Tomorrow the Train Pulls into the Station for the Final Stop on the Virtual Book Tour…

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It’s been a wild two months. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the blogs related to the tour as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Tomorrow is a visit to La libreria di Beppe, or Beppe’s Bookshop in English. It’s kind of exciting to think that someone in Italy was interested in talking about the book.

I thought today I would do a bit of postmortem analysis of the tour.

The tour has been fun as far as seeing the reviews, and so forth, but unfortunately hasn’t translated into sales. We’ve had 23 KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) read over the length of the tour and no actual sales.

Would I do it again? I’m not sure.

Pros:

  1. exposure to numerous sites that I would not likely have found otherwise.
  2. some new Twitter followers that likely have come from the tour notices.
  3. a new appreciation of blogging in general.

Cons:

  1. even on sale, it was an expensive marketing tool.
  2. there were no tangible results.
  3. part of the problem is that the book was not a new release. (Probably a BIG part.)

 

I learned a great deal from the experience. And I am extremely grateful to Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Tours for all her hard work. But I think I will keep looking for the right promotion tool…

See you tomorrow for our final tour stop–and then you guys will really have to help me figure out what I should talk about next for The Conn-Mann Chronicles.

 

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Blogging Is Becoming a Habit…

I really like talking to everyone every day, but it doesn’t give me much time to do everything else I need to get done. It’s something to get a handle on. In the meantime, working on figuring out the best way to do stuff.

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For example, I’ve been reading the great advice that I found on lifesfinewhine. Especially the advice about bringing visitors back to your site. I have managed to schedule one post ahead…and I need to look into doing more of that, but for now, I’m rather enjoying the break from “real writing,” though I have a lot of editing to do too, so I need to figure that work into the equation as well.

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I don’t spend as much time on Facebook as I used to, but it is a good way to interact with people. For example, the Coffee With Songs By Rie Sheridan Rose event today was a lot of fun. Lots of great comments and Marc Gunn was in fine form. He even sang “Scouring the Shire” for me!

I make sure that my blog posts all appear on Facebook and Twitter, and also share life events and fun stuff as well as other writing news.

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I need to do more on Pinterest…mainly because it is a good place to storyboard and collect reference materials. I do have several boards so far. One for my photos pinned by other people. The aforementioned reference materials. And The Conn-Mann board among others.

There isn’t a photo spelling out Twitter, but this is one of the places I feel most successful. My impressions have been going up. It helps that I’ve been posting all the tour stops. We’ll have to see if it keeps up after Friday…

I am always looking for help with marketing and promotion, so if you have any advice or insights, let me know in the comments. 🙂

 

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Penultimate Stop Today

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Our final stop will be Friday, but today we visit Literarily Speaking for something a bit different–a First Chapter Review.

It was kinda cool to see how excited the reviewer was about the first chapter and how it seems to have made her want to keep reading, which was a great thing…

…the only problem was how it highlighted the confusion that can be caused by the Dime Novels at the beginning of each chapter in the first four books.

She calls the character “Kate” through the whole review. (I’ve made a polite comment about the mix-up, so it may be edited by the time you see it.) I hate to take anything away from Jo!

It brings to mind the old question…should I go back and take out the Dime Novels? Some people skip them as a matter-of-course. Some people don’t understand them and get a negative impression from the beginning, which is bad. Some people actually like them–myself included, of course… To me, they add to the ambiance of the period, and the plots of the Dime Novels are supposed to reflect the plots of the books.

What do you think?

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Winding Down the Tour…

grayscale photography of train on railroad

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This is the last week of tour stops. It’s been an interesting ride. Today’s stop is an interview about self-publishing at Self-Publishing Showcase.

One of the things we did this weekend was set up the new TV we had to get to replace the one with the vertical drop-out in the center. My husband was so proud of his wall-mounting job and the shelves he hung over it for the DVDs and games. (I was going to take a picture and share it, but with that level of reflection, it will have to wait until the living room is cleaned up from the quarantine!) Still, watching that gorgeous picture gave me a game for today. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Let’s play Cast the Chronicles.

It’s every writer’s dream to see their baby on the screen…whether in a movie version or TV series. Well, maybe not EVERY writer, but a whole lot of them. It’s not likely to happen for an obscure Steampunk series by an author with no name recognition but, hey, that’s where the dream part comes in.

I think, if I were casting The Marvelous Mechanical Man, I would want unknowns for Jo and Alistair because that brings no expectations created by former roles. Does that make sense?

We Roses think that Zach Galifianakis would be a good Herbert, though a bit older than envisioned in the book. He has all the other attributes of the character.

Fred should be a good foil for Jo, so similar in age and a bit taller.

Phaeton would be CGI, probably, as he is supposed to be nine feet tall–a detail admittedly lost quite often in the narrative… So, here, it is only the voice that is important. To me, he always sounds grave and a bit ponderous in my head. Though I know someone with the most beautiful voice. I wonder if David Michael Bennett would be interested in some voice acting?

