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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 16: Social Media Beyond the Cat Pictures

Rachel-Thompson1-225x300Rachel Thompson is a branding and marketing consultant for authors, a sexual abuse survivor and advocate, and a kick-ass redhead.

Rachel runs Bad Redhead Media, a company that helps authors with social media, marketing, and branding. Rachel is also a multi-published award winning and bestselling author. Her books include the following:  A Walk In The Snark humourous essays about women and motherhood/work/relationships; The Mancode Exposed witty essays about men, women, sex, and chocolate; Broken Pieces poignant and compelling essays about her experiences as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. She Social-Media-Bootcamp-Startis also one of the contributors to Self-Publishers Monthly. And she offers a social media bootcamp for authors.

Wow! Rachel Thompson is definitely a kick-ass redhead! She joins us today to share her insight and wisdom about the importance book marketing for authors.

Tell us about your background and how you got into the business of helping authors market their books?

Broken-Pieces-paperback-1I started out in marketing and sales back in 1987 (in soul-sucking Big Pharma, mostly recovered now thanks). I quit in 2004 to focus on family and start my writing career, which really took off in 2009 with blogging. I self-published my first two (humor) books in 2011, my third book of creative nonfiction/poetry Broken Pieces in late 2012, and am very close to releasing Broken Places (I’m now with hybrid publisher, Booktrope). I’m also working on a social media book for authors.

I found that applying my marketing and sales experiences to marketing and selling books fairly easy, and as a working mother, social media and digital marketing is a great way to build relationships and target readers. Utilizing my skills as a marketer and an author, I started my business, BadRedheadMedia in 2011, and most recently more affordable group sessions at Author Social Media Boot Camp. I focus strictly on social media, branding, and marketing authors, either doing their social media for them or teaching them how to do it.

Many authors just want to write their books and let amazon or their publishers take care of the rest – what do you say to that?

It’s a nice dream, but not reality at all. I have clients who are traditionally published by the Big Five and they are still doing all their own marketing. With advances in tech, readers expect to be able to connect with their favorite authors on Twitter or at the very least, Facebook.

And it’s not just about blasting book links — social media is social! This doesn’t just mean chatting about your cat. Provide great content (articles, quotes, pictures of said cat, or whatever interests you), branding yourself so readers think of you when they see something. It’s about creating expectations.

badredhead2-5-300x134You work with authors one-on-one to help them maximize their social media and sell books. What are some of the key things that you do to help authors become more savvy about social media?

As I mentioned above, branding isn’t some silly buzzword, it’s the foundation of everything you will do as an author. What interests you, what are you an expert in, what are you passionate about? This can have nothing to do with your book (though it usually does). Pick four or five topics that you find interesting and write about those (tweets, blog posts, pictures, quotes). This is you being authentic, not a automaton sharing ‘buy my book!’ links repeatedly which is ineffective at best and will get you blocked and reported for spam at worst.

For me, I experienced childhood sexual abuse, so I write about that openly in Broken Pieces. As a result of sharing my experiences so openly, I’ve created a survivor community on Facebook, a chat on Twitter (#SexAbuseChat every Tuesday 6pm PST that’s open to any survivor), an anthology (the #NoMoreShame Project), and more. And that’s just ONE topic!

This branding is very different than what I share on BadRedheadMedia, which is my business. There I share social media, marketing, and branding information.

Can being really good at social media translate into really good book sales?

Good question. Yes and no. LOL. There’s no one magic bullet. I have a list of about twenty things authors need to do to be successful, starting with a great book (professionally edited, designed, proofed, etc), along with multiple marketing activities that I share here in this article Tough Love for Authors.

Certainly developing a social media presence and personality helps an author it’s publicity, SEO, and interaction all rolled into one.

Some authors have social media accounts but no website. Do you think websites are necessary or do you think that being on facebook, amazon, and goodreads is enough?

I absolutely believe you must have a website! You also need to purchase your domain (it’s usually about $10). Think of it this way: your website is your home, a home you own. You decorate how you want, throw parties, invite people over for conversations. This is where you get to be you and it’s yours.

If you only have social media accounts, you are renting space that could, at any time, be taken away or shut down for repairs. Not only that, but you are subject to someone else’s rules and whims (aka, algorithms), and believe me, those change frequently.

One or the other isn’t really an option, either. It all works together.

When you look at the bestselling authors out there – aside from writing great books – what do they do well?

Most are ‘out there’ — interactive, authentic, approachable. Some are controversial, and that’s fine, too. Nobody said we have to be watered-down and palatable to all. They are well-branded, they know and trust their voice. We are no different — we need to trust ourselves, too. We are fascinated by story, as a culture. Famous authors are (usually) great storytellers.

There are sooooo many authors out there selling their books. How can Jane Doe Author stand out amongst all the rest?

Focus on your topics, and connecting with readers.

Each of us has unique experiences and we’ve got something to say. Not everyone is an amazing writer, but we all have stories to share. Being authentic and sharing those universal truths connect us. Don’t be afraid to be real!

What do you love to read? Who are some of your favourite authors?

