Sunday, January 29, 2012

How do people find books?

One thing that baffles me is how people find my books. If I had the answer, it would make marketing a whole lot easier. 

If had a big name like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, I could understand it. An appearance on Dr. Phil with his endorsement would be a sure way to the top of the best seller list. A multi-million dollar media blitz would bring in the readers. But I don’t have any of those things working for me.

 Listing a book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble creates a needle in a haystack. One way to get noticed is keywords.  Someone searches Tween Mystery and PENELOPE AND THE BIRTHDAY CURSE pops up. But if that were the case I’d have sold right off the bat. Instead my sales took off sluggishly. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the dam broke.  My sales for December exceeded what I had sold for the rest of the year, and I didn’t run any 99 cent specials during that time.

I attribute part of the sales boom to the holiday. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I’ve found that kids don’t buy books, parents do. My books are children books and they were given as gifts. But now after the holiday season is over, sales still trickle in.

Going into the new year and preparing to publish a new book, I wonder how to get the most bang for my buck. Blog tour? Social media blitz? More giveaways?  Rubbing my lucky rabbits foot (which wasn’t very lucky for the poor bunny)? I’ve been watching some writers who have put out video trailers, but I think that creates the same dilemma, another need in a haystack somewhere else.

I would love to know: how do people find books?

Ron D. Voigts is the author of Penelope And The Birthday Curse and Penelope And The Ghost’s Treasure, both available at Amazon.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Almost wasn't a Penelope and The Movie Star

After publishing my first Penelope Mystery last year, I had an ah-hah moment. It took a bit of discovery to get there and knocked my pride down a peg. After having Penelope And The Birthday Curse represented by a literary agent for a few years and beta readers who raved about the book, I figured the book a shoo-in. Move over J.K. Rowling, here comes Ron D. Voigts. It didn’t work out quite like that.

The first let down came when I realized in the first few months I could attribute almost all my sales to friends and family. I started looking for the stranger factor when a book sold, someone I didn’t know who bought it.

The next surprise was some indie bookstores refused to sell the book. One honest seller told me that he only sold YA and MG books from four authors. The rest gathered dust.

Another revelation came in two book signings where I was positioned in the MG section of the bookstore.  No kids came in to buy books! Not my books, not the bookstore’s books. Adults bought them. My sales were to aunts and parents and grandparents.

By this time I had the second book out. Penelope And The Ghost’s Treasure. I vowed it would be the last one. But I still had stories in my head.  A friend pushed me the write the third book. I started penning it and did a short story too. Penelope And The Christmas Spirit.

December became the turning point. I believe those parents and grandparents bought Christmas presents. My sales bloomed. For 2011, over half my sales came in December.  For me it became a Merry Christmas.

In March the third novel PENELOPE AND THE MOVIE STAR will come out. While filming a movie in the old historic hotel that now houses Tiffin Prep School, the director is murdered and Penelope is the only witness. She tells that she had her eyes closed at the time, but everyone thinks she may remember something. The book is high on adventure and antics with twists and surprises along the way.
Check out Penelope’s Blog for a sample.

The first two books,  Penelope And The Birthday Curse and Penelope And The Ghost’s Treasure, are available at Amazon!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Twitter -- My Rules, My Way

Oh, my! Who do I follow back?  What do I do if they unfollow me?  Who should I follow?  Okay. Here are my rules.

1. Cutesy names and pictures of pretty women do not get a follow back, unless they have a bio, recent tweets and say something of value in those tweets. I have no clue why, but every week I get a follow by some knock babe with a name and that is all. Not sure what's the angle.

2. If I can't read the language, I do not follow back. Why should I? How in the heck would I know what they're saying?

3. I prefer a picture of someone. Not a part of the body. Not a pet. Not some abstract scene. The goal is to follow a person.

4. Having something in common is always nice.

5. Unfollow me and I'll unfollow back. Guaranteed.

6. If the follower/following count is low, I do not initiate the follow. Some people just want to be left alone. But I will follow back. Hey, we all started sometime.

7. If the follower ratio is a lot larger than the following, I hesitate. Either this person doesn't understand the concept of a social network, thinks they are too important or is important. On the latter I look for the check mark in a blue circle.

