The #1 Secret to Getting Good Reviews

6a00d83452c37169e2014e8ab9b06e970dThe key to getting good reviews seems simple—write a good book. Not!

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Not even accomplishing that great feat will ensure good reviews from the reading public. We’ve all heard the old adage, “Everybody’s a critic,” and we’ve all heard it because it’s true. People are eager to give you their opinions, whether you want to hear them or not.

The primary key to getting positive opinions/reviews is to get your book to the right people…and keep the wrong people far, far away. The ‘right’ people are those who have a good chance of actually liking your book. The ‘wrong’ people are everyone else. Logical! But how do you do this?

The secret to separating these two groups lies in your advertising. Following an eye-catching cover design, the next thing a potential reader will look at is your synopsis. If you wrote an action-packed high-tech spy novel that would appeal primarily to men, don’t try to broaden your audience by pushing the minor love story subplot. You’ll be alienating the ‘right’ people and tempting the ‘wrong’ people. The men may choose to forego the book if they think it’s a mushy love story, and the women expecting a romance novel will undoubtedly be disappointed by the action-filled storyline. They will tell you so in their one-star reviews. If you’re selling a smoking hot erotic adventure, make sure you let your potential readers know what they are in for. If they purchase the book expecting a timeless romance, they are going to leave dismal reviews about your “filthy piece of trash.”

Be truthful. There is a market for every book, so don’t advertise your book to be something it’s not. If it’s a boring drama, say so. I love boring dramas and would buy it and probably give it a great review.

Craft your synopsis as carefully as you create your cover.

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Saturday Snippet – Father/Son Troubles

In celebration of the fourth book in the Culpepper Saga, “Culpepper’s Rebellion,” coming out October 31st, I’ll be reviewing re-living moments from the first three books. Some are triumphant, some are heart wrenching. If you haven’t read any of the story yet, follow along for the next few Saturdays and witness occasional tense and often loving moments between John Culpepper and various members of his family. The following snippet is from the first book in the series, “I, John Culpepper,” which is the story of John’s youth and his turbulent relationship with his father. In this snippet, John’s young niece has died and the family is meeting at the church for the funeral. John’s father, Johannes, has just arrived.

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51hHerBrPbL._UY250_December 3, 1630

John stood in the doorway of the church and watched his father climb down from his carriage. Sporadic blasts of cold wind whipped at Johannes’s thinning, gray hair and ruffled the hem of his cloak. He refused help from his footman and grunted with each movement. He was pale and wrinkled, his shoulders hunched by the weight of his sixty-five years. He leaned on his cane as he hobbled toward the church, favoring one leg over the other. When he reached the door, he looked up at John with tears in his bloodshot eyes. John stepped forward to take his father’s arm and escort him inside.

As they stepped through the stone archway into the church, Johannes grumbled, “Bloody flux.”

John nodded, not knowing if the comment required a reply. “Where’s Ann?” he asked instead.

“She’s visiting at her son’s house. I didn’t have time to go fetch her. I came straight here.”

John nodded again. He led his father to the front pew and helped him be seated. John stood in front of the pew and looked around at the family in attendance. For the first time in John’s life, he felt as if he needed to be the man in control of the family. This was an unusual sensation because his father or brother always filled the role of patriarch, but John accepted it for the time being. He returned to the door, just in time to see Thomas and Katherine enter.

Katherine was holding their eight-month-old baby Anna in her arms. John walked straight toward her, softly placed his hand on the infant’s head, and looked into Katherine’s eyes. “Katherine, I am so very sorry. Mary was such a beautiful little girl.”

Katherine looked down at Anna. Her lip quivered and tears rolled down her cheeks.

“And little Anna is just as beautiful.” John kissed the sleeping baby on the forehead.

“We had hoped for a son,” said Thomas quietly, “but we were happy to have Anna as a playmate for Mary. Sometimes plans and dreams just don’t work out.” Thomas’s voice cracked.

John understood that statement well. He looked into his brother’s face and realized he had never seen his brother so sad. If he could figure out a way to take this pain from him, he would. Katherine began to sob, and the men escorted her to the front pew.

After a long and dismal hour, the sermon finally ended and the family gathered outside in the graveyard, surrounded by stone monuments and chiseled epitaphs. Blustery snowflakes wafted through the air, twirling around bare branches of dormant oaks, as the family placed young Mary Culpepper in her tomb and solemnly left the grounds. John followed Thomas and Katherine home to Greenway Court. He left Johannes to fend for himself.

