A Writer's Guide To: Tumblr

We've been talking a lot about identifying and finding our readers. Your comments have been wonderful and really got my wheels turning. We all know that social media is an important component of every author's marketing toolbox, but with so many sites it's hard to know which ones to use.
writer author marketing tools
 I'm not a social media expert, but I do know how to track down information. Over the next few weeks I'll feature a different social media site and provide the best information I can find on how to use it and ways writers can benefit from it.

To kick things off, we're starting with a site I know practically nothing about: Tumblr. Here are the best five posts I found to help us all learn more about it.

1. Kissmetrics
This post is heavy on the details of Tumblr. If you've never looked in to creating your own site, this is a great place to start. The author shares everything from how to enable non-member comments to how to increase your chances of going viral. Plus, there's an option at the bottom of the page to sign up and get a marketer's guide to Tumblr

2. Mashable
This post shares both the advantages and disadvantages of Tumblr. Not everyone or every business is suited to a Tumblr account and this post provides guidelines for making the decision.

3. Practical eCommerce
Need a quick hit of why Tumblr is the way to go? This post shares the top five reasons marketers should be on the fastest growing social networking site.

4. Media Bistro
Galley Cat offers up their Tumblr tips just for writers

5. YA Highway
Still not sure. The always informative folks over at YA Highway provide a list of YA authors with Tumblr sites. Be sure to check them out and get a feel for what other authors are doing.


The Millions
Not a YA writer? Never fear, The Millions has put together several lists of sites including authors, readers, and literary themed Tumblr blogs.

So there's my roundup. Do you have a Tumblr site? Share you link in the comments or share you own tips for how authors can be using the site to find and cultivate our readers.

Agency Lessons: The Query Games part 1

I'm getting ready to throw myself back into the query trenches and while getting my prep work done, I realized how daunting it can be just to get started. I'm kinda neurotic when it comes to querying, but organization keeps me sane. That said, I thought some of you might be interested in my OCD process. I'll be taking over the Agency Lessons for the next few weeks to give you an inside look at how I query.
It's no surprise to those who know me, but I live in Excel. Everything is easier to organize in a spreadsheet. Queries are no different. My first step is to make a rough list of agents by searching on agentquery, querytracker and publisher's marketplace. I also add any agents who've caught my eye on Twitter or another social media site.

Each agent gets added to the spreadsheet:
Sample Query Page
I use this to track the agent, who they are with, their contact info, submission guidelines, response times, etc. This list has several agents from one agency. If that happens, I go to their website and select the agent that best matches what I write. Unless an agency specifically says it's okay, you should never query more than one agent from an agency.

After I have the general info listed, I start looking for interviews and personal blogs. I'm a big fan of the GLA blog and Mother.Write.Repeat when it comes to getting more specific agent info. I want to know how hands on the agent is when it comes to editing, their preferred communication method and agenting philosophy (that's totally a real thing). This gets added to the spreadsheet under agent comments.

This field helps me to personalize my queries. It also helps me get to know the agents more and decide who I want to query in my first round, second round, etc. I have one more field labeled "Additional Info". This is for the random stuff that comes up, like if an agent has a preferred order of the way they want things pasted into the email. This is also where I notate if the agent is one of the few who wants extra stuff attached instead of pasted.

I can see some of your eyes glazing over. I get it. Some people hate spreadsheets with a passion. Or you might be looking at this and thinking "Sweet Sixteen Candles, that's a lot of work." Yeah, it is. But here's the deal. Finding the right agent is important. If something is important, you put the extra effort in to get it right. No matter how you organize your querying process, make sure you aren't just phoning it in.

I want to mention one last thing. As you are making your agent list and researching each person, you need to be honest with yourself. If you come across an agent that you don't feel would be a good match for you personally, don't query them. I get the draw of having a huge query list, because bigger numbers increase your chances. But you are only wasting everyone's time by querying someone you don't want to work with.

Next week, I'll hijack Agency Lessons again and talk about grouping agents and timing your queries. Doesn't that sound glamorous?

Guest Post: Natasha Hanova

Today, I'm excited to host Natasha Hanova. Natasha writes paranormal romance, dark fantasy, and dystopian fiction for both YA and adult audiences. As a wife and mother of twins plus one, she loves to read paranormal romance, savors anything chocolate, and is addicted to Pinterest.

