Tag Archives: self promotion

Ready for the work week

My last day at the office was Wednesday. I have to go back tomorrow. Admittedly, I took this time off to pay my debt as an author. This might come as a surprise to many of you readers, but it will make sense to the authors out there. I'll try to give the rest of you a glimpse into the secret club today.

I need proofreaders, critique groups, beta readers, blog hosts, and reviews to make my books a success. There isn't a kind of shop where you can go get all of that. Being self published is often a matter of supporting your hobby without going too far into the hole. The big dream is to turn a profit someday.

The truth is you can pay for many of those services, but it gets kind of expensive after a while. This is why we all tend to help each other. At a bare minimum, we are a fresh set of eyes who can spot the difference between hear and here in a manuscript. It's hard to spot these kind of things in your own work. There are also times when we know exactly what we're describing, but readers aren't getting that vision. Different eyes will raise a red flag at these points.

I take advantage of this kind of help, so it's important to provide it in turn. We don't typically share project for project. It's more like a pool of authors who will do what they can – when they can. I rarely get the same people from project to project, but in the long run – they are the same group.

Most of my time off was spent paying my authorly debts. The rest was spent on other duties, just like at the workplace. I'm proud to say I finished my last authorly project at about 1:30 today. Then I hauled off all the fruit tree branches, and declared myself done.

I feel a bit like that guy at the top of the post, but I also feel pretty darned good about it. I got to read some awesome stories, some for a review, some as a beta reader.

The good news is that my metaphorical office is clear. On my next day off I can return to my own novel. I'm kind of excited about it to tell you the truth.

I'll spend the rest of the evening catching up with most of the blogs I neglected to read. After that, it's off to bed early enough to go to my workplace all fresh and ready for work.

One of these days I'll have to take some time off for the sake of time off. It could happen, someday.

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Ah, Spring…

Ah Spring, the grass is green and we've even cut it once. The birds are singing, my fruit trees are all in bloom with honeybees visiting the blossoms. And the, what the f—?

Must be Idaho. Nice time to burn some vacation leave and enjoy Spring.

Seriously, I took some time off to work on projects. I've been fairly productive so far. I finished reading a book and posted a review. I worked on three different shticks for Lisa Burton Radio and sent all those out. I even managed to start my beta reading project. I seriously believe that if you want the benefit of beta readers, you have to provide the benefit of beta reading to others.

I'm feeling pretty comfortable with my reading at this point, but I also promised another friend an ARC read. I don't have to return to work until Tuesday, so I could get more done than I originally hoped.

Between these projects, I pecked away at my own post for the Rave Reviews Book Club party, and managed to get it scheduled too. I also got my next Story Empire post scheduled. That should buy me a bit of time.

If I get back to my own writing, The Yak Guy Project will be front and center. I want to finish that manuscript so I can park it for a few weeks. During that time, I can do my edits of The Enhanced League. Doubt the raven is waiting to tear my soul apart over that book, and he's been patient this time.

Enhanced League has a cover, and I'm waiting to finish the promotional art so I can take it on tour. That's at least a month down the road, but I'm planning ahead. I need to get it to beta readers before I can tour it around. Beta readers need time to deliver their mark-ups, and you can't rush this part.

After all that, I'll think about a cover for Yak Guy and start the process all over again.

I've been adding the occasional note to my storyboards for two novellas and my next novel. These are mostly organized chaos right now. Plenty of time to polish them up after my books are published.

I may just turn a corner and blog ahead this weekend. I'd like to have a couple of things ready for Chris Graham, I can hold them in case I get one of the books published. When the time gets closer, I can either say something about the new book, or send one of the prewritten pieces. I also have several new ideas for Story Empire that I may rough out.

Tonight, I'm kind of pooped out. If I do anything else, I'll go back to beta reading. That's highest in priority right now.

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Partial project day

Today was dedicated to finishing tasks. Some were started, some weren't, and I didn't get all the way through the list.

I need five posts for a promo I'm going to be doing. I still have two left to write, and those that exist need a little something too. Watch this space, and you may find some great deals on my books in the next couple of weeks. I blog about bulldogs, and movies, writing, and all kinds of things, but occasionally I need to mention that I have books to sell. “Hey, I have books to sell.”

The good news is that I don't return to the paycheck job until Tuesday. I have one more day to work on them.

I intended to do some reading today, but failed completely. We went to one of our favorite places last night, then I stayed up late playing video games with my son. Somehow, I forgot to plug in my iPad. No juice = no reading. I used what little juice remained to pay bills today, so I can scratch that off the list.