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The first three books of the Culpepper Saga are available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.

culpepper saga-001

Good Cover = Book Sales! 5 easy steps!

5-easy-steps-inGOOD COVER = BOOK SALES! 5 Easy Steps!

So, you’ve finished your awesome novel. You’ve toiled and fretted over each and every word, and your characters are now dancing through their scenes with grace and eloquence. Now what?

It’s time to take off your author hat and replace it with your business hat. You want to sell your book, and to do that, you need great packaging. You need to create an interesting cover that will stick out above the millions of other books in the marketplace. Oreos don’t only sell because they’re awesome, they sell because the package tells you you like them. Next time you’re in the store, look at Oreos vs the no-name brand. You’ll see the difference immediately. The purpose of packaging is to get your potential customer to notice your book. Then to pick it up. If your name is Stephen King, you don’t need to worry about your cover. If not, you need all the help you can get! You don’t want just another pretty cover, you want the whole package—an incredible package that will sell your book.

SO, WHERE DO YOU START?

1) Start with genre. Is your book historical fiction, medical drama, psychotic thriller? Check out the top books in your genre. Do they have a common element? Use it. You want people to be able to recognize your genre immediately.

2) What’s your demographic? 20-something urban or mature woman in the south? You need a cover that will appeal to this demographic. Even if your book is about a southern serial killer in Huntsville, Alabama, an image of a scary man wielding a knife over a dead girl is not going to appeal to a proper southern woman. Who are you trying to sell this book to?

3) Pretend you’re telling someone about your book. What are the scenes you’re relating? Those are the pictures you want to include, whether they are abstract or an actual photograph of a blonde girl in a 1950’s powder-blue dress.

4) What emotional response do you want from your customer when they’ve finished your book? Fear, tears, happiness, hopefulness? The girl in the blue dress can be any of those things if the image is manipulated correctly. Check with your cover designer for suggestions on how to change the same girl into a multitude of emotions.

5) The font. Does the book take place in Old England or 1940s art-deco New York? You want an appropriate font, and make sure it’s readable on the thumbnail-size postage stamp your customer will see on the Internet. A pretty font is not necessarily your friend.

Note: If you are not an experienced graphic designer, hire a professional!!! You’ll still need to tell him/her what you want by using the five ideas above. If this is your first book cover, you need different covers for different items. Paperback, ebook, audiobook, etc. all require different sizes and elements. You’re cover designer will know how and  where to find these requirements.

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

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okatibbee creek cover final jpeg51-lUHhsD7L._UY250_