Ma. Okay, let’s go pie-in-the-sky here, partially fueled by the fact that I am re-watching all of American Horror Story from the beginning. Kathy Bates would be awesome. Motherly and warm.

Vanessa and Aunt Emily. Any thoughts?

I’ve always seen Leonora as Jane Seymour, but she doesn’t come in until Book Two.

So, a mix of unknowns and wishes. Anybody want to play with me? Who do you think would be good cast members if it came down to it?

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Today’s Tour Stop–Publishing Secrets

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Today’s tour stop is on Book Publishing Secrets: How to Publish Your Book. It talks about the number of publishers I’ve lost…Novel Books, Inc.; Sunnyside Up Publications; L&L Dreamspell; LTD Books…and many more.

That sounds bad, but unfortunately, it’s the reality of this business. Small presses are very difficult to run. There are dozens of expenses–as this link discusses. (It uses British monetary units, but gives you an idea.) Cover artists to pay, author royalties, overhead, printing, and that’s all before the promotion budget gets allocated.

It’s overwhelming when you have several authors depending on you. I know it must be because it is overwhelming when I am doing it all myself!

I don’t blame any of the publishers that folded under my work. They were hard-working visionary people who wanted to provide quality books for authors who often were trying new, cutting-edge manuscripts that didn’t fit the mainstream requirements. (And it’s not like you make a lot more money with a traditional publisher…)

Unfortunately, they didn’t have the resources to keep their doors open. This is a problem that plagues a lot of start-ups, in and out of the publishing business.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t great small presses who are keeping their door wide open and are fighting the good fight. Supporting these organizations will help ensure that independent presses don’t completely fade away. Here are some great houses with deep stables of fascinating authors and wonderful books. Check out the offerings from Zumaya Publications, Mocha Memoirs Press, Yard Dog Press, Lycan Valley Publications, Horror Addicts Press, or some of the other small presses out there.

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Today’s Stop–Tea and Kittens

locomotive train toy

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Today’s stop is at Sheila’s Guests and Reviews. It’s another look at promotion because one can never discuss that too much. This time, I focus on thinking outside the box. Finding the thing that makes your book special or different and work that into your promotion plan.

In my case, it was tea and kittens. 🙂

If you can find someone to collaborate with, you can do some pretty cool things. Like my teas. These were crafted with care by Genevieve Dodd of Tea Punk Teas. She is a fan of the books and helped to come up with combinations of flavors that we felt really capture the spirit of the characters. Jo is full of caffeine and sparkling fruit flavors. Alistair is laid back, with notes of chocolate sweetness. (And currently sold out!) Leonora has lavender and lots of shapes that make it easy to read the leaves. They seem to have gotten rave reviews, so we did something right.

I am always looking for the next great thing. A new promo idea can sometimes boost sales. Though it doesn’t always work. Postcards and business cards are the easiest way to get your name out there, but keep in mind how many of them there are in the world. To go this route, I will once again say, Vistaprint is a great resource. 4imprint has some cool stuff with a more corporate flair that can be great for drawing prizes or special offers. And Oriental Trading Company has neat little giveaway items. National Pen is a good source of pens, pencils, and keychains. For more substantial items, CafePress can provide T-shirts and kitchenware. 

I’ve said some of this before, but not everyone reads every post, so it is good to reinforce things now and then.

Whatever you do, think outside the box and make your promo your own. What is special about your work, and how can you use it to sell books?

 

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Today We Have Another Review

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Today’s stop at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer is another Four-Star review. Short, but positive.

All of the reviews on the tour have been pleasant and positive. Not too long, and not added to Amazon, but I’ll take what I can get. 🙂

As I’ve said before, reviews are very important to authors. They can raise a real buzz that most promotions will never do. Whenever I finish reading something on the Kindle, I always make sure to review it before I close the book–it will always ask you to–so I don’t forget. Occasionally I actually finish a print book, and then I try to remember to review that too. This is a great habit to foster because every author loves to know what their readers are thinking. 😉

The picture of the train above was taken in Arkansas when visiting the Bull Shoals Caverns featured in an earlier post. But here are a couple of new pictures of the cavern.

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The Tour Stop Today

Today it is an interview at My Bookish Pleasures. I really enjoy doing these interviews. I hope you like reading them too.

I’ve been wondering what to write about all day, and I drew a blank. I’ve discussed everything I thought might be interesting. What do YOU want to know more about? It could be any aspect of the Chronicles or writing in general.

I look forward to your input. Otherwise, we might not have a whole lot to talk about on this blog until the next book comes out…and that would mean I had to get back to editing it. 😉

Until I think of something else to talk about, here are a few more pictures from the trip last summer. Some of the local color in Dublin today:

 

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1875 in New York City

The Conn-Mann series is set in the 1870s in New York City. This is an important thing to remember about the books in the series.