Her debut novel, EDGE OF TRUTH (coming June 6, 2013, from Sapphire Star Publishing) draws the reader into a dystopian world with a supernatural twist – a headstrong teen whose emotions trigger earthquakes. The story explores suppression, greed, and revenge, while testing the boundaries of loyalty and integrity. Find it on GoodReads here.

First, I’d like to thank Sarah for hosting me here on Sarah Nego Writes. I appreciate this opportunity to share a few tips for managing social media.

Today’s authors can’t solely depend on an agent or a publishing house for marketing their work. We are expected to have a social media presence. Luckily, there are a number of opportunities for writer’s to connect with a broader range of readers, and vice versa. The Internet allows us to communicate with one another across the state, across the country, across the ocean.

We have a buffet of social media options: blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube, MySpace, LinkedIn, Google+, Digg, Reddit, GoodReads, etc. So, how do you manage it all and still find time to write?

Here are five tips for managing social media that have worked for me:
  1. Explore the different options. Then, decide which one(s) best fit your technical skills and personal preferences. I’m the kind of person who likes pizza with everything on it, but I’m more discerning with social media. Of the fourteen mentioned above, I only actively use five.
  2. Determine how much time you’re able to designate for social media. Networking is a time consuming activity, but totally worth the investment. I’ve met a number of wonderful people in the blogosphere, who I’ve then connected with on Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest, which is addictive, yet useful, see 13 Things Writers Should Know. Pinterest is my double fudge brownie. Sometimes, I gorge on it, but then I feel guilty for not spending the time writing/revising. Moderation is key.
  3. Create a daily schedule of which sites to visit and for how long. Think of this as planning a healthy, well-balanced meal. Many bloggers state right up front which days they update, which makes planning those visits a little easier. Sites like Twitter and Facebook update by the minute. It’s too easy to loose track of time there. Do yourself a favor when you visit them, set a timer. And no hitting snooze.
  4. Don’t feel pressured to be everywhere all the time. It's good manners to acknowledge someone who tweets your post, retweets your tweets, mentions you, comments on your blog, etc. It's also important to return the favor by (re)tweeting and leaving comments. However, there are times when participating in social media has to take the back burner. Some days, I spend quality time networking and others when I focus solely on my WiP, which leads to my last tip.
  5. Keep writing. As writer’s this must be the top priority. We must continue exercising our creativity daily, or as often as possible. Networking is a good thing, but not to the detriment of writing.

How about you? Which social media sites do you use? Do you have any tips for maintaining a balance?

Thanks, Natasha! Be sure to check out all of her social media sites: Blog, Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and Pinterest

Add EDGE OF TRUTH to your TBR list
Edge of Truth
Citizens who report to work on time, obey the Overlord’s laws, and stay off the Synbot’s radar, live long lives. Long, dull, monotonous lives.

It’s not a bad plan for someone with a hidden ability that marks her as Other. In a world pitted against her, sixteen-year-old Rena Moon strives for a life beyond working herself to death at the factory. Seeing an alternative, she risks selling relics from the forbidden lands at Market. It becomes the worst decision she ever made. Someone kidnaps her best friend in exchange for the one thing that would end her oppression.

Driven by loyalty, Rena and seventeen-year-old Nevan Jelani, soulful composer, green thumb extraordinaire, and the secret love of her life, plot to rescue her friend and reclaim her salvage. Still, the thought lingers whether Nevan is a true hero or another thief waiting for his chance at her loot. Events spin wildly, deepening Rena’s suspicions and pushing her limit of control. With more than her freedom at stake, she must decide if she’s willing to kill to protect what’s precious to her. For once, the Overlord isn’t holding all the power, but can Rena live with being reduced to what she’s trying so hard to escape?

Are you an author? Do you have marketing advice to share? Check out my guest post guidelines here.

3 Reasons You Can't Do It All

When it comes to marketing ourselves and our work, there are a lot of different options available to us. Next week, I'm starting a new series that highlights a different social media site and lists links to the experts on how to use them. As writers, it's tempting to try every new shiny thing that comes around, but that can be a recipe for disaster. So before you dive in and try to tackle everything, keep in mind that you can't do it all, no matter how much coffee you drink. Here are three reasons why it's okay not to do it all.

My favorite coffee mug. It says "Behold the power of caffeine".

1. There aren't enough hours in the day
Even if you are a superstar who only needs 4 hours of sleep a night and had no other obligations, you still can't do it all. There are just too many options out there for ways to market yourself and your work. And don't forget that you have to write still.

