Friday, April 27, 2012

The Awakening Society is FREE Today and Tomorrow Only!!!!

My book The Awakening Society is FREE today and tomorrow only! And it's the last time it will be free.
This is a unique book, because reader participation determines the direction of Book 2. At the end of the Amazon Select contract, I will tally up votes on the poll on the front page of my website, and Book 2 will be released. Thank you so much for taking part in this! I'm actually very excited, because the responses I've been receiving have not been what I expected.

Tonya Hughes is bittersweet about her last appointment for the Awakening Society. For twenty years she’s done her part to shape the young men of Savannah into lovers any Southern woman would want. But her time has come to an end. Unable to continue the line, she plans to ‘retire’ from the society, after one last Awakening.

To Harrison Walker, the appointment with the statuesque brunette is everything he could ever hope for. A hot woman is going to instruct him in the art of making love, and she promises to teach him anything he wants. But when his emotions get involved, will he be able to walk away the next day? And will she be able to let him?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Crouch and Konrath Comedy Duo

JA Konrath (left) and Blake Crouch (right)
Far and away the best demonstration we went to was by Blake Crouch and JA Konrath, self-publishing phenoms. They were the funniest, had the most common sense advice and the most data to back up their claims. Robyn, the lady I drove up with, is not yet published and wants to go the tradition, Big 6 route. But even Robyn admitted it was the best class she went to all week.

 According to Konrath, he knew self-pubbing was going to be the thing to do, and he badgered Crouch for months before Crouch finally decided to put out 1 book. Run made 12k the first month it was out. Konrath asked him how much he'd made this year already. As of 4-12-12 Crouch admitted he had made 150k for the year.

Konrath has also made incredible money in the time he has been self-publishing, and says you need the perfect cover, perfect price, a good description and finally a good book for LUCK to strike. The more books you have out there, the more chance luck will find you. But he says to always put out the best product you can as often as you can. The best promotion you can do, he says, is to put out another fantastic book.

Konrath is a natural comedian, and he had the audience laughing most of the hour they spoke, but his information was like gold. Quiet Blake Crouch was the perfect straight man to counterbalance Konrath's craziness, but I felt a little bad that he had to put up with him.

If you look closely, the design on Konrath's shirt is interconnected skulls and crossbones, which I thought was appropriate considering where he was. There was a definite anti-self-pub flavor to the air at RT this year, which was disappointing. I think he dealt with it in his own rebellious way. He carried his own beer to the e-book signing and the book sale later on that week, and in spite of the people that wrinkled their noses at what he did, I thought he and Blake were both FABULOUS.
                       In spite of his audacious behaviour, the man is brilliant. He spoke about apps for smart devices, such as iphones, ipads, androids, tablets. Rather than having an app for an author, why not have an app for each book created? Where readers can go into the app, read author commentary, see videos of the author talking about the creative process, listening to play lists or even interacting with readers in a forum ON THE APP.
He also talked about advertising. He said he could see, in the future, money being paid to the author by advertisers who place their ads in the author's books, perhaps between chapters. Already we deal with little ads everyday, but we would be more likely to put up with them if the book itself was free. Right? 
One of the people in the audience asked him about piracy, and Konrath laughed. It's such a miniscule threat to him that he conducted an experiment. He posted one of his books for free on one of the piracy loops, and he watched as sales for the same book soared on the legitimate sites. This led to his greatest quote of the hour:
"If you're a writer, you should be a whore with no integrity."
Meaning, use free days, and lend books, and don't worry about piracy because all it does is get your name to an even wider audience. Don't use DRM on anything.
Hire a website designer he said, and sell your own books from your own website. Then you get to keep all the profits .
When asked what the best websites were for self-pubbers, he reeled off a list. Kindleboards, his blog A Newbie's Guide to Publishing , Scott Nicholson, Rusch Report, David Gaugrahan to name a few.
In the bottom picture, he's showing us 'Autography', which is an app that the author can use to sign the cover sheet of a book for a reader. Similar to Kindlegraph, but with Autography, you actually sign the sheet with a stylus in your own handwriting. It was beautiful.                                                                                                                                       

The two of them were fantastic, and kept me laughing all day.
At the original demonstration, they had author Ann Voss Peterson sitting in the front row, and he was talking about how collaborating had worked very well for him, and it helped to have somebody take on half the load. He and Ann have collaborated on 2 books. She stood up for a second then sat back down quickly. Ann seems to be a quiet lady, totally opposite of Konrath, and I went to one of her panels later in the day. Three authors were speaking for 15 minutes each. The first author spoke, then it was Ann's turn to talk about plot. She pinkened, and it was obvious she was uncomfortable speaking in front of so many people. Then troops in Blake Crouch, Konrath and Konrath's wife. They sit in the front row and STARE at Ann. I too was in the front row, and I watched as a wave of bright red crept up her neck and into her face. I felt so bad for the poor woman. Then Konrath pulled out his cell phone and started snapping pictures. Now, he's not sitting any more than about 7 feet from the woman, so the camera is basically in her face. I have to say, though, she held her ground and made it completely through her demonstration without stumbling. As soon as her demonstration was over, the three of them stood up and trooped back out of the room.
I spoke to her at the end and told her she needed to kick his ass when she had a chance.
But it was damn funny.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chicago Recovery