Audiobooks = press play

TESTING 1,2,3…AUDIOBOOKS
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The first thing you need to look at when considering making an audiobook are the numbers. The Audio Publishers Association reported $800 million in audiobook sales in 2011. The number grew to $1 billion in 2012 and $1.2 billion in 2013. Yes, that’s billion, with a B. Goodereader.com said the audiobook industry was worth over $2 billion in 2014. I haven’t seen any numbers for 2015 yet, but there should be a little bit in there for you.
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Now that I have your attention, let’s create an audiobook. The process of creating an audiobook is completely painless at ACX. This post isn’t a commercial for ACX, but I’ve used them a couple times now, and they are author-friendly. ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) is the company that links authors with narrators and distributes to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
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Your first step in creating an audiobook is to create an account at ACX.com, and then you can listen to some narrators by gender, accent, and style.
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downloadHIRE A NARRATOR
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Once you’re ready to go, you need to hire a narrator. You can narrate yourself, but it you don’t have recording equipment and lots of practice in front of a mic or lots of money to spend in a recording studio, it is a million times easier and faster to hire a professional.
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To find the perfect narrator, just upload a section of your book to ACX and invite auditions. Of course, you can email the actors you listened to when you first signed on. Make sure your uploaded section contains some dialog and maybe some drama in it. You want to hear the range of the narrator. Be ready to move forward quickly because you’ll get auditions almost immediately. Send each narrator a note of thanks for taking the time to audition your sample – whether you hire them or not. It takes a lot of time to record, master, and upload your sample, and they’re doing it for FREE.
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Once you choose a narrator, you then offer them a deal.
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6a00d8341bf73153ef0105359fa532970c-800wi“SO, HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST ME?”
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Narrators charge anywhere from $100 to $300 per finished hour. This is called a “pay-for-production” deal. Example: If you’re book is 50k words, that’s about 6 hours finished, so the finished cost will be between $600 and $1800. Some narrators opt to do a 50/50 “royalty-share” instead. That’s 50% of your royalties for 10 years with no money up front.
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Take a moment and do the math so you know how many audiobooks you need to sell to break even. ACX sets your price by the length, and the above 6-hour book example would sell for roughly $19.95. The longer the book, the higher the selling price. The shorter, the lower. Read further to find out your share. The range of Audible pricing is 1-3 hours $7-10, 3-5 hours $10-20, 5-10 hours $15-25, 10-20 hours $20-30. Here’s another fun fact: If your book is purchased by a new Audible member as their first download, you get a $50 bounty. That’s fun!
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distributionDISTRIBUTION
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ACX will offer you two distribution options. 1) 40% royalties for an exclusive distribution deal. This is a seven-year contract and you are not allowed to sell the audiobooks yourself to anyone at any time through any avenue in any format (digital, CD, audio tape) during that time. OR 2) 25% royalties for an non-exclusive deal, and you can sell them anywhere you want. ACX distributes to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, so I don’t know where else you’d want to sell them, unless you want to have them pressed and sell them out of your trunk. But keep in mind, according to the Audio Publishers Association, audiobooks that were downloaded through a website instead of bought on CD in 2009 were 29%, 36% in 2010, and 46% in 2011, and growing, so there may not be any good reason to press your audiobook.
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If your narrator costs $250 per finished hour and your book is 6 hours long, it will cost you $1500 for a pay-for-production deal. If you go with exclusive distribution and are making 40% of the $19.95 sale price, you would need to sell a couple hundred copies to break even. One note here: Audible members which are a huge chunk of your sales pay about half price, so your royalty income and break even number would need to be adjusted for those sales. You’d need to sell about 400 copies to only Audible members to break even. A majority of buyers on Audible are members.
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If you choose the “royalty share” option with your narrator, you would NOT need to pay the $1500 up front, but you would split the royalties 50/50 and only make $4 per copy sold for the next 10 years, and $2 for an Audible member sale.
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So, figure out how long your book will be (roughly 8500 words per finished hour) and how many copies you need to sell before you step up to the plate and ask for auditions and negotiate fees.
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Once you decide on your narrator, make a price/payment deal with them, and choose your ACX distribution option, you’ll need to upload your entire book and give the narrator some deadlines. There will be two deadlines: one for your narrator to upload the first 15 minutes for you to approve and one for the whole project to be completed. If your narrator isn’t too busy, they can have the first 15 minutes to you within a few days and the book completed within a month. They will upload each chapter to ACX as it is recorded, so you can listen to each chapter as it is uploaded and send a message to correct anything you’d like corrected. Be specific about the pronunciation of any strange names or titles up front in the process to avoid later corrections. My book Okatibbee Creek is pronounced Oh-kuh-TIB-bee. That makes it easier.
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When the recording is finished and all chapters are uploaded, you’ll need to approve the recording. Your narrator will then send you a bill if you opted for the pay-for-production deal. If you opted for the royalty-share deal, this step will be omitted. Once you pay your narrator, he/she will let ACX know your audiobook is approved for sale.
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ACX will then take 2-3 weeks to get your audiobook live on the sites. So, the whole process should take about eight weeks. If you opt for a pay-for-production deal, save your pennies first. Do not make the narrator wait to get paid.
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Note
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The size of your cover needs to be adjusted for an audiobook to a square CD shape. You cannot use your ebook cover. Here’s the original ebook cover for Okatibbee Creek and the resized audiobook cover. The needed dimensions can be found on the ACX website.
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okatibbee creek cover front JPEG
okatibbee audio
Note 2
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I don’t know if they always do it, but Audible sent me 25 free download codes to give away. For the above example 6-hour book, that’s $500 worth of freebies, so while you’re waiting for your project to be completed, think of some creative ways to market and give those copies away. Some authors swear by audiobook sales. Give it a shot!
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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

4 Ways to Create a Catchy Blog Title

catchy titles-resized-600The first thing that catches someone’s eye in the blogosphere is a snappy title. Writing the title for your blog shouldn’t be an exercise in wittiness. It should tell people what they will find if they click.