I dedicated my analog time to working on a critique. My crit group is on life support after several years. We're down to two members remaining, but we're meeting next week anyway. Part of the discussion will be about how to get new members. I don't know too many writers in the Boise area, but I'd really like to keep this going. I get different values from critique and beta readers. I want both.

While recharging, I found a movie. I said yesterday that Skull Island left me a little flat. Today, on cable, I watched Bridge of Spies, with Tom Hanks. This movie gave me more than I expected, and I would watch it again. I knew the story, but seeing it dramatized was well worth it. Great movie.

Tomorrow, I have to get my truck sniff tested. It's an absurd local regulation, but I have to do it. I may check my meds and try getting them refilled while I'm out. I need to write two more promo posts, and I'm going to read come hell or high water.

Next weekend brings the return of company, so no writing. I'm at a point in Yak Guy where I need to decide how much wandering around in the wilderness is acceptable. Too much will bore readers. I could work this toward the end, but it might wind up being a 70K word novel. In this modern era, maybe that is preferable. It's definitely preferable to boring readers with too much star gazing.

Talk to me here. Did you get a different vibe from Skull Island? Have you seen Bridge of Spies? Do you know any Boise area fiction authors who would like to join a critique group? Are you interested in some great book deals in the first week of April? How do you feel about novels on the short side of word count? How in the heck do you guys find time for your reading?

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Kind of Tired…

The blog party was a huge success. Thank you all for participating and making my book release into a fun event. We cracked a few of Amazon’s top 100 lists for a little while.

I’ve already gotten two reviews on The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack II. They were both five stars and mean the world to me. I love finding out which stories resonated with readers. The first Experimental Notebook was drawn along with the new release. There were several sales and some new reviews there too. That was a pleasant surprise.

There was a ton of work leading up to this event. In the past weeks, I’ve written 13 blog tour posts and delivered them to my hosts. Those will be coming out in the next two weeks. My job now is to watch for them, and participate in the comments they receive. I’ll also try to reblog them and support them on social media.

I also took up Chris Graham, the Storyreading Ape, on his offer for guest posters from September through December. It was work to fit it all in, but I delivered all of my posts prior to the deadline. Chris has a large footprint, and I felt like it would be a mistake to pass the chance up.

That’s only a small part of what I’ve been up to. There are other projects that I’m not ready to pull the veil back on just yet. It’s been a lot of work, and I’m looking forward to dialing it back for a few days. I can’t afford to tone it down for any longer.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be idle. I have a collection of Lisa Burton Radio posts in various stages to work on. I also went to critique group last night, and have my submission to spruce up.

I’m thinking about some advertising options over the next few months. Timing is the big thing to consider. A few more reviews might be helpful before I run an Amazon campaign for the second Notebook. Several of my novels have a Halloween flavor to them. I may run an Amazon giveaway, or a free day for those. Watch this space.

Finishing my tasks this weekend shouldn’t be that tough. I may try to weave in some actual writing somewhere. It’s a three day weekend in the USA, so there might be time.

Lisa is taking off as part of this blog tour. She’s talking with several hosts and dropping off her posters. I should probably help her clean up the writing cabin after the big party.

Lisa Burton

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I need to start a list

I posted recently about having my cool new cover art, and the pending release of my book of short stories. There is a ton of work to do before this comes out.

I have one piece of Lisa Burton art on order to promote this story, and when it arrives I'll order one more.

The betas are making good progress and I'm getting reports to work on. I've decided to farm out the formatting, and with a late August release, there should be plenty of time for this.

Meanwhile, I need to start writing ideas on my legal pad. I have promotional plans for more than just this book, and maybe they can tie together somehow. It probably won't all come to me until I have it all written out.

I would like to take this book on tour, and keep it with friends and volunteers. It's going to be a 99¢ special, and spending a ton of money on it isn't realistic. I can custom write things, and make Lisa Burton available to fly around with her posters and talk about the book. More on this when I'm closer to publication.

The Rave Reviews Book Club can help me on some fronts. There is a WhatsApp room where we can promote free and 99¢ books that I can make use of. They are also doing the Back to School Book & Blog Block Party again. I chose two dates, and hope I get one of those days. If I do, I'll try to make that my release date. This is because last year I had hundreds of blog visitors on that date. Why not make the date something special.

I will probably work on some Halloween type promotions too. I've already talked to a group of authors who write similar stories and we may do some group promotion. There are Halloween themed stories in both Notebooks, but I also have Will O' the Wisp and The Playground that are suitable too. I'll have to make those decisions later on. Part of this promotional push has to involve The Playground.