I love paranormal — not your ‘vampire’ kind of stuff, but more the traditional ‘slightly south of normal’ kind of para. I’m a sucker for a good time-travel story. The Time-Traveler’s Wife is still one of my all-time favorite books. Anne Rice (The Witching Hour is great). I’m reading Deborah Harkness’ All Souls’ Trilogy now (which does have a non-sparkly, non-annoying vampire and a witch).

John Irving, Pat Conroy are literary fiction favorites. Hemingway, Wolff, Sexton, Dylan Thomas — a lot of the classic twentieth century poets.

Thank you Rachel Thompson for joining us today.

Connect with Rachel on her facebook page for bad redhead media, on twitter and on her bad redhead media website.

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 15: If At First You Don’t Succeed, Fail, Fail Again

WEB PIX PURPLE BOOK copyWhen I was working on Who’s Afraid of Happy Endings?, my documentary about the world of romance novels, I interviewed many successful authors. and one thing I often heard was how long it took so many of them to get published. I was flabbergasted. For some authors it took many years, even 10 years or more. My question is how can you even think of becoming a bestselling author if it took you 10 years to get published in the first place? Easy. You’ve got what it takes for the long haul.

Not everyone is going to get published from their very first query, or start a bidding war between publishers, or land a top agent with just one pitch. Yes we hear and read about those authors who become a huge success with their first book. Do you ask yourself – what does she/he have that I don’t? Of course you do. We all do. The point is, don’t wallow in that way of thinking. Some people become successful right away. That is the minority of course. They may or may not be able to deliver on book 2 or 3. Or they may continue their star status for years to come. But that doesn’t matter. Because you are on your path.

CarrienovelIf you believe that failure is not a good teacher then you are wrong. History shows us all the remarkable people who failed in their careers before becoming who they were meant to be, including Albert Einstein, the most famous physicist in history, and one of the richest and most successful business people in the world, Bill Gates. Check out this article in the huffingtonpost about famous people who had tremendous failure in their lives before going on to become great successes, including Stephen King, whose first novel Carrie, was rejected 30 times before he finally got published. Apparently he threw the manuscript in the trash and his wife fished it out! Now that’s a success story! The idea is don’t give up. If you have the passion, the drive, and the commitment to write then you have what it takes to become a bestseller.

And when you do get there, just imagine the great story you’ll have to share about how you became a bestselling author! 🙂

100_4277Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing Inc. She loves Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, great ideas, and a good story.

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 14: The Importance of an Author Website

Brad Fitzgerald - Apt DesignI’m so excited to have as my guest today website and graphic designer a.k.a. visual designer, Brad Fitzgerald, president of Apt Design. Brad, has a degree in graphic design and more than ten years experience in the biz. He launched Apt Design in 2007 to help businesses and their markets connect and grow.

Apt-Design-WebsiteGuess what authors? The moment you get published and your book is out there, you are running a business. So you need to think of yourself that way. Yes, you are artists, but you are also entrepreneurs and you have to connect to your readers – a.k.a. your market! And THE BEST WAY to do that is with a kick-ass website. Brad Fitzgerald‘s work is GORGEOUS. But not only that, his websites are functional and user friendly. So important for authors who are not techno-geeks and who need to be able to make their own updates and changes on their websites. And so important for readers and fans who want to peruse your site and find out more about you and your books. Finally, the cost is reasonable and worth it. An author web site is an investment in YOU. When a reader, or a potential reader, visits your site, you want them to feel welcome and excited. You want them to feel like they have just entered into a magical/unique/fascinating/world that they will come back to again and again. And best of all, you want them to feel engaged by the content you offer on your site. Think of your website as an extension of your books. It is where your books live and wait to be discovered by potential readers.

Tell us about your background and how you got into web site design.

I got my graphic design degree from Harding University in 2004. After my wife and I moved to Washington State I worked for two different companies for a bit before starting my own business. I thought when I started that I would just do print design, but clients were mostly asking for websites, so it was really just an answer to demand. I began using WordPress the day I started my new business, and taught myself how to code basic websites. Since then I have expanded and use other developers to create better code for larger websites. That allows me to focus on client relations, helping with content coordination, and my favorite part—website design.

Tell us about some of the authors that you’ve worked with and the sites you designed for them.

I’ve worked with quite a range of authors in the past few years. Everyone from self-published authors (like Justen Forge), to authors to have their own publishing company (like Tom Mullens), to popular bloggers (like Devon Corneal), to best-selling authors with hundreds of thousands of followers on jennifer-skiff-web-design-responsive-750x440social media (like Timothy O’Brien and Jennifer Skiff). Currently I’m doing a lot of work with Random House, helping create new, easy-to-use websites for their Teen division. In the last year we’ve put up new sites for Marcus Zusack, Ann Brashares, James Dashner, and a new site coming in the next few days!


tim-obrien-responsive-websiteWhen you work with an author – how do you determine the author’s needs? Not every one is savvy and knows what they want.