You'd be better off setting aside a specific amount of time every day or each week dedicated to marketing. For me, I like to get on all my social media sites first thing in the morning. Checking in with everyone makes me feel connected to the writing community and gives me a boost of confidence to get my writing done. But I know that by 10am, I need to shut it off and get to work.

2. You can't be an expert in that many areas
Participating in dozens of marketing efforts means trying to master a lot of areas. You may be okay or even good in these areas, but it's doubtful you'll be outstanding in all of them. If you want to stand out in the crowd, you need to be outstanding.

Instead, pick a few things to focus on. Become amazing in these areas. You can always change your mind and branch out later, but keep your focus narrow to start. 

3. Eventually, something has to give
Even if you are able to keep up with a blog, FB, Twitter, guest posts, 6 different forums, book club, a weekly paper column and that new editing service you started, it can't last. When we start new endeavors, everything is bright and shiny so the newness tends to give us a bit more energy and enthusiasm. But it can't last. At some point, you will run out of steam and then something has to give.

As a writer, your brain is a hot commodity. A  professional athlete who over-trains risks permanent injury that can put them out of the game, and writers are no different. If you burn out, you may have to take a break from everything just to get your feet under you again. The only thing worse than doing too much marketing is doing none at all. Don't let yourself get to that point.

Now that you have permission to not do it all, I hope you enjoy the new series. The goal is for all of us (myself included) to learn enough about all the options available to us as writers, so we can make an informed decision about where to spend our time.

Agency Lesson: Trust is Key

So you know how when it comes to querying an agent there aren't any resources available for finding good agents and we don't have the internet, and even if we did, hardly any agents have websites, or blogs, or twitter accounts where we can get to know them. And to make it worse, we don't have anything out there to warn us writers about bad agents, though we should totally have this and call it...um...Writer Beware. Yeah, that would be awesome. Too bad we don't have any of that.

I think you get the idea.

When it comes to deciding who to query there are so many resources that it could halt the entire process if you tried to look at all of them. Seriously, I don't know how writers managed this 20 years ago, but we are some very lucky writers.

Because of this, there is absolutely no reason in the world to query someone you know nothing about. At the bare minimum, you should be familiar with their website and books they've sold. At the minimum. When you ask an agent to represent you, you are asking them to take control of a large part of your career. You are trusting them to know what they are doing.

So why in the world would you query someone you don't trust?

Lately, I've been seeing a number of queries come through containing concern about the security of an author's intellectual property. As in "I've spent years working on this and don't want it stolen, so before I send you sample pages, can you please assure me that they are safe in your hands?" When I see this, it's like a huge waving red flag that says "I want you to be responsible for my career, but I don't really trust you."

Let me tell you, folks. I'm not even an agent yet and I don't have the energy or extra hours it would take to steal someone's idea from a query. I can garauntee the agents don't either. And why would we even want to? All it would take is one writer to make the claim that an agent stole their book and the whole agency would go down in flames (well, maybe not in flames, but there would be some serious damage). Talk about a career ending move.

But this isn't about what agents will or won't do. This is about remembering that a query is not an invitation to like our book. It's a request to form a business partnership. If you can't trust an agent enough to send them sample pages without worrying they'll be stolen, you certainly can't trust that agent to be a business partner.

I'm not saying there aren't bad agents out there. If I did, there would be a dozen comments about someone's critique partner's bad experience and so on. Just like in any profession, there are going to be bad eggs. Lucky for us, we have amazing resources at our fingers so we can avoid them.

So all of this to say, if an agent doesn't give you the warm fuzzies when it comes to trust, then don't query them. And if you don't have any "Danger, Will Robinson" moments, then have faith that an agent is going to treat your manuscript with respect.

Guest Post: Christi Snow

Today, I'm pleased to bring back Romance Author Christi Snow.

As an avid reader her entire life, she always dreamed of writing books that brought to others the kind of joy she felt when reading. But…she never did anything about it besides jot down a few ideas and sparse scenes. When she turned 41, Christi decided it was time to go after her dream and started writing. Within four months, she'd written over 150,000 words and hasn’t stopped since. Christi found her passion by writing about sexy, alpha heroes and smart, tough heroines falling in love and finding their passion. She's truly living the dream and loving every minute of it.

Hi, everyone! Sarah, thank you so much for having me here today.

When Sarah asked me to be here today, she asked me as an author, but I’m going to talk to you today as my other personality, the book review blogger. I was a book reviewer a long time before I decided to bite the bullet and become an author. That gives me a different perspective on this whole writing thing.