Beyond that, there are Kindle Countdown Deals, free days, giveaways, and Amazon advertising to consider. I can do some of this fairly cheaply, and might be able to spread it across several books. The idea is to be everywhere for a couple of months.

If I get really lucky, maybe someone will read one of the Notebooks and take a chance on a novel.

I intend to post some more Halloween style micro-fiction in October. I call these Macabre Macaroni, and they've been pretty popular over the years. I just need to find time to write them. So far, I have one. I need about three more.

I'd really like to try BookBub at the same time, but my best chance has a limitation. Will O' the Wisp has the most positive reviews, but I published it in two versions. This is because I purchased a license to use copyright protected song lyrics, but could only get rights to North America. It's available everywhere, but the versions are slightly different.

I won't be able to do everything, but I intend to do one hell of a lot. Between September first, and October last, I want to be everywhere. It all starts with a list.

I suppose I'd better fill a fountain pen and get started. A cool pen makes it more fun.

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Looking at 2015

Many people post about New Year’s Resolutions, and WordPress will be flooded with them next weekend. I’ve always avoided that, but like to create a loose business plan. It’s hard to look ahead without looking back, so that’s what I’m doing today. This will probably not be one of my 300 word posts.

Last year about this time, I committed to getting new business cards, adding one new version of social media to my arsenal, and publishing two new novels.

I got and distributed the business cards. These were mostly left at various bulletin boards, or at the table in a restaurant somewhere. So far, I have no idea whether I’ve accomplished something or not. I know it can’t hurt, but I wish there were a way to track performance.

I signed up for Goodreads. I haven’t been overly impressed, but I’m probably not working it the way I should either. I think it’s “neat,” in that it provides another way for someone to discover my stories.

As far as the two novels go, that didn’t quite work out. I wrote two new novels, but only published Will O’ the Wisp. I learned by publishing Arson during the Summer that Summer is a bad time to release a book.

It’s a good idea to put a manuscript away for a while before editing it. I finished The Playground in May. To distract myself, I turned to short fiction. This short form stuff turned into the Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack. The plan changed when I decided to publish it.

Both Wisp and Notebook deserved some promotional effort, and The Playground took a back seat.

On a wild hair, I decided to make Lisa the robot girl into the spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories. Then I had to figure out what to do with her. I ordered some fresh blog art, and it was very well received. She got asked occasionally to make a guest appearance on various blogs, and these were always fun, because I had to write them in character.

When it came time to go on blog tours, I added Lisa to the mix when I pre-wrote my tour posts. Then I got the crazy idea of making posters about the books, featuring Lisa.

The little push I organized for Notebook was very well received, and the posters the hosts put up were quite popular. The paid promotions for Wisp were also popular, but I didn’t have a ton of extras made up.

I’ve been holding back posters for The Playground, featuring Lisa, for months. I’ll try to publish it sometime in late Winter of 2016.

I also had Sean make up some paper dolls of Lisa, simply because it’s hard for an ebook only author to hand out swag. The post announcing the paper dolls, and the page where they permanently reside were two of my most popular posts for 2015.

My intention was always to make this blog into ground zero for my self publishing efforts. That remains my intent. If you want to reach me, this is the best way unless I’ve given you my email address.

My growth rate for Entertaining Stories has always been slow, despite posting about five times per week. I simply accept it for what it is, and keep forging ahead. I seem to attract the kind of people who interact, and support my projects when I need them to, and I’m eternally grateful for that.

Part of the job involves supporting others when they need it. I’ve made my blog available for others, and some of those posts were very popular this year. Mae Clair recently pushed into my top ten posts of all time, so my readers appreciate meeting guests.

I’ve learned a bit about being a good host, and being a good guest. Being a good guest involves delivering what the host asks for. Many of my guest spots were custom written based upon the host’s request. Some of them were by Lisa, two were by Lorelei the Muse, and one asked me to bring the raven of doubt along. Aside from those character posts, I also appeared on various blog as myself this year.

Being a good guest also involves surfing back through the host site and participating in the comments. When someone responds directly to the host, it’s still okay to hit the like button. Many times they leave a comment for me, and I try to respond to every one of them. My habit is to return for three consecutive days.

Serving as a host is also important. A popular guest can drive blog traffic the other direction, and I gained followers by hosting others. It is expected for a host to write an intro, and even a final word to go along with the guest spot. If you’ve read and enjoyed someone’s book, it’s nice to say so before handing it over to the guest. It’s also important to set the site up to allow visitors to comment.