Great question. I do have a few things I recommend every author website have, but a big part of the process is also just asking authors what they like to see on their site and how much they want to update and work on their site. I have some clients who contact me anytime they want a word changed, and some who (with the power of WordPress) are constantly updating, tweaking, blogging, and enhancing their site. My clients are never expected to come to me with a certain level of tech-savviness – I enjoy working with whatever knowledge people have and helping them learn a little more.

ann-brashares-responsive-website-design-750x440The main question I have from authors is about social media and how much they should use it. I do recommend that authors use social media, but I recommend they only sign up on social media sites that they plan on actively updating and using. I (and most visitors) would much rather see only one social media feed that is active than six different social media feeds that haven’t been touched in months.

timothy-obrien-website-design-750x440Why do you think it’s important for an author to have a web site?

Authors need websites for a few reasons. First, it is your place online to own your content about your self and your writing. You may not have control over what is said on any other sites, but the information about you on your website is owned, created, and curated by you.

Secondly your website is a great place for readers to find out about you and your books. For potential readers this means learning more about your book and why they should read it, and for current readers it’s a way to connect to an author and to explore the world around the book.

Lastly your website should be the central hub of your online presence. While you may have a Facebook account and Pinterest page, all of your marketing (both online and offline) should be driving your visitors to your website. Your website should in turn drive your visitors to take an action. In this case, probably buy your book!

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 11.11.45 AMWhat can a great web site do for an author?

A great website can create the base of your author platform. You can engage your readers and put them in the mood of your writing in just a few seconds with visual imagery that reflects the personality of your books. You can make your readers feel connected to you in a way that few other things can by offering a rich world of information outside of – but connected to – your books. And it can promote you to readers 24/7 by giving information about upcoming events, feeding news about your book, and letting them know when your new works are available! And that leads to what a great website can really do for an author – help sell their books.

How can a web site enhance an author’s social media appeal or “reach”?

As I mentioned before your website should be the hub of your online presence. It’s the place that everything revolves back to. For one reason that’s because it’s a place for you to write long form content (often difficult on social media). It can be a base for answers people have about your books, a single spot for people to go to buy your book, and give a complete overview of yourself and your books all-in-one place. Your website can also be a steady standard while some social media channels come and go.

Hiring Brad Fitzgerald to create my website was the greatest gift I gave to myself in 2013.  He is a pleasure to work with! ~ Bestselling author, Jennifer Skiff,

Hiring Brad Fitzgerald to create my website was the greatest gift I gave to myself in 2013. He is a pleasure to work with! ~ Bestselling author, Jennifer Skiff,

A lot of authors shy away from a hiring a professional to create a web site for them because they think the cost is prohibitive. How can investing in a web site save money and make money for the author in the long run?

In my office I have a small charred memento that taught me a valuable lesson. Before a camping trip one time I went to a big box store and bought the cheapest camping cooking pan I could find. The next day as I heated my supper over an open fire the pan itself actually begin to melt and burn away. All that remained was a little fragment of the handle. I kept that twisted metal to remind me that you always get what you pay for.

I totally understand that websites can be expensive and cost prohibitive. If an author is just starting out, has no books published yet, or totally strapped for cash hiring a professional designer might not be the best option yet.

Hiring a professional is not necessarily the upfront cheapest option when it comes to creating website – there are plenty of pop-up banners everywhere advertising free websites! But cheap or free sites will often create headaches and frustrations for any client. The time, energy, and constant drip of money that “cheap” sites can use up could be much better spent elsewhere – like on your writing!

Dealing with a true professional should be the opposite experience – it is easy, invigorating and I’ve even had some clients describe it as fun! Getting to see your books translated into a visual design is a thrilling experience, and knowing that you have a website that is easy for users to use and that sells books for you can be a big relief.

What do you love to read? Who are some of your favourite authors?

I’ve always been a big fan of science-fiction and fantasy, I can remember devouring the Dragonlance Chronicles in my room as a young boy. The classics are always great as well, especially ones old like Dante’s Inferno and Ovid’s Metamorphosis – where the context provided in the footnotes makes the story come alive.

Since my first daughter was born five years ago I’ll admit that there has been a lot less reading of Dante and Ovid and a lot more Dr. Seuss and Karen Katz. In kid’s books Mo Willems’ books are favorites of everyone in our household.

I also love running, and reading about running. In the many books about running I’ve read, Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr. stands out head and shoulders above the rest.

Thank you so much Brad for sharing your insight and knowledge with us today. It’s clear that your web sites are not only beautiful but also engaging and unique to the author.

You can contact Brad Fitzgerald (Apt Design) on his web site. He is also on twitter and facebook.

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 12: The Blog Tour or Blog Hop

bannerStarting today (Oct. 1) and running until Oct. 14, some of our Lachesis Publishing authors are going to be highlighted on various blogs throughout the blog-o-sphere.


We worked with Sparkle Book Tours on this tour.

I’m loving all the graphics they’ve created for the tour, which I will be passing on to each author for their own use. Talk about some great takeaway! 🙂

Here are a few samples of what they created for every book that’s featured on the tour:

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There are a lot of blog tour companies out there – and you may try a few different ones just to see how they work out. But here are some points to consider when working with a blog tour company:

1. Find out the kinds of blogs they work with and the kind of audience the blogs have. It doesn’t have to be a huge audience but certainly the “right” audience for you. For example if you’ve written an historical romance you want to be featured on blogs that primarily write about historicals and have a loyal fan base of historical lovers.