Chances are you became a writer because you enjoy books. Let’s face it, that’s why most of us write. Well, that’s why most book bloggers review books too. They enjoy them. They get excited about them and they want to share that excitement with other readers and bloggers. The bloggers are not your enemy. (For the most part… I know, there is ALWAYS a bad egg or two in every group that want to spoil everyone’s fun. We try to ignore them.)

Book bloggers can help you quite a bit. When they get excited about books, they talk about them and that works for you and your book…they tweet, they review, they promote. Book bloggers can create buzz for your books which means more people see your books and more people want to buy your books.

But the question is: how do you get book bloggers to read your book? There are three key steps to this:

1. Research… Do your research to find bloggers who read and review your genre and then read their reviews to see if their reading tastes match yours. Chances are, if they hate your favorite author in your genre, then they probably aren’t going to like your book either. Note: almost all bloggers will have a review policy somewhere on their blog. Make sure you adhere to that, or they’re definitely going to turn down doing a review for you.

2. Cover Design… I cannot emphasize this enough. If your package is not appealing, you will not sell your book and you will also have a hard time getting reviews. Your cover NEEDS to be professionally designed. Period. There are tons of great cover designers out there and most of them are fairly inexpensive. This is a business. Treat it as one and you will fare better for it. As a reviewer, when I receive a request with a bad cover design, the odds of me accepting your book, just went down about 50-75%. That’s huge in the competitive world of books. You are also KILLING your chances at impulse buys on sites like Amazon. This is a competitive enough business without you sabotaging yourself with an amateur cover design.

3. Goodreads… I know. I just heard the collective groan by you Goodreads haters out there. I know there are trolls on there. Trolls are a fact that you are just going to have to deal with AND IGNORE. Most of the reviewers I know rely heavily on Goodreads when deciding to accept a book or not. Those of us that use it can spot the trolls. We ignore them. Note: we can also spot your mom’s review and ignore those, too. Book reviewers get HUGE numbers of requests a month and most don’t want to read a book that they’re not going to enjoy. Remember: reviewers LOVE books, but they don’t want to waste their time reading a book that they hate. That’s miserable for everyone. Goodreads is a way for them to safeguard against that. Especially if you are a fairly unknown author, Goodreads is a great way to build a readership. USE IT!

I’m just one book blogger, but these have been my observations where authors really mess up and miss out on the free advertising out there that’s done by the reviewers. They can do a lot for you to help spread the word about your great book. I highly recommend that you contact a few and see if it helps your book sales. (BUT I’m sorry, as of Feb, I no longer accept books for review. After 2 ½ years of reviewing, I’ve decided it’s time for me to concentrate on my personal to-be-read pile which has over 800 books in it.)

Oh, and yeah, I have all that writing to be done, too.

Thanks, Christi! Speaking of all that writing. Christi has a new companion novella that just released this week as part of her When the Mission Ends series. If you've yet to check out her books, this is a must read.

 Before his mission began, he went home. 24 hours to say goodbye to his twin sister.
Instead he found her. A girl that was nothing like the one he thought he knew.
They have 24 hours. 24 hours before he deploys on an extremely dangerous mission. 24 hours together in a freak West Texas snowstorm. 24 hours that will have to get them both through the awful next year.
When the resident good-girl decides to take on the visiting bad-boy, 24 hours is all it takes to change their lives forever.
This is the story of the 24 hours that no one knew ever occurred…until now.

Operation: Endeavor
Operation: Endgame

Coming April 2013

Where are your readers?

Now that you've answered the question of "Who is your reader?", it's time to go and find them. One thing to keep in mind is that you aren't seeking out your readers to sell to them. Your primary goal should be engagement. I realize that's easier said than done.

At the recent Book2 Un-Conference, discoverability was a large topic of discussion. Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) tweeted this: The time required to build community engagement is a big consideration, it's not quick. Engagement is not an advertising drive-by. You can't stop in, saturate the community with book plugs, and run out. It's widely believed that this kind of spam marketing kills unicorns. So, unless you want to be like Voldemort and murder unicorns...
Yeah, I didn't think so. Just try to remember the WAM principle and think about how you'd want authors to engage with you.

Now on to the good stuff. Where are your readers?

1. Google
This may seem like an overly simple suggestion, but it is kinda genius that way. Pull up your Google search bar and type in "your genre readers". I've tried this with several different genres and found great results, everything from reader forums to release blogs and newsletters.