I appeared on two sites this year where I had to enter my email address, then manipulate a Captcha before I could answer a comment. I was lucky to even get the comment if that’s what the visitor had to go through.

I stepped up my game when it comes to re-blogging information my readers might like. One of the things I do is try to re-blog the source material. I’ve tried to read something that turned out to be a re-blog, then discover it links to another blogger who re-blogged the content. People aren’t going to go through all of that to read the source material. Re-blog maybe, re-re-blog never.

I try to keep Entertaining Stories looking fresh. I’m really going to miss the frozen hand, and the electronic snow falling across it looked great. I’m on the lookout for some good wallpaper for next month.

I didn’t even know what a “street team” was the first time I tried one. I’m a big believer in the power of a street team now. I’ll put out a call for The Playground soon, and try to get a team assembled for its release. It worked quite well for Will O’ the Wisp, and Experimental Notebook.

Some of the popular things (beyond Lisa the robot girl) were my party stop for the Rave Reviews Book Club, Macabre Macaroni, and The Idea Mill posts. It seems like a good idea to keep doing some of that in 2016.

My membership in the Rave Reviews Book Club continues to provide dividends. I became member of the week this fall, and got invited to appear on Blog Talk Radio. My Experimental Notebook was a President’s Pick.They support my efforts on Twitter, and that really helps too.

2015 turned out to be a good year. My sales increased, I made new friends, and I expanded my footprint. I plan on 2016 being even better, but that is a different post.

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Polling the audience

I have a couple of things I've been stewing about lately, and maybe you can help me out. I know some of you have dealt with these issues, and I'm wondering how your decisions worked out.

First lets talk about themes. I've used the wonderful Pilcrow theme since the day I started blogging. It does a couple of things I really like. I change my background monthly. I get a lot of comments about the wallpaper, and want to keep doing this. I like the continuity of my mother's antique inkwell too. Finally, this theme allows for a decent sidebar.

My sidebar data is important, but also causing the problem. I like the top posts and pages, along with the categories. Readers can sample what was popular here, or play in a category that filters the content down to what they enjoy. I like the link to free readers, and the RSS data. This brings me to the linked book covers.

The covers and links are the reason this blog exists in the first place. I get daily action out of them. Today it all works, but I want to put two new titles out by the end of the year. Some of you have another page to promote your wares. I'd like to know how this works for you. I will always have some covers in my sidebar, but I can't have all of them. Should I move some of them over to a different page? Is this like a death sentence for the older works?

I scouted out a new theme that has a slider. It also had all the other options I wanted like changing backgrounds. The slider is like a bar that includes links. My covers could be links to the purchase sites. Just about the time I decided to make the plunge, WordPress stopped using this theme. I don't find themes to be really intuitive to set up. Other themes have a slider, but the instructions to set them up are limited and confusing. This is a WordPress.com site, so I need one of the free themes. Any suggestions? I'm not changing my theme if I wind up using a separate book page. I'm also terrified to lose all the work I've put into my site and would have to rebuild it from scratch if the new one disappointed me.

My next question isn't related to the first ones, but is on my mind. I'm really excited about my upcoming book of short stories and micro fiction. I have a hunch I'd like to do it again, and have a couple really fun ideas.

Last year, I ran a little event that I called Macabre Macaroni during October. I posted a micro fiction every Thursday in October that had a Halloween basis. It was a popular event, and this popularity is what led me to consider a book of shorts. So… Do I waste a few stories to do it again in 2015? This would force me to pick and choose what I hold back and what I post on the blog.

Should I just put myself out there and run Macabre Macaroni again? The risk is I would only feel comfortable adding one of these to the next book of shorts. It would probably be the first one in the book, so it could be served up as the free sample on Amazon.

Maybe I could invite others to send a Macabre Macaroni and run your stories. I could participate, but in a lesser fashion. It's not impossible to collaborate on some stories with other writers too. There is still time. What would you do? I can always continue business as usual, and hopefully I'll be pushing the book of shorts then. It was a fun event, but maybe it has to disappear during these growing pains.

This post is kind of revealing. I plan this stuff out. (Who knew?) October is months away, but it takes time to write these stories. I try hard to present an intriguing site that people enjoy. I still want people to sample my wares, and don't really want them buried on a second page. I'm at the point where I may have to put the newer works on top, and let enthusiastic folks find the older stories.

Growing pains were inevitable at some point. I'm at that point, and I'll bet some of you know an answer or two. I appreciate you guys, and really would like some input.

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