2. Are they going to “package” your post? Whether it’s a promo for your book or spotlight of you or an article you’ve written – how will the tour company “present” your post on the blog tour? Will they include graphics? Will they format it in a particular way?

3. Who does the uploading – do you send the tour company your post or do you send it to the blog directly?

4. Cost! Ask about their different packages and the costs involved.

5. Social Media: Does the blog tour company have a facebook and twitter account with substantial followers? Will they be promoting your blog on their own social media pages?

6. Time: How long is the tour going to last and how close together are the bookings? Hopefully the tour company is open to arranging the tour to work with your schedule. I think a good tour should be done over a period of days or weeks blocked together to build momentum and create more buzz.

7. Create a variety of different posts for the tour. You don’t want the exact same post for each blog. Perhaps four or five different posts that you can spread out.

8. Don’t be afraid to check out the blogs ahead of time. You want to make sure that those blogs are appropriate for your tour and what you are promoting.

9. Word of mouth! Ask your author friends what tour companies they’ve used and what they thought of them.

10. Giveaways! Don’t forget to give something away for each post. Usually a free book. But if you want to get creative go for it!

Blog tours can be very useful and helpful in promoting your books. The idea is to get readers interested and excited in your books and hopefully generate some new fans!

Here two articles I found online that go through some of the blog tour companies and actually rate them! Here’s one in the Self-Publishing Review and one from The Book Designer.

Have fun!

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 11: Agent or No Agent?

Today we chat with the wonderful and amazing Michelle Grajkowski who is the founder of the dynamic 3 Seas Literary Agency.

Michelle and KelseyAbout Michelle:

From the moment Michelle Grajkowski first opened the doors to the 3 Seas Literary Agency in August of 2000, she has been living her dream. (What could be better than surrounding yourself with amazing authors and their exciting and imaginative books?)

Since then, she’s successfully sold more than 475 projects into all the major publishing houses. Her clients include New York Times Bestselling Authors Katie MacAlister, Cathy McDavid, Kerrelyn Sparks and C.L. Wilson. Michelle primarily represents romance, women’s fiction, young adult and middle grade fiction. She is currently looking for fantastic writers with a voice of their own.

When not curled up with a great manuscript, Michelle loves to spend time with her husband, children and her two crazy puppies, who refuse to grow up, Libby and Gizmo.

Tell us about 3 Seas Literary Agency and how you launched. (bad pun 😉

Well…  I really came into agenting in a round-about way!  When I was in high school, my aunt published 3 books with Harlequin.  She dedicated one of them to me, and I was hooked. I really thought I wanted to be a writer. So, I attended the UW Madison and majored in Journalism, all the time thinking I would write. But, while there, I was working as a student for the UW Hospital in the Purchasing Department and discovered my love for business. I knew I wanted to go into sales, so I changed my focus from writing to marketing and public relations.

Right out of college, my first job was selling computers to the education market in the state of Wisconsin. I loved selling – the networking, communication, problem solving – everything that came with the career, but I HATED computers.

Flash forward a year –  my aunt had suffered a health scare (and thankfully is OK!), but to get her back into writing, my mom, my grandma, my aunt and I all formed a critique group, and I started writing a romance. Let’s just say I got through one chapter . . . Anyway, I loved going to the meetings. I loved editing, brainstorming, critiquing – everything that goes into writing, but the writing itself! I told my family I would rather sell their stuff than to write my own.

And, thank God for my aunt – she told me people actually do that for a living.  I knew right then and there that agenting was the career for me.

So, I joined RWA, read the RWRs from cover to cover, learned who was buying romances, took a trip to New York and met with all the major houses while I was there. I asked them if being an agent in Madison, Wisconsin would be a problem, and thank goodness they all responded with a “no.”  They said with email, phone and FAXES (am I dating myself or what?!) that an agent could agent from anywhere – as long as they had an eye for talent and an understanding of the business.

client breakfast 2The rest, as they say is history! I officially opened my doors to the 3 Seas Literary Agency in August of 2000. Seven years later, my amazing Aunt Cori joined my agency as an Agent.

My business truly is a family affair!  My grandma helps with office work, my mom with my computer needs, and in January, I hired my husband as my full-time business manager. He has his MBA and retired the beginning of this year after 24 years in the military. It’s been a remarkable journey, and I’m so blessed to have built a successful business that my family is such a huge part of!

Who are some of the authors that you represent?

3 Seas represents about 60 authors, including Lachesis’ own JoMarie DeGioia. Personally, I also represent NYT and USA Today Bestselling authors Katie MacAlister, Cathy McDavid, Alexis MorganKerrelyn Sparks and C.L. Wilson. The agency also represents award-winning YA authors Jennifer Brown and Natalie Richards. And, recently, I just sold an amazing non-fiction project, PENGUIN’S CAN’T FLY, to St. Martin’s Press by nationally renowned motivational speaker Jason Kotecki. As a whole, we mainly represent romance, women’s fiction and children’s books (YA and Middle Grade), but we also represent mysteries and thrillers as well as select non-fiction titles. Our client list can be found on our website, www.threeseasagency.com. We are also active on Facebook and Twitter.

