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Time for another post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

This month’s question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

Okay, I’m seriously surprised Big Brother hasn’t come knocking on my door for all my weird internet searches. My 18 Things series include subjects such as the Underworld, spirit guides, angels, demons, demon possession, mind reading, portals and traveling across different dimensions, and lots of odd spiritual rituals. And yes, I researched them all online (no personal experience with those subjects whatsoever). The coolest thing for me was the portals because I really want time traveling across dimensions to be real. That feeling probably stems from from reading all those stories while growing up & wanting to escape my situation at the time. Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter and Platform 9 ¾, the ‘Gate of Hell’ in Dante’s Inferno, a wardrobe with a secret passageway to Narnia . . .

portals

What do you think? Is portal-based time travel just something from a sci-fi movie, or something that could become a reality one day?

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Amazon Marketing 101

When I was trying to think of what to blog tonight, I realized I never posted about the marketing tips I learned from Quinn Loftis, Ella James, and Eva Pohler at the UtopYA2014 conference in June. My notes are somewhat scattered (just like their owner!), but hopefully this info will help someone!

How to hit the Top Rated Lists without much effort and minimal sales:

Do a soft launch of 48 hrs- have a team of people buy it to start ranking & post reviews but the big Facebook & Twitter party is 2 days later-also helpful to make sure the manuscript looks right if you’re self publishing. Hint: Every time you have to reload your book on Amazon, you loose rankings. Refreshing also hurts ranking- use rank obsession.com– updated more frequently than other sites- & will send you new reviews. Tip: Don’t release on weekends & Tuesdays because Tues is when big houses publish & can’t compete with that & people are busy on the weekends.

 How to use tags and categories properly:

Amazon keywords: put them in your blurb- i.e. YA Romance, YA Trilogy. Google key words to find most searched keywords. If it’s already in your author bio, pick something else because it’s already metadated. Some things like paranormal romance will have way too many books to get noticed so be more specific. “Google ad words.” Optimize website with key words, too.

The importance of pricing:

Indie prices typically do best between 99 cents & $3.99- trainings readers to take a chance on you. Indies, you can make book free on Kindle if you make it free somewhere else like B&N & then they’ll price match. Once the last book in your trilogy or series is published, it’s a good idea to make your first book free through a bookbub ad. Keep your finger on the pulse by looking at the top 100 books in your categories.

Free advertising:

The best kind of free marketing is not advertising at all but just being present on social media sites with authentic interactions.

Have Calls to Action- 90% chance of people responding. Ex: Laura Howard’s Q of the Day on Facebook.

On Facebook- don’t just post blog automatically to your page- insert image and then write 1-3 lines of text with link at the end, because FB drives more traffic to you if you post like that. Also 30 second videos rank higher than anything else. Post natively to Twitter as well- will see a difference with your blog. Don’t pay to booster posts because then FB knows they can get you to pay instead of having them booster it for you.

Google Hangout for book club discussions and school visits around the country, etc: in it’s simplest form it’s a live YouTube. Under your Google Plus account, look at the button for it. Use Twitter hashtag for questions during the hangout – it can also be embedded to watch later. Under your Google pic in the box put your Twitter name & hashtag you’re using. It’s kind of like doing the author FB party but one step up. Do a theme for the hangout: like wearing your pj’s, Star Wars, or anything fandom your fans would get excited about. You should be a fan of what your readers are fans of & interact with those hashtags on Twitter. For example, you can tweet during the favorite TV shows but remember time differences and don’t give away spoilers.

Facebook, Tumblr, & Twitter are the big social media forums right now. If you’re new to Tumblr (like me, follow me here), look at YA authors Cassandra Clare & John Green– rock stars at Tumblr!! All YA authors should be on it. Be creative and have fun! Example idea: Costume ideas for your book characters. Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest are also great sites for interacting. Just remember that social media is to congratulate, celebrate, & “Wow look at this!” Not for “Now hear this!” Stay away from religion and politics when you’re in author mode.

Love it or hate it, Amazon is the world’s largest bookstore. What do you do to market your book?

By the way, thank you for all the tweets last week while 18 Things had it’s 2-day 99 cent sale! When my publisher ran a 99 cent sale six months ago, it got down to #114 overall on all of Amazon and was #1 in 3 categories! Not quite as good this time around, but #169 overall & #1 in 2 categories isn’t too shabby (and still holding there since Thursday)! And it’s given a boost in sales to 18 Truths as well! Muchos gracias, for my early birthday present, amigos ❤

1 best seller in YA Paranormal

IWSG: Running On Empty

“Please don’t run out, please don’t run out,” I prayed silently as my old Plymouth Neon sputtered down the dark road.

I was on my way to pick up Dan from work at Blockbuster (yeah, this is back when he was my boyfriend. Holy crap–we’ve been married 15 years now!) I’d seen a movie with my girlfriends and unexpectedly had to take someone home. As usual, I was running on empty. Even though money was tight on waitressing tips from Perkins, it wasn’t that I didn’t have cash. I simply never left myself enough time to stop for gas while rushing around town. And I’d gotten cocky. I’d seen the needle just past empty and made it enough times not to be.

But not on this night. I pulled into the church parking lot off the side of the road, cursing my lack of faith. And because this was before the age of cellulars, I ran to the nearest gas station . . . about two miles away. The nice man inside let me use the phone to call Blockbuster, but it was past midnight on Friday. They’d already locked up, not answering any more calls, and Dan stood in the parking lot waiting for me, assuring his coworkers I’d arrive any minute now as they left one by one.

Old habits die hard. I sometimes do the same thing with my writing. In November, I participated in NaNo for the first time ever.

nanowrimo

And boy, did I start out running at top speed, barely slowing down enough to say more than a few words to my family. I’d get up late each morning, exhausted from my 2a.m. sprint from the night before, rush headlong into the day teaching middle school, write all evening, and repeat the cycle . . .  for ten days. Yeah, ten. Perhaps you recall this Twitter update from me:

Jamie M Ayres     ‏@jamiemayres                10 Nov

Haven’t done a #NaNoWriMo update in a while b/c I’ve been, ya know, writing, hahaha! Up to 27,960 words total. How’s everyone else doing?!

Yeah, you read that right. 27, 960 words in just 10 days? You were all thinking I was some rock star, thinking, “She’s got this, right?”

Wrong.

Want to know my final word count for the month?

30, 968

I left no time for other things, putting myself at risk of running on empty again, being stranded in the dark, far away from my husband.

So, what’s the answer? National Novel Writing Month isn’t for me. I need balance. And in the end, even though I didn’t finish the race before they took the clock down, I still count myself a winner. I still have 30,000+ words I wouldn’t have had before. That’s 30,968 words to the last novel in my trilogy, 18 Thoughts. And with 18 Truths being released next month, I’m confident I won’t have to wait a freakin’ year in-between book releases next time. Go me!

I’d love to know your thoughts! What do you do to keep your tanks full? Are you running on empty? Is it time for a fill-up? The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is the perfect pit stop!

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

 

You Don’t Want To “Evade” This Good Read!

So I literally just finished reading Evade, the sequel to Ever (one of my all-time favorite YA paranormal romance books). Of course, I had to post a review right away (because that’s how I roll!), but here is the low down on Evade, in case you haven’t heard of it yet:

EvadeFront-Cover

In this thrilling sequel, Ever Van Ruysdael’s race to beat the odds—and the clock—begins with the introduction of an integral part of her past. As secrets are revealed, and truths uncovered, she learns her imminent death is the least of her problems: Ariadne did more than just put an expiration date on her life; she marked Ever’s soul by upping its value for greedy collectors looking to buy their freedom. Condemned by the countdown on her life, and hunted by hired Seekers, Ever’s journey leads her to question everything she’s known and everyone she’s trusted, while growing closer to the one person from her past she was determined to avoid—and the one guy she never could—Toby James. With her ex-boyfriend by her side, and the countdown clock rapidly ticking away, Ever tries thwarting fate’s plans. But as her nineteenth birthday approaches, and desperate Seekers follow her every move, she may be too late. A marked soul is hard to come by . . . and even harder to escape.

My Review: When I read the first book, I read the whole thing in one sitting. I practically read Evade in one sitting as well. I planned to read it this past weekend, but time got away from me. So last night and tonight I pretty much read the entire thing. And OMG! This one is definitely way more paranormal, whereas the first one was more contemporary with a paranormal twist. Ever left us with so many questions, and I loved the way Russo filled in the blanks for us. There’s a lot of information to digest, so get your pot of coffee ready when reading this one! I know Jessa and she’s a total pantser, so I loved reading things that tied together so neatly . . . that I don’t think she had any idea about when writing the first one. As a writer, I can definitely relate to just having to struggle until the right answer presents itself.

Let me just say this, to readers and writers alike: Never underestimate the power of the holy crap moment. The twists and turns and flips may make you sick at times, but at the end of the day, that’s what sticks with us in a book. So yes, some of this book may drive you crazy at times, but it’s also what makes the story epic! So if you love paranormal, romance, and plot twists, then pick up Evade today!

P.S. To Jessa, if you’re reading this, I can honestly say I ended book 1 clearly favoring Frankie. But now, I’ve changed my mind. Please have Ever end up with Toby! I’ll send cookies 🙂 And that is all.