4 Ways to Create a Catchy Blog Title

  • Your title should tell the reader exactly what to expect. What did you expect when you opened this blog? Yep, 4 ways to create a catchy blog title. The name says it all. A bad example of a title is “Fiction 101.” Yuck, boring, not enough information. A good title is “3 Ways to Make your Fiction Come to Life.” If you’re a fiction writer, wouldn’t you like to read that blog? Do you know why? Because it offers a service, an insight, some expertise.
  • How about numbers? Try this: “8 Haunted Places in Detroit” or “5 Ways to Get Your Husband off the Couch.” People like numbers!
  • Rock the adjectives! “Catchy Blog Titles” is better than “Blog Titles.” Try adjectives people are attracted to: Free, Fun, Incredible, Effortless, Secret.
  • Try something outlandish. I like mixing opposites or writing something one would never, ever actually do. “Fuzzy Bunnies are Smug,” “The Graceful Klutz,” “Shampoo your Lion’s Mane in 20 Minutes Without Getting Bitten.”

Recapping:

1. Say exactly what your blog is about.

2. Try a number.

3. Add an adjective.

4. Try something crazy.

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Creating a Live Twitter Event

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Ever consider doing a live Twitter chat? It’s a great way for your fans to connect with you. If you don’t yet have fans, it’s a great way to get some!

If you have a large following, you can probably do a one-hour Twitter chat all by yourself. Most of us are not so lucky and need to enlist the help of our author friends.

SETTING IT UP

Ask four or five author friends to join you.

Choose a day that is not a holiday or a sporting event day.

Choose an hour to do the chat. When promoting, always include the time zone (example: 4-5pm Eastern).

Choose an appropriate hashtag for the event. Hint: If including the live chat with a book tour, perhaps use the name of your book. If you’re considering doing a monthly or weekly chat, use something that you’ll be chatting about. If your monthly topic is about you and your friends who are all indie authors, maybe something like #indieswrite would work. Make it short and specifically on topic.

Choose a name for your chat. “Indies Go Global” “You Too Can Write” “Thrillers for Chickens” “Cute Boys who Write” Your choice!

Now, go to Tweetchat.com and register your time, day, name, and hashtag. It sometimes takes them two weeks to register your chat and put it on their calendar, so plan in advance. If you’re doing a recurring chat, they will put that on the calendar also.

Tweetchat.com is a live Twitter feed that only shows the hashtag you are following at that moment. You won’t have to wade through a million posts to follow the conversation. Tweetchat also automatically includes your hashtag in your comments, so you don’t have to remember to do so with each comment.

images (2)PUTTING IT TOGETHER

Keep in mind, Twitter only allows 140-character comments, so you should plan your comments in advance.

Pre-write a welcome to your guests in Word, so you can simply copy and paste.

Offer your author friends a chance to introduce themselves, their genres, their titles. Even if the chat is about your book, guests still like to see that you have a lot of cool author friends. Ask each other questions about books or writing process. You can also plan these in advance.

At the end of the chat, offer your author friends a chance to post where guests can find more information about them.

The most important part is: Plan specific questions for you and your author friends. Email them to your author friends and give them ample time to create 140-character answers. After everyone answers a question at the chat, discuss the topic among yourselves. Your guests will start chiming in. Leave your answers open-ended. “Don’t you think a hatchet is scarier than an ax?”

Include your guests in the conversation.

Don’t be afraid to re-tweet comments. This will bring in other guests from Twitter who didn’t know the event was happening. If everyone tweets enough, you may even “trend” on the front page of Twitter and attract an even larger audience. Cool!

If none of your guests enter the conversation, that’s okay. They’re still watching, so keep it lively for them.

twitbirdPROMOTING

Promote the event on Twitter, your blog, your website, Facebook, everywhere.

Create an event on Facebook and invite all your friends. (On the left side of your Facebook newsfeed is a button that says “Create Event.” Use it. On the top of the pop-up box, you can change the event from Private to Public. )

Tell people the day, time (with time zone), hashtag, and topic. Invite them to join you on Tweetchat.com. Create a link. Don’t make them go looking for it. Explain that Tweetchat is a live Twitter feed that only includes the hashtag you’re currently following.

If you’re using the chat as part of a book tour, do the chat toward the end of the tour. That gives you plenty of time to promote that hashtag at every stop!

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

What Type of Editing do I Need?

Types of Editing

pencil-1979pxWhat Type of Editing Do I Need?