What can a literary agent do for authors that they can’t do for themselves?

This is such a great question because our role ever-changing.

As an agent, I handle each one of my author’s careers individually, and I try to cater to their individual needs. Some of my clients call with a nibble of an idea which we brainstorm. I love, love, love to brainstorm! From that point, my authors will send me their proposals and full manuscripts, which I edit and critique.

It’s an agent’s job to know the market, to know the key players and to help our authors make the best deal possible for their individual career. So, I spend a lot of time developing relationships on all levels.

An agent also needs to understand publishing contracts. It’s our job to make sure our clients are signing the best contracts possible. I send my contracts to my attorney who reads over all the fine print and together we negotiate boilerplate contracts so the terms tip to favor my authors.

We also help with marketing and publicity ideas, and use social media to get the word out about new releases, etc . . .

The most important value that an agent brings to the table, though, is advocacy. I love each and every one of my clients and am there to fight for them however they need me. If they have an icky copyedit, I call the editor to discuss it so they don’t have to have that conversation first. If there is an issue with the cover, I try to smooth it over and fix it with the editor. If royalties don’t reconcile, we are there to work with the accounting department to fix the errors.  And, if an author receives a rejection or a not-so-happy review, we are there in their corner, lifting them back up and making sure everything will be all right.

I love my job – I love advocating for my clients and helping them reach all their goals and dreams.  It’s a blessing, and I feel so lucky to be able to work in such a fun, creative business.

What do you think the role of the author is, once his or her book is released?

That’s when all the fun begins!!  Social media has changed the game face of publishing forever.  Readers are reaching out to authors in so many more ways than was possible even five years ago. It used to be that readers would send paper fan letters by the bundle! Now, with social media, a reader can interact with her favorite authors in real time! As an author, it’s so important to make those connections – through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and blogs. It can be really time consuming, but building that relationship is so important. As we continue to see the number of books published continue to rise, it’s so important to have a presence on the internet so when an author has a new release, they have fans ready and engaged to purchase the book. Even more importantly, their fans will have a platform themselves to tell their friends about the book! Word of mouth is the best way to be discovered!

In your opinion what does it take to become a bestselling author?

First and foremost, an author must have a compelling voice! Readers all want the same thing – to be carried away to a new world. To feel like the characters in the book are alive, are their best friends, are people they can relate to, even in a different place or time. They want to feel – to be emotionally invested, whether it’s through humor or pain, they want to feel.

The second step is to find a strong publishing house that can help promote your book – to get it into the hands of readers through strategic placement, marketing and pricing promotions. A strong publisher who can help create an amazing package – from the editing to the cover to the cover copy.  A strong publisher who utilizes the media and their readers to help bolster the discoverability of their authors.

And, finally, it all circles back to marketing – an author needs to put themselves out there, to really reach out to the fans, and to discover new readers through blog tours, Facebook posts, book signings, events, conferences, writing groups, book clubs, etc.  There is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan – and you don’t have to do everything.  But, you need to figure out what works for you and for your fans and to reach out in the best way that you can.

What are the top five things that every author should do when submitting a manuscript to an agency or a publisher?

1)    Be Professional!
2)    Adhere to the individual submission guidelines.
3)    Address the e-query to the specific person you are querying to.
4)    If this is your first manuscript, don’t query until it’s complete.
5)    Put in your query any important information, like contest wins, published books and other credentials.

client breakfastYou attend many conferences and take pitches all the time. What are some definite Dos and dreadful Don’ts when pitching?

My favorite pitch goes something like this:

“Hi, I’m Aretha Author and I write historical romances. I love to write American set historicals, and am a huge fan of Gone With the Wind. Today I would love to tell you about my latest project, Scarlett’s Revenge, a 100,000-word Civil War set historical romance where, even though Scarlett goes hungry again, with perseverance and a sexy little red curtain dress, she rebuilds her childhood home of Tara, and reclaims her lost love – Rhett, who frankly, my dear, does give a damn.”  (OK, that’s a huge run on sentence, but you get the point!)

From there, I love it when the author takes a break and we start to converse.  I get to ask questions about the story and the characters, and she jumps in with concise answers, leaving us with time at the end to discuss other things, like career plans, successes, etc.

Here’s the thing —  you have 8-10 minutes to “pitch” your book to an agent or editor at a conference.  And, honestly, most of the recent authors I have added to my list I have met at conferences. Not because their pitch was perfect. But, because during that pitch I had time to ask questions and to get to know them. For me, my relationship with my authors is crucial. I want to feel a connection to my clients, to really get to know them and to develop trust and a solid foundation. This pitch appointment is the first step.

I know it feels like everything is riding on this quick little appointment, but it’s not. Most agents that I know request everything they are pitched because honestly, some of the worst pitches are the best books! We can’t tell what your writing is like until we read it.