Once you've found your groups you can take two routes. One is to sign up and join in the discussion as a reader. I have to assume that you read in the genre you write in. If not, this is a problem. Another option is to contact the administrator of these sites. Can you offer your services as a content contributor? Do they host author interviews? Alert their members to contests and giveaways? Get familiar with the content and figure out if there is a place for you.

2. Book Clubs
As of writing this, Goodreads has 2921 book clubs listed. Some of these are huge groups of thousands of readers and other are small groups. You can also use the same tactic as above and search in Google for "your genre book club". Book clubs are ideal people to market your book to. Here are people who love books so much, they like to read them and then sit around talking about them. Yeah!

Joining a bunch of book clubs is going to be outside of what most of us can do. That said, there are still plenty of ways to engage. Contact the leader of a club and offer them some free copies of your book. If that's not feasible, why not offer a Google chat or Skype call. Even if the group decides not to read your book, you've gotten your work in front of an influential reader.

3. Social Media
No list of places to find your reader would be complete without mentioning social media. My best piece of advice here is to pick the platforms you enjoy using and stick with those. There are a ton of platforms and new ones crop up all the time. By all means, check them out, but don't try to be everywhere. Spreading yourself too thin means your time spent will be less effective.

Chuck Sambuchino has a great chapter about social media in his book Create your Writer Platform. One of his best tips is to understand the different uses of the different platforms. People tend to use sites like Facebook to connect socially where Twitter users are looking for more value heavy content.

To find your readers, act like a reader. As I mentioned before, you should be reading in your own genre. Did you just finish a great book? Share that on social media and don't forget to use keywords and hashtags that let others see what your talking about. Just, don't go crazy with the hashtags. By engaging with other readers who you know already enjoy your genre, they will be open to the occasional plug for your own work.

These are my top tips, but now I want to hear from you. Where do you find readers?

Agency Lessons: Staying Organized

A few weeks ago, my agency lessons post talked about what it is that I do as an agency intern. Your comments and questions were great! One commenter asked how I keep organized with everything I do. Great question, but not one I could answer in a quick comment. So today, I'm straying a bit to share my organization tips. While these aren't things I've learned in my internship, they've been key in keeping me together.

I've read a lot of books about time management and organization, but hands down the best book I've read on this subject is GETTING THINGS DONE by David Allen.
Buy it Here
 I could spend the next month talking about the great tips I learned from this book, so I'll just share the best one. My not so secret, amazing tip on keeping it together is...the composition notebook!

I would seriously be lost without this thing. I've used the fancy Franklin Covey planners and other systems, but I never found one that worked for me. I always used some of the system, but other parts were left completely untouched. The beauty of a notebook is that it's not a system. I don't have to follow any rules or remember what goes where.

So here's how I use it:

1. Lists galore. I keep a running to do list (yes, I'm one of those people who likes to cross things off). Before, I would have lists strewn all over my house for different things. A grocery list, a list of things to pack, a to-do list for work, a to-do list for home, you get the idea. Now, I have one list and everything goes on it. Before you go crazy, I don't have 'lettuce' and 'milk' next to 'make a doctor appointment'. But I do have 'make grocery list' next to 'send press release to x'.

 My main list includes all my action things. Stuff I need to get done, no matter how small or insignificant. If it isn't on the list, it's likely to be forgotten and then even the most insignificant task can become a big deal. Also, I try to break up tasks into their smaller sub-tasks. So instead of listing 'pack for trip', I write 'do laundry', 'check weather for destination', 'buy travel toiletries', etc. All of those smaller tasks need to happen before I get to the actual job of packing, so they go on the list.

2. Keep it all together. That grocery list I mentioned in number one may not go on my main action list, but I keep it in the same notebook. I literally open up to the next blank page and make my list there. I also takes notes during important phone calls or while I'm watching a webinar. And you guessed it, these notes all go in the same book. Some of those notes might prompt me to add items to the to-do list. Others just need to be typed up and filed (another task for the to-do list). The beauty of this is that when I get to that item on my list, I don't have to go searching for my grocery list or the random piece of paper I took notes on. It's all right there.

3. Visual is important. I'm a big visual person. If something is hard to read, I'm less likely to give it the attention it needs. If my to-do list has more items crossed off than not, I fold the page over and make a fresh list with just the stuff left. One of the reasons I use composition books instead of spiral bound is the mess. With spiral books, the torn out page leaves little paper scraps and eventually a well used page will fall out. With the composition, I fold each page on the diagonal (alternating directions) when I'm done with it. It keeps those notes tucked away just in case I need them again, but allows me to quickly find the most recent page I'm working on.