8. I hesistate when the followers and followings are in the tens of thousands. Gets me to thinking this is a collector.

9. Have any of the following in the bio or tweet and I do not follow back. Profanity. Perversion. Sexual innuendos.

10. People with follower and following ratios that are close or following a tad bigger are okay. These are people looking for twitter buddies.

Ron D. Voigts is the author of Penelope And The Birthday Curse and Penelope And The Ghost’s Treasure, both available at Amazon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lessons Learned in Self-Publishing, part 14…The end (?)

My goal was to tell about my experience getting three ebooks and two paperbacks published. I took this journey, hoping to help other authors looking to self-publish or struggling along the way.  So many things did not get in, but hopefully I enough is out there to clear away some of the fog. And from time to time, I will come back with a new observation or something useful.

I wanted to say thanks to the guest blogger who shared the same vision.  I know they are excited like me to see more authors self-publishing and be successful. Here they are in order of appearance with some of their books. Click a link and take a look. They have some great stories to tell.

Rick Bylina

Tony McFadden

Joleene Naylor

Thanks again, guys!

Ron D. Voigts is the author of Penelope and The Birthday Curse and Penelope and The Ghost’s Treasure, both available at Amazon.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lessons Learned in Self-Publishing, Part 13...The dreaded press release

Someone asked me about writing press releases. As most writers hate writing synopsis, the press release comes in a close second. Following is press releases that I used for a book signing last October and resulted in a newspaper article in the Cumberland Times-News.  Press release is in blue.

Contact person for press release. This will probably be you, but could be your agent or publicist. Include e-mail and phone numbers. 

Ron D. Voigts
 (xxx) xxx-xxxx

Next comes the headline. Keep it brief.

Author Ron D. Voigts book signing at The Book Center, Cumberland, MD

Location, date and elaborate the purpose of the press release.

LaVale, MD, October 10, 2011 – Author Ron D. Voigts will be at The Book Center, 15 North Centre Street, Cumberland, MD on Saturday October 22 from 11 AM to 1 PM, signing copies of his two tween mysteries.

More paragraphs. Add information. Note: I used 13th and not thirteenth.

The first book, PENELOPE AND THE BIRTHDAY CURSE, is set outside the town limits of Dillwood, in a strange old house called the Manor. Friends and family arrive for Penelope’s 13th birthday and are soon stranded by a freak snow storm.  The next morning a guest is found dead.  In the spirit of Agatha Christie, Penelope sleuths and collects clues with the help of friends to solve this who-done-it.
In second book of the series, PENELOPE AND THE GHOST’S TREASURE, her parents send her off to a private school, housed in a made-over hotel, with lots of history and secrets. Penelope's not in class ten minutes when a teacher drops dead in front of her. There are plenty of suspects, a ghost and talk of hidden treasure. With the help of her offbeat classmates, Penelope must solve the mystery and find the ghost’s treasure.

The Penelope Mystery books are also available in e-book format at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple’s iBookstore and Smashwords.

Putting in a bio is not a bad touch. Helps people to identify with the author.

About Author
Ron D. Voigts has the pleasure of calling two places home. He spends weekends and vacations in Raleigh, NC, where he and his wife have a townhouse just off the Neuse River. He also has a residence in LaVale MD where he does most of his writing. Currently he is in the midst of writing the third book in the series, PENELOPE AND THE MOVIE STAR. When not writing, he works puzzles, eats ice cream and enjoys dinners out with his wife Lois.

Keep the writing style close to how you’d expect to read it in the newspaper. Most likely the actual article in the newspaper will read very close to how the press release reads. The body of the article in the Cumberland Times-News was verbatim from what I wrote.  Only the headline changed. 

Keep your writing top down.If space becomes an issue, they will start lopping form the bottom and work their way up the press relase. Make sure the important stuff is near the top,

Another thought for a press release is to have an author picture ready and perhaps one of the book cover.  Pictures sell. Just keep in mind that most likely they’ll be in black and white. So pick a cover picture with good contrast. I used Penelope andThe Ghost's Treasure cover because of the white ghost against a dark background.

There you have it! My formula for the press release.

Ron D. Voigts is the author of PENELOPE AND THE BIRTHDAY CURSE and PENELOPE AND THE GHOST’S TREASURE, both available at Amazon.