Another way to look at this is to put the power back into your court. As much as you want to find an agent, we want to find an author to add to our list. Try to think of this as an interview. YOU are interviewing US. Can you work with the person you are pitching to? Do they make you feel comfortable? Do they have the type of personality that matches yours? Take the time to get to know the agent. Pitch them the book, tell them about your career goals and successes. But, leave time to ask questions – about anything. The business, what they are looking for, if they are enjoying the conference . . . just anything pertinent. After a couple of hours of straight pitches, I promise, the conversation will be super appreciated – on both sides!

Does chocolate go with every book?

Doesn’t chocolate go with everything?  J

OK, one of the downfalls (or I guess huge benefits) of my husband being my business manager is that he feels like one of his duties is to keep my candy dish on my desk full!  It’s truly a double-edged sword. My heart loves him for it, my hips are another story. 😉

Favourite spot to read a manuscript: office, couch or bed?

My favorite spot is my front porch!  It’s so relaxing hearing the birds singing while I’m reading and sipping tea. I almost feel guilty doing my job – almost!  J

Where’s the strangest place you’ve been pitched?

Luckily I haven’t been approached in many strange places.  But, the strangest query I ever received was an email query that was written in a very pale pink script font which I couldn’t read at all on my screen. So I had to copy the entire email into Word, change the font color and the font in order to read it.  I don’t recommend that as an attention grabber when trying to find an agent or an editor!

Thank you so much for sharing your insight with us today!

Contact Michelle at Three Seas Literary Agency on their web site: www.threeseasagency.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our facebook page.

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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!

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

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 8: It’s all about the book cover

373bd6148cd39a48d144c4fd93082ace_tcuaPart 8 in our ongoing series is about the importance of the book cover! Book covers are the most important tool that we have to sell a book. Book covers instantly tell us what a book is about. And if they are really good, they also draw us in and make us want to read the blurb and buy the book. Today we feature a Q and A with the very talented and creative book cover designer and artist, Laura Givens. Laura creates all the wonderful covers for Lachesis Publishing.

How did you get into cover book design?

For years I was basically a cartoonist and was doing advertising work, cut and paste work mostly.  Then I got diabetes and my vision went all wonky.  There was no comfortable distance for my drawing board that left me free to look at other things. Then a friend gave me a graphics tablet for Christmas which sat around gathering dust for a couple of months. I mean, what do I know about computers? Bored and depressed one night, I started to play with the darned thing and . . . WOW!!! Within a couple of months I was turning out some pretty slick stuff which I showed to another old friend, Robin D. Owens, an award winning Paranormal Romance writer. She showed my stuff to an editor friend and I was given a tryout assignment.  That editor must have liked what she saw because nine years later I’m still doing them.

What and/or who are your artistic inspirations?

97670That would be a very long list ranging from comic book illustrators to classical illustrators to fine artists like Van Gogh and Picasso. Two that I will single out, though neither was a romance artist, are James Bama and Norman Rockwell. Rockwell always told a story with his paintings that made you feel like you had been there yourself. This is so important for a book cover, it invites the reader in to hear a good story about someone who could easily be a friend. Bama is the Guy who did all the marvelous Doc Savage covers back in the sixties. He did dozens of covers that always had Doc standing there in a torn shirt. They were basically all the same cover but he managed to make each one feel fresh, new and exciting.  That is magic.

Why are book covers so important and what are the most important elements that go into a good book cover?

While romance covers are a particular challenge, they still have the same job as every other type of book cover. A cover has to stop a potential reader long enough for her to pick the book up and want to see what’s inside. From that point it’s all on the author. With romance readers there is also the task of letting them know that this is an author that they have likely read and loved before, but this is also something new and fresh.

What kind of research do you do when working on a cover?
My work with Lachesis Publishing mostly involves my skills as a designer as you (LeeAnn Lessard) usually give me an image to start with that didn’t originate with me. So I go plunging into typefaces, trying to find something that will enhance the book and evoke the right emotions. I often also have to do research of old clothing to get details right for the period of the book. Those wonderful dresses rarely come off the rack as is.

If I looked at your desk right this moment, what would I find sitting there?
Oh geez, there’s my Kermit the Frog mug filled with pencils, my Rollgirls hand fan (Yay, roller derby!) and various drawing tools. Next to all that is my cool, detailed skull wearing a cheesy, plastic pirate eye-patch. There’s canned air, a bendy grey alien, various CDs, papers, half a bottle of Gorilla Glue and my trusty graphics tablet . . . You know, the usual.

We love all of your covers! Here are 3 of the covers you did for us: It was hard to pick!
Tell us what you like about each cover and how you came up with them.
Secret Journals Posession 1400x2100The Possession by J.D. Spikes
more-than-charmingMore Than Charming by JoMarie DeGioia
SEASON FOR MURDER COVERSeason For Murder by J.M. Griffin

As I said before, I usually don’t come up with the actual “art” or photograph used in these covers. What I do is take these various elements and work with my editor until it becomes a real, honest-to-gosh cover. This can entail everything from re-coloring, to cropping, to adding dramatic lighting and a sense of drama or humor. I always love working on J.M.’s books because they let me stick my tongue into my cheek, where it should be. Both of the covers by J.D. and JoMarie let me stretch my drama legs, finding that special place that brings a sigh and a smile to the reader’s lips. They know they are in for a great read. When you pick up a book by these authors, the cover reassures you that you have stepped in the right door and that is what branding is all about.