It was a time and place that I’ve taken certain liberties with, but it was a period in time where things were different.

The Civil War had only been over for a few years. There were Confederates in the country who had served in that War. So…when I started Fred and Kevin’s book I decided to have someone impersonate one of these ex-soldiers to try and steal Aunt Emily’s house.

The original title was to be Bond & Reilly: The Case of the Counterfeit Confederate.

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In light of the current events, I feel this would be in bad taste. So, I contacted my cover designer and he has redone it for me:

Counterfeit Colonel Title Fix FOR WEB

There are still Confederates mentioned in the story. That is because of the time frame of the story. It is not meant to demean anyone or downplay the divisiveness of that time. It isn’t even an integral part of the story, but to remove it completely would be to pretend the War never happened at all…

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Today Jo Steps Up to the Plate

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The tour stop today is an interview with Jo at Pimp That Character! It’s always so much fun when she gets a chance to speak up. It isn’t the first time she’s been interviewed, but the other interviews have sadly gone the ephemeral way of the internet. I know, because I just spent several hours trying to find them…and fixing old broken links, which resulted in a ton of messages on Facebook and Twitter today. That’s what I get for trying to update…lots of spam…lol. Still, I am glad I got the updates done.

When I started to look for an image for today, I was looking for a quill and notebook. And then I had a thought. When was the fountain pen invented and by whom?

Turns out, it is quite possible that Jo, as an early adopter of the typewriter, would write with a fountain pen. If you are a beginner with fountain pens, as I am, here’s a Beginner’s Guide. And if you want to see some reviews about pens to help make your choices, my friend Rhonda Eudaly often talks about pens on her blog.  (And not just fountain pens.)

As far as a notebook goes, here are some thoughts I offered about choosing one of these in a long-ago column about writing:

I would like to discuss one of the most important tools in any writer’s repertoire—a personal notebook.

I have mentioned this tool before in passing, but I want to devote a little more space to it this month. A writer’s notebook is like a piece of his or her soul. It is more than a mere journal, though it can serve that function in part. It is also not essential that it be black, though many of mine are—they show less wear. I find that a 5″x7″ spiral is my favorite. This size fit into the pocket of my smock when I was working on a production floor, so the choice of size was made for practicality, but choosing the proper notebook is almost as important as filling it. I also prefer to have unlined pages, because occasionally I sketch a prop or costume beside the piece I am writing, but this is also a matter of personal choice. (Perhaps the best alternative is one of those wonderful books that are lined on one side of the page and unlined on the other. Then you get the best of both worlds.)

The process of choosing a notebook should be looked at as an opportunity to express yourself to yourself. Take your time and enjoy the search. Don’t just grab the first notebook you see unless it grabs you first. I usually browse the journal section in any bookstore, stationary, or paper store I enter. You never know when you will find the perfect writing companion. I already have my next book waiting for me to finish my current one.

What do you write in your book once you find it? Anything and everything. Here is a sample of the things in my current book: email addresses from friends or possible research links that I don’t want to forget; homework assignments from my writing classes; scraps of scenes I am working on at any given time; outlines of action to work out plot details; a transcript of a chat session that might make an interesting story someday; story ideas; maps of my lands; job-related notes (when it was the only paper handy); poems; personal exercises (my last volume had swatches of fabric taped into it and then descriptions of the characters who might wear them); and yes, journal entries—personal frustrations, triumphs, fears, feelings, all the things that you would tell a diary.

The important word that kept popping up in that last paragraph was “personal.” Yes, you can share your book with friends or relatives if you want, but if you never want to show any of it to another soul, YOU DON’T HAVE TO. And you can expand the idea of a personal writing notebook to more than one level. For example, I have my “writer’s notebook” which I carry everywhere…though I don’t always have time to use it…but I also have another notebook specifically for writing down dreams, some of which have later become plot outlines. I have a third notebook for writing out “dark” thoughts (that one has black paper pages, and I write on it with a gold gel pen.) One further extension is my “inspiration” board, which is a bulletin board covered with postcards, photographs, magazine pages, sketches, and notes that stir the imagination and represent characters or possible settings in my writings. It also serves to remind me of things I might want to explore further and provides a welcome distraction when that pesky writers’ block rears its ugly head.

What this rather rambling column is getting at this month is that no one should be without a notebook. Not only does it help you organize current projects, but it also makes sure that you don’t lose that precious scrap of an idea that might one day become a best seller. Most importantly, it keeps you writing, and by daily communication with your silent partner, you keep your creative juices stirring and the wheels of your imagination turning away. Choose the size and shape that best suits you, but always carry something. You never know when inspiration will strike.

 

It’s actually been a long time since I carried a notebook every day. I think I should go back to doing that. Notebooks can save your life as you write–making the difference between losing a great thought and that next big thing!

 

 

 

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