                                                      RT 2012 was an absolute blast, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around all the information I gathered. I drove up with a friend early because she wanted to attend the pre-conference. Kallypso Masters flew up, and while Robyn went to the classes, we went on a tour of the city.

This is Chicago and the Sears Tower as we were driving in. It's been renamed the Willis Tower, but the locals still call it Sears, and totally didn't understand what we were asking for when we said Willis.

They added the glassed in observation decks a couple of years ago, and we had to step out onto them, just to say we did. I don't think Kally would have done it if I hadn't tugged her on.
This is Kally on the left, taking a picture to prove that she did it. My shoes are on the right, and I have to admit, it was a bit terrifying when you first stepped out. Theoretically, you know that plexiglass could hold a bus, but it's still difficult to convince your brain.

This is a view from the Sears Tower on the left. I've never been to Chicago before, so it was amazing to me how very blue the water was. It looked like the ocean. In a later tour, I travelled to the Navy Pier, which seemed even more like the ocean, with giant sail boats and jet boats available to take rides on.

I believe this was called the Linkin Park Conservatory. The bus driver was extremely difficult to understand. For one thing the speaker was too loud, and then he spoke like Captain Kirk from Star Trek. ''In architect by the name of blah, blah, blah.....built memory of....his". The gaps in his speech were very drawn out, and we realized at one point that he was using a recording as well, because he started repeating things. Anyway, it was beautiful inside, and the air was so lush you could almost taste it. Had to take this picture to the right because it appealed to the naughty writer in me. This was a sausage tree, and the sausages themselves were about a foot long.

This was a huge tower of Marilyn Monroe. You can't see it because of the head rest, but there was a gentleman underneath her taking a picture up her dress. On the right is a picture of Robyn and Deena Remiel, another Decadent author hanging out and dancing at the Ellora's Cave Party. (Once again, the best party of the week.) The three of us hung around a lot together. 

The amazing Sabrina Jeffries at the booksale on Saturday. We ran into this lady at another party a few days earlier, and she was so friendly and open, and I honestly didn't realize who she was at first. We talked about beading and our bad feet, and she was so very down to earth. I bought a couple of her books and had them signed to my mom and grandmother.

This is the incredibly funny Gennita Low. She and I sat next to each other at the e-book sale, and we laughed and giggled the entire time. She was another incredible lady who really made an impact on me.
Although these pics are mostly of the parties and the tours, I did actually attend a lot of fantastic classes. Far and away the most impactful for me was the class that JA Konrath and Blake Crouch taught. Actually, I'm going to devote a whole seperate blog to them tomorrow, because they had so much fantastic information. Plus they were the funniest for several different reasons, which I'll tell you about tomorrow.
One of the most informative classes I took was hosted by Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches), Joyce Lamb, Sara Reyes, and a few others. It hit several points differentiating websites and blogs, and I realized I have to revamp my website to make it more streamlined. They all agreed that you have to have a book list available, and preferably a press kit, neither of which I have.
Mark Coker taught a class on habits of Smashwords bestsellers. It was similar to the class I listened to at last year's RT, but I'll give you the top 10 points he mentioned.
  • Write a superfabulous book.
  • Choose a good pen name. Avoid using initials. (Well, hell. Too late now!)
  • Cover image. Make sure it looks good in a thumbnail.
  • Publish another great book.
  • Maximize your distribution. EVERY retailer.
  • Give some of your books away for free. He said that this is an underutilized practice.
  • Patience is a virtue.
  • Trust your readers and partners.
  • Platform building starts YESTERDAY!!! Also, he said use Google+, because whatever you post gets preferential positioning on search engines.
  • Architect for virality. Tweak every aspect of your book, cover, description, formatting to find what works best. And find what categorization also gets you attention.
He is always fascinating to listen to. He says the power of publishing is shifting to authors. Whoo Hoo!!!! And that the market outside the US will be the next to boom.

There was a marketing class that suggested working with other corporations to advertize each other. If you write horse romances, think about having a book signing at a horse show, or something like that.

The information is a little dry when related in a blog. I suggest to everyone that can do it, you need to go to the conference itself. Next year is in Kansas City, and Robyn and I have already mapped it out! Thanks for stopping by and if you have questions, post them in the comments.