What do YOU like to read?

I’m not much of a romance reader, though I do read Robin Owens sometimes, but tend more toward science fiction. Now I’m not talking fantasy here (Though I do make an exception for George Martin’s marvelous Game of Thrones) I love hard SF. Vernor Vinge, Alan Steele, Arthur C Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Connie Willis. Give me space ships and time travel and I am a happy girl.

What do you do when you finish a cover? Do you celebrate or take a nap?

On a really good day, I jump right into the next cover. The only thing I dislike about being a book cover artist is when there is nothing fun to plunge into. It’s sad to think that everyone doesn’t have a job they feel that way about.

To connect with Laura Givens visit her web site.





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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 6 (Q and A with bestseller Cathryn Fox)

cathrynfoxCathryn Fox is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She writes sexy contemporary romance, erotica, and hot paranormal romance. New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster describes Cathryn’s books as, “sizzling, irresistible and wonderful”. USA Today bestselling author Julianne MacLean calls Cathryn, “The next Queen of Steamy Romance.” National bestselling author Sylvia Day says, “A Cathryn Fox book is a must-read great escape!” 

Cathryn is our guest today and she’s got a lot to say about what it takes to be a bestselling author!

What do you love about being an author?

I honestly love being able to write down the stories that are in my head.  I also love the flexibility of my job. I was able to be home with the kids when they were young, and my husband is a shift worker, so if he’s off during the week, I can take a day off and just make up for it on the weekend.

Tell us the backstory of how you hit the bestseller lists – for which book (s)?

tornbetweentwobrothers_lgI’ve been on the USA Today list three times, and New York Times Twice, and let me say, the second and third times are just as exciting as the first. My book, Torn Between Two Brothers was in the Love in Disguise boxed set and hit USA Today. Yours To Take, was in Unraveled and hit USA Today AND New York times, and in July, Torn Between Two Brothers hit both lists in the Spice Boxed set. yourstotake_lg

How long have you been writing and how long did it take you to get on a bestseller list?

pleasurecontrol_mmI’ve been writing full time since 2000.  I hit my first big bestsellers list last year with my Pleasure Games Trilogy, a special three-book bundle for Costco and Walmart! I hit The Globe and Mail top ten!

How much time do you spend on social media every day? And what are some of the things that you do on your social media sites to engage with readers and fans?

histroubleintallulah_lgI am on facebook and twitter everyday. I would say for about an hour. In an effort to engage readers, I post pictures of numerous things, such as the deer who are currently eating all my fruit trees, the fire pit we just put in, the sailboat in the harbor near the boardwalk I walk in the evenings. I think readers want to hear about the ‘authors’ not just the books. I also recently started FOXY FICTION, it’s a facebook street team where I give sneak peaks, share excerpts, deleted scenes and will soon hold a contest where the reader can get THEIR name in my book. I’m seeking new members, so if any of your readers out there are interested in hanging out with me, please come by!

What if an author is starting out in social media – on facebook and twitter etc…or what if they haven’t gotten much buzz – what are some things an author can do to create a buzz or get more followers?

There are many facebook groups that host promotional parties. Definitely try to get involved. It’s great for exposure, especially when it’s a multi-author party. During your time slot offer incentives, perhaps a draw for a free ebook, to all those who liked your facebook author page, joined your street team, or newsletter. Other facebook places offer page takeovers and this way you get a chance to interact with their readers. I will be taking part in the Twin Sisters Rockin Book Reviews page takeover on the 18th of August 7-9 Eastern. If anyone out there is interested to see how it’s run, please stop by.

Based on your own experience, do you think it’s a good idea for an author to invest in his or her own promotional and marketing budget? If so – what are some of the important things that an author should consider?
crashingdown_lgMarketing is so important today, especially if you are indie publishing. Without a publishing house behind you, everything is left in the author’s hands. What good is it to write a book, put it out there, only for no one to know about it?  It doesn’t always have to be expensive. (especially since most things can be done digitally today!) You can reach out to goodreads reviewers and give them an advanced copy of your book to generate early reviews. You can ask friends to tweet or post on facebook for you. You can also purchase some fairly inexpensive ad space at places like Storyfinds, Ereadernews Today, Digital Book Today, Kindle Fire Department, Romance Reads, Fresh Fiction.  If you have a higher budget you can reach out to marketing and public relations specialists like InkslingerPR.  

Do you do brick and mortar book tours? If so, do you arrange them on your own or do you go through your publisher or an agency? Why are book tours still important in today’s huge e-book market?

I have done a few locally that were arranged on my own. I think it’s important to get out there and make that face-face connection with readers. During a tour you can also sell your book digitally, so it doesn’t matter if the reader likes print book or ebook, they can still walk away with your shiny new book.
Do you do online book tours? If so, do you go through agencies or arrange them on your own? What do you like about online book tours?