If you’re an author, you’ve undoubtedly heard someone along the way say something about getting an editor. You may have a sneaking suspicion that your work could probably use a little polishing. Are there paragraphs that just don’t feel right? Parts of the story line that feel rushed or too slow? Did you get a C in high-school English? Yes, you need an editor. Depending on your writing experience, you can use one or all four edits on your book, and those edits can be done by one person or four different people. Stephen King has an editor, you should too.

So, what are the different kinds of editing available and which do you need? Here’s a breakdown of editor services.

Developmental Editing

When you are stuck anywhere in a story, whether you are at the initial stages of creating an outline, or you are at the end of writing the rough draft, but the pieces aren’t lining up, you need a developmental edit. A developmental editor will review the whole story for you and tell you where there are holes in your plot, where your characters aren’t developed, where you’ve left story lines dangling with no conclusions. They will make suggestions on where and how to fix your story. In short, a developmental editor will help you develop your story.

Substantive Editing

When you are finished with your manuscript, you may consider a substantive edit. An editor will help you put your story into its final form. They may change points of view, look for inconsistencies in your character’s behavior, rearrange your paragraphs, and rework your dialog. You want your story and your characters to be believable. This is the outcome of a good substantive edit.

Copyediting

Once you’ve completed your “final” manuscript, you want to have an editor do a copyedit. A copy editor will read each sentence and fix grammar, punctuation, spelling, and voice. If you give them enough latitude, they will rework tangled sentences and paragraphs. They will also check your captions and footnotes for accuracy against your text. You may get the work back with ideas to improve or delete parts of your work. Your book should be close to finished after this step.

Proofreading

Proofreading is the final step in editing. When you a sure your work is finished, a proofreader will go over your manuscript one sentence, one word, one comma at a time and make sure it is all correct. If you have photos or charts, they will also review those. They will correct any errors overlooked in the copyedit. They will also check all elements of design, including headers, font styles, and page numbers.

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

Rocking Your “About” Page

vintage-hand-about-meSo, you’ve started a blog. Good for you!

What did you write on your “About” page? A lot of people write a simple bio, then walk away and never touch it again.

Yikes! Don’t do that!

Your “About” page is the most important post on your blog.

It tells a reader who you are and what you’re about, and most of all, WHY THEY SHOULD READ YOUR BLOG. Most people will check out your “About” page before they get two or three blogs into your site, because your “About” page lets them know instantly if they’d like to find out more about you and if they’d like to spend more time on your blog. Think of it as an introduction to a new friend at a party. Do you simply say “Hi” and walk away? No, of course not. You chit chat. You let your new friend know a bit about yourself. In your introductory conversation, they will find out if you have anything in common, if you’re an expert on a topic they find interesting, and if you will grow to be friends. This is the goal of your “About” page.

3 ways to make a better “About” page!

  • Add a photo! Nothing connects people more than being able to put a face to a name.
  • Write your “About” page as if you’re writing a blog post. Make it interesting, funny, or serious, however you normally write on your blog. If there’s one thing that bores everyone to death, it’s “I was born in Little Rock and I have two dogs.” Snoozer! That does not tell us why we should read your blog and does not entice us to come back again later.
  • Update your “About” page periodically. If you have a new picture taken, put it on there. If you have recently moved to Uganda, tell us all the wonderful things you’re going to post about Uganda. Got a new giraffe? We want to know!

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

This will be my final “It’s Monday! What are you reading?” post. I’ve decided to dedicate my time to some new topics. I’m adding “Tombstone Tuesdays” and “Writer’s Corner” on Wednesdays. Please stop by on those days if the topics interest you. I’ll still be doing “52 Ancestors” on Thursdays and “Saturday Snippets” for the rest of 2015.

2a2It’s Monday! What are you reading?

This is a bit different than the books I usually post, but this week I read:

50 Ways to Build your Email Marketing List” by Pam Neely

If you run a business, whether a brick-and-mortar location or online, there is tons of information in this book to help you grow your email marketing list. If you don’t yet have an email marketing list, this is the place to start.

Being an indie author, I have a small list of subscribers who I email quarterly about my life, my books, and my job as an author. I admit I haven’t put that much energy into it, but others swear by email lists, so I thought I’d ramp mine up a bit.

51GjRkvew2L._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_This book contains detailed information on adding your sign-up prompt to every page of your website, every newsletter, every email. It also explains how to add a custom tab to your Facebook page and how to use prompts on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, and SlideShare, placing a Call to Action on all of your online sites. Next, it offers tips on engaging customers in offline marketing including prompts for postcards, speaking engagements, phone, and letting your employees do the work for you.