My notebook goes everywhere with me so that I can always add an item to the list or take a quick note when I need to. As a side note, this is also how I keep up with my writing. Every manuscript has a composition book. This is where I make scene notes, write comments I get from my CPs, and jot down moments of inspiration. I also take this with me everywhere so that any unexpected free minute isn't wasted. I write out scenes or notes about edits I want to make all in the same book.

So this is what works for me. What works for you? What are the ways you stay organized? Share your tips and tricks in the comments.

Guest Post: Beth Fred

Today, I'm excited to host Beth Fred. Beth is the author of The Fate Of A Marlowe Girl, and The Other Marlowe Girl (coming April 16, 2013). She blogs at www.bethfred.com, where her goal this year is to promote you! You can also find her on Twitter @bethfred08. And when she’s not reading, she’s playing with her little ELF, the cutest baby in the world!

Without any more delay, here's Beth!

Hi Sarah, thanks for having me today. I’m going to give some information about marketing
today that I’ve learned from experience, conferences, and other writers. I think most of these
things are going to be true for both self published and traditionally published writers, but when
something applies more so to one group than the other, I’ll make the distinction.

1. Book bloggers are gold—Simone Elkeless says that she believes the reason Perfect
Chemistry made the best seller’s list is because she got copies in the hands of 100 book
bloggers before it was released. Now, she paid a PR firm an insane amount of money for
this, and feels this is the only thing she got out of it. Use your connections, and if you
don’t have many, or they’re in the wrong genre, hire a blogger. Your book may be great.
If no one has ever heard of it, they can’t buy it.

2. Trailers—They’re good, but there is no proof they work. They work better for some
people than others. If you’re going to do this make it memorable. It doesn’t have to be
high budget or even make sense. The Perfect Chemistry trailer was a rap song with the
chorus “It’s a book. Read it.”

3. Social Media—If you’re a natural, use this to your advantage. If you’re not (I’m not),
pick one form (twitter, fb, blog) and use it to start building a platform and to
have a place to make announcements. If you’re going to go with blogging (which is what
I do), it’s not a bad idea to have an author fb page anyhow. You can make the same
announcements on it as you would on your blog and have another opportunity to promote
your cover. If you have an author blog or website (and you really should—it’s a place
to list all of your work with purchase links) create a fan page. “Did you like my book?
Please leave a review here,” and link to amazon and Goodreads. You can post books that
aren’t out yet, too. “Wanna read this? Please like the Goodreads page here.” You’ve
made it easy for readers to help you.

4. Paperback Push—If you’re pushing a paperback, call all the bookstores around you,
and tell them you’re in town and you’d be willing to autograph stock for them. (Indie
stores are carrying self published book these days, so everyone can do this). A lot of
times, they’ll order copies of your books to have autographed stock. Create a street team.
Announce it over social media, and offer swag for dedicated fans that will help. Let them
talk up your book, and push the cover facing forward in bookstores, write reviews, and
anything else they want to do.

5. Book Packaging—This last one is for indie authors because they’re responsible for the
cover, cover copy, and title themselves. If you’re traditionally published you probably
have a lot of help with this, and that’s good. Take it. If you’re self-publishing, put your
title in Goodreads before you ever create the record. If you find thousands of search
results, you need a new title. Your book won’t be found otherwise. That being said, don’t
choose a title too obscure. And hire a cover artist. I know you think you can make your
own cover. I did too! This is a really bad idea. Unless you’re already in graphics for a
living, don’t make your own cover. I spent $5 on my first stock photo, and I really liked
it. I was so proud because I needed to sell very few books to be profitable. But I can tell
you this cover has sold many more copies than the first one did. And in case you’re as
skeptical as I was in the beginning that packaging really matters, I can tell you changing
the title and cover made an immediate difference on a book that had already been out
months. After all, doesn’t that look good?

And it goes without saying, but be nice. Offer to promote other authors, they’ll usually
promote you back. Lizzy Ford gave me a book once because I tweeted I was looking for
recommendations, and I loved it. I’ve bought a few since. She’s always willing to help
other writers, so I’ll promote her any time I can. Offer to help any time you can, and be
willing to give away review copies.

Thanks, Beth, for sharing your advice and learning pains with us today. Be sure to check out Beth's books:

The Fate Of A Marlