intrigue potential new readers.

The most important thing about contests and giveaways? Do them often! Once a month is great but at least a few times a year. And especially when you have a new book coming out! When you have a new release out – give away the previous book you’ve written or the first book in your series. But do it regularly! That’s it for today! Remember – everyone loves a giveaway!

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100_4277Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing Inc. She loves Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, contests, and giveaways!

Remember, in celebration of our 9th Anniversary, Lachesis Publishing is offering 50% off all our books (except for the .99 cent titles and the freebies of course! 😉 ) Check out our great titles!

 

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 9: Q and A with bestseller Ruth Cardello

1525041_763874253623047_936091427_nSo happy that Ruth Cardello is our Q and A guest today. Ruth is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She is also SUPER savvy on social media and is DYNAMITE at utilizing social networking to promote her books and help turn them into BIG hits.

Why do you write?taken_not_spurred-2xer5tft36936dfnce8cne

I have always been passionate about reading romance stories. As a young girl I would stay up all night secretly reading the newest Harlequin novel. Writing became a natural way for me to escape into the worlds I loved being ensconced in. It is also a way for me to get the voices in my head to quiet down . . . or at least it gives me an excuse for them.

BeddingTheBillionaire-ebook-2xcx6nll4n8vh1kd2nfw96You are known for being an Internet success story –tell us how that came about.

I wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Publishers told me that the story I had submitted was good but not what they were looking for. I was determined to publish my book. I started searching on the Internet for information on self-publishing. It was still very new at that time. I methodically began connecting and networking with other authors online. Once my first book was self-published, I began connecting with my readers and sharing my knowledge with other authors who were just starting out. I’ve paid forward my good fortune each and every chance I had and I like to think that is what has brought so many wonderful people into my life. Writing a novel is a solitary process. Publishing it is not.

Some authors cringe at the idea of social media and see it as a waste of time away from their writing. What do you think about it? How much time do you spend on social media every day?

come-away-with-me-2wc5yekda8llpnwyuk1c7eI use every social media outlet possible.  I am on Facebook, where I have a personal page, a Business Page, and several other pages that are used for networking with other authors and my readers. I am also on twitter , Goodreads, Google+, Authorgraph and Pinterest.  I dedicate at least one hour a day solely to connecting with my readers and other authors.

Based on your own experience, do you think it’s a good idea for an author to invest in his or her own promotional or marketing budget? If so – what are some of the important things that an author should consider?

Yes, writing is a business and any business owner will tell you that you have to invest in yourself to grow. The initial investment can be time, but never underestimate the value of a good editor. Important things to consider are budget, target market, and finding the best advertisers within budget that will reach the most readers. A good cover and a good tag line are also important in your promotion.

What are the top three things every author needs to do to create a buzz around a new release?

MaidfortheBillionaire-ebook-2xcx6mccppwzok3n7zlc7e1. The best tool for me is my newsletter.  If you have a newsletter, use it to notify your readers of your new release. Every reader who reads your book and doesn’t sign up to stay connected with you in some way may forget you by the time you release your next. Not because they didn’t love your book, but because of the sheer number of good books available out there.

2. Inform your readers of your release via all of your social media outlets. Post about your release on Facebook. Tweet about it. Share it on Google + and add it to your blog. Encourage your fans to share it with their friends.

3. If you can arrange for a Blog Blitz or a Book Blog Tour you can reach even more readers.

What do you think of the notion that you’re not only an author but you’re a business person too? Does that resonate with you?

ForLoveOrLegacy-ebook-2xcx6myyx6kxksu05bim8aAbsolutely. Wearing an author’s hat and a business hat keeps me busy! Sometimes I have to set the business aspect of writing aside so it doesn’t cut into my writing time. But I can’t always put the business aside because being an author is like running a very busy shop where you are the sole employee.

Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

I have a lot of authors who have inspired me throughout the years.  I couldn’t begin to list them all here. Annette Blair and Sandra Marton were amazing to me when I first started out and I hero worshipped both for their writing ability.

What would I find on your desk at this very moment?

My laptop, an iPad, my cell phone, a plaque that reads “if you can dream it, you can do it – Walt Disney”, a bottle of water and some carrot sticks.

What is your favourite guilty pleasure treat that you indulge in when writing?
I don’t eat chocolate or many sweets, but I do love to start my writing day with an iced French Vanilla coffee.
 
RiseOfTheBillionaire-ebook-2xcx6p8e2g6blo9p2wuf4aA great writer or a good book doesn’t necessarily translate to hitting a bestseller list. What do you think the bestselling authors do differently than authors who don’t sell as well?

It’s a whole new world out here in Indie publishing. You’re right there are many good books that don’t hit the lists. All things equal, to make a list your book has to be seen. It’s that simple. How an author gets their book in the hands of new readers and grows their reader base—that’s an individual path all the best sellers created for themselves. But the bottom line is always the same. A good book needs to find its readers. Once it does that, it’s on its way.

Connect with Ruth Cardello via her web site, on facebook, twitter and pinterest.

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? (part 3 of an ongoing series)

How to Become a Bestselling Author: The inside scoop from a personal assistant to the romance writing all-stars.

10003159_10152282263439854_5663918089959658826_nKim Castillo is personal assistant to New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author Eloisa James. It’s fitting that these two ladies work together since they are both fabulous and amazing.