The one thing that really stuck out to me was creating a QR code that you can use on all of your printed material. It’s got my creative juices flowing about all the places I can put a QR code. I think it’s time to create some new business cards…gotta run.

If you find this topic up your alley, you can pick up Ms. Neely’s book at Amazon HERE.

On my end of the marketing/email spectrum, I always give away literary freebies in my quarterly newsletter. The next one is coming out in September. You can win! Sign up at http://eepurl.com/GHJ7D.

 

Starting an Author Blog

i-blog-therefore-i-am (cartoon by brajeshwar.com)

So, you’ve spent months or even years writing and perfecting your book and you’ve put it out there for all the world to see. Now the real work begins! You need to find your audience.

One part of finding an audience, what we love to call “building a platform,” is becoming an expert in your field and attracting readers. One way you do that is to create a blog to support your work.

Do you need a blog? Yes. When should you begin? Yesterday.

REASONS TO HAVE A BLOG

  • You’ll network with 1) other writers, 2) other people interested in your topic, 3) potential book buyers, 4) and believe it or not, you may actually cultivate some great friendships. I’ve never met a blogger who didn’t have a few very dear friends they met while blogging.
  • You can link your blog to your Twitter and Facebook to instantly notify people when you’ve posted a blog. That makes one less Tweet and one less Facebook post you have to make!
  • If you’re a non-fiction writer, you can’t afford to NOT have a blog. You have to establish your credibility for anyone to take you seriously and buy your book. For fiction authors, you need to find readers interested in your topic.

WHERE SHOULD YOU BLOG?

You can set up a free blog account here at WordPress.com or at Blogger.com. Typically, WordPress is used by bloggers in America and Blogger is used by the Brits, but there are no rules, so choose the one you like best. There is also WordPress.org which has more options available for your page, but requires you to own your own domain name (more on that below). If you plan on growing ridiculously big, WordPress.org may be a better choice for you. Here’s a free step-by-step tutorial at About.com on how to set up a WordPress.com blog.

imagesNOW, STRUT YOUR STUFF!

1. Decide on your content. You can always go left and post about the neighbor’s dog, but you need to mainly focus on one subject. Many writers blog about writing, and those sites are a dime-a-dozen, so pick something you’re passionate about. History? Spaceships? Hot Romances? Whatever it is, you’ll attract many people who are also passionate about it too. And, I HAVE seen blogs written by dogs – quite entertaining posts over at Wiley’s Wisdom.

2. Choose a name. Hmmm. You’ll have to give this one some thought. “John Doe Author”? Sure, that’ll work, but you may be able to come up with something better if you give it some thought. You can use the free name provided by the blog site, such as JohnDoe.wordpress.com or you can purchase a domain name such as JohnDoe.com. Domain names will cost you a yearly fee and often look like websites, but if you have both a website AND a blog, you can double your audience, then again, you must maintain both. Websites tend to be more static, whereas blogs change almost daily.

3. Now, the most important thing about blogging is to post blogs on a regular schedule, so plan your blogging schedule right now. Once per week is okay to start, but you’ll eventually want to increase your postings. One blog per day is great! You can try different topics on different days like Manic Monday, Terrific Tuesday, Sunday Snippets. Personally, I change my schedule as I feel the need. I currently do books I’m reading on Mondays, ancestors on Thursdays, and snippets and characters from my books on Saturdays, but in August, I’m not doing books anymore, I’m concentrating on these “Wednesday Writer’s Corner” blogs. You can always write blogs ahead of time and save them as drafts, then you can post them at a later date. You’ll see that option (on wordpress) on the writing page. You can either “publish now” or “schedule for later.”

4. To make your blog look more inviting, limit your posts to less than 1000 words. 500-700 is perfect. Add a few photos, make your headings in bold, and leave lots of white space. Most people scan, not read, while on the Internet, so give them what they want. Let them scan the photos, the bold headings, and decide if they want to stay and read the post.

5. Now go make friends. Search the site for topics you’re interested in and also ones you’re blogging about. Like posts, follow other bloggers. Bloggers are a friendly bunch and will most often follow you back. Search for a monthly blog challenge and try it. Other people doing the same challenge will drop by and often like your page – another good way to make friends.

If you create a blog here on WordPress, let me know and I’ll be happy to follow you! 🙂

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.