I’ve done online blog tours and they were arranged by both me, for my indie books, and my publisher for my traditional books. Goddess Fish is who I used. I enjoy it because I can do either, questions and answers, or write a blog post on a topic of my choice. My work/name gets put in front of many, many readers.

What do you think it takes to become a bestselling author?

knockingondemonsdoor_lgHard work, dedication, drive, ambition, knowledge of the industry, and a little bit of luck! It also takes a good book, good cover and a great support group behind the scenes who is willing to read and reread that book until it’s perfect!

A 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?

You are right. I’ve read lots of excellent books that have not hit bestseller lists. I think bestsellers study the market, are always evaluating the changes in the industry and are willing to change with it. I also believe they are prepared to try new things, even at the risk of failing.

Thank you for stopping by!

Thank you for having me!

You can connect with Cathryn Fox online at her web site and on facebook and twitter.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our facebook page.

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? – Part 4: Promoting your books in a creative way

Eloisa James - Three Weeks With Lady X

Eloisa James – Three Weeks With Lady X

Welcome to Part 4 of our ongoing series focusing on how to become a bestselling author. Today we feature an interview with Sharlene Martin Moore. Sharlene is a creator/designer of online postcards. Her cards are used by some of the most successful authors in the biz to promote their books on various social media networking sites as well as on on their own websites and blogs.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips - Heroes Are My Weakness

Susan Elizabeth Phillips – Heroes Are My Weakness

Her cards a.k.a. image memes, are an example of what creates a buzz online. When an author wants to promote his/her book they turn to  Sharlene to get the right tone and look that will convey the spirit of their book. Whatever you want to call them – graphic image cards, online postcards or graphic memes – they are attention grabbing and they have the ability to create a stir among readers and fans. Whether you want to announce a special sale, or a contest you are running, or to grab attention before an upcoming release – Sharlene will get it done. She is one of the dynamic people working behind the scenes, helping authors become bestsellers! 

Beatriz Williams - The Secret Life of Violet Grant

Beatriz Williams – The Secret Life of Violet Grant

What do you do for authors?

I create graphic image cards for authors to use on Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter.

Who are some of the authors you’ve worked with and books you’ve done postcards for?

Eloisa James, Linda Francis Lee, Lauren Willig, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer McQuiston, Katharine Ashe, Kate Noble, Sara Jane Stone, Cathy Maxwell, Terri Osburn, Emily Greenwood and Cat Devon. I just started working with Ella Quinn and Jill Shalvis which is exciting.

Cat Devon - Paranormal Romance Author

Cat Devon – Paranormal Romance Author

Do you have a lot of repeat clients?

Yes, I do have a lot of repeat clients which makes me very happy.

Tell us about your background – how did you get started as a postcard designer?

Eloisa James - sentiment card (to interact with readers and fans)

Eloisa James – sentiment card (to interact with readers and fans)

I am a former elementary school teacher with a great love for arts and crafts. I loved glitter as a child and making attractive bulletin boards for my classroom as a teacher. Eloisa James is responsible for my start. I shared a couple of cards I had made with her, she liked them and off I went. As she shared cards on her Facebook page, other authors asked her who was doing them and she sent them to me. I owe her so much and I am honored to work with her and her assistant Kim Castillo.

What do you charge for a post card and how often can an author post it and where? Can they post it forever or is there a time limit? Can other people (i.e. fans/readers) repost it online?

collage featuring postcards for various auuthors

collage featuring postcards for various authors

I charge $5 per card or you can get 6 cards for $25. The author can post the card as many times as they want on any online medium such as Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest. Some authors share them on their blogs and use them on Twitter. There is no time limit on the cards. I love for others  to repost them and I know the authors love it too. 

How do you put a postcard together? What kinds of quotes and images do you look for?

It begins with a background, then either a quote or author blurb, possibly a review. I work to create an image that will convey artistically the message the author wants to share.

Lauren Willig - The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla

Lauren Willig – The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla

Can an author provide you with the image and the quote?

Definitely, some pick the quotes they want on the card and some ask me to find quotes from their book. Also some want the book cover on each card.

In your experience, how popular and successful are online or social networking postcards and why?

I think graphic cards or memes are very popular. I feel they are successful because a graphic image catches your attention much like billboards do. Images are the most shared and talked about posts on Facebook.

Are you open to doing cards for authors who write horror, suspense, or mysteries?

I am open to other genres as long as the material is not offensive to me.

Eloisa James - Paris in Love

Eloisa James – Paris in Love

Why do authors keep coming back to you again and again?

I have priced my product to be affordable even by new authors on a limited budget. The cards allow them to share snippets from new books, announce a new cover, and share the word about a limited time sale and so much more. They are pretty and everyone likes pretty. Social media moves so quickly, especially on Facebook, my cards allow authors to share something that will get attention.

What do you love the most about creating these images?

I love being able to create something that someone I admire likes. It is very rewarding to see my cards on the Facebook pages of authors I have admired and read for years. 

LFL12Connect with Sharlene Martin Moore via facebook, on her web site and on twitter.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our facebook page.





Filed under Best-selling authors, Bestselling Authors, Book Promotion, Lachesis Publishing, Promoting Your Books, Social Media Networking for authors