Kim has worked with many talented bestselling authors over the years, so if there is anyone who knows the inside of this biz, it’s Kim!

What is it like working for Eloisa James?

Bliss! Imagine meeting your idol, then finding out that they are even more fabulous than you thought and then getting to work with them every day. That’s what it’s like.

ELO_Ugly_DuchessEloisa is just so incredible. Don’t get me wrong, she is tough and a perfectionist, but she’s also the most amazing teacher and is open to hearing everything. I go to her with any idea I have no matter how big or small. We toss it back and forth and then decide together if we want to go forward. Lots of times she’s all for it but she has shot me down a few times. Like this graphic I made for The Ugly Duchess, it was rolling around in my head for weeks. Finally I put it together, sent it to her and asked for her thoughts. She loved it and posted it to her Facebook page and that thing went wild! It was shared online tens of thousands of times, it was crazy. When she doesn’t love an idea, she tells you in the best way. She never makes you feel bad at all. She gives the best constructive criticism.

We have a great time chatting on the phone and brainstorming ideas. I can’t go into detail but there is an aspect of her upcoming novel, Four Nights With the Duke, I can’t wait to see. It came out of nowhere during one of our talks and she just flew with it. Readers are going to love it!

Together we do everything we can to make Eloisa’s books the best they can possibly be and to make her releases as successful as possible. She lets me feel very much a part of her magic. When she won the RITA for Seduced by a Pirate, I felt . . . there aren’t enough words to describe the feeling, but it was pretty amazing! We celebrate her successes wildly and when things don’t go as well as we plan, we go over it bit by bit. We try to pinpoint what could have been done better, what should have been done and even what shouldn’t have been done.

To sum it up, working with Eloisa is very satisfying. She allows my creativity to soar. If anyone had ever told me I would be this happy in a job, I never would have believed them.

What can a personal assistant do for an author in terms of helping to build his/her career?

Have initiative. People always ask me to help them become an assistant, they want to do what I do. It’s not that easy. There isn’t a formula to this. You have to have great instincts and be in tune with your author. I don’t care where Eloisa is in the world, I know if she’s not feeling well or is having a very rough time. I know her and I know what she needs. Most importantly, I take care of what she needs.

For myself, I can’t make a decision to save my life. Honestly, anyone who’s gone out to dinner with me can attest to this. But when it comes to Eloisa James Inc., I make decisions in an instant without hesitation. Going along with that you also have to be accountable. You have to say “yes, I made that call” or “crap! I missed that”. With Eloisa, I have the luxury of knowing she isn’t going to rail at me.

More specifically, learn social media. Pay attention to the trends of the moment. Your author will get the most benefit of being in on a trend from the beginning, not the end. I get a lot of my inspiration from current celebrities. Taylor Swift has given me more than one brilliant idea.

Do everything you can for your author so she has time to write and focus on the stories she needs to tell.

For the authors who can’t afford a personal assistant – what are some key things that every author should do to promote her/his books?

Social media. You don’t have to do it all. There are so many! Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Do what you enjoy, but do it well. Be genuine and converse with your readers. Trust me on this, readers will know in a second if you’re not being yourself or if you’ve hired someone to do your social media. Don’t talk at them, talk to them. No matter what platform you’re on you need to treat it as if you’re with a group of friends having coffee and fun.

Treat your booksellers kindly! When Borders and Waldenbooks closed, it was the independent bookstores that stepped up. They are on social media, they have author events and they believe in you so much that they are hand selling your books. If you are traditionally published, send them bookmarks or other swag to share with their customers. Get to know them and ask them what you can do to help them do their job. It is up to us to support these small businesses. They truly love what they do and that deserves our help.

Given your experience working with so many authors over the years what are some of the stand-out qualities that many successful authors have in common?

Kindness. The most successful authors I know are just plain kind and supportive. They give back, they don’t take success for granted. Look at the workshop line up for any writing conference. You will see some of the biggest names imaginable sharing what they’ve learned. Karma, baby! You get what you put out there.

Self-awareness. A good author knows their writing process, how long it takes them to write a book, etc. They also surround themselves with good people who are supportive and accent them.

Where is the first place you go when you want to look for a new author or something new to read?

Eloisa! She reads at an incredible speed and shares what she really loves. This past spring she completely glommed Abby Green and Kresley Cole. We love to talk books but I can’t keep up with her at all. She’s got bionic eyes or something.

It is every author’s dream to be a huge success and at the top of all the bestseller lists. As an author, you need to drive yourself towards that in the best way possible for you. Most of you are perfectionists and the thought of handing off something to someone else makes you break out into hives. Get over that! Everyone can use help even if it’s just asking your teenager to teach you how to use “the Facebook”.

For the authors who feel that they can’t afford help, think again. When I started out, I charged $11 an hour and was available for any amount of hours. If you only needed two hours a month, that was fine with me. Look around, I’m sure you can find something in your budget.

One of the best pieces of advice I got when I started out was from Jeanne Adams. She helped me create a mission statement. I encourage all of you to do that. Put your goals on paper, print it out and tape it above your desk. Keep focused on those goals.

CHALLENGE: Let’s work on that together today. Share one of your writing goals and how you plan to achieve it.

Connect with Kim Castillo on facebook. You can see some of Kim’s wonderful marketing ideas on Eloisa James’s facebook page.

Like our Lachesis Publishing page on facebook. Follow us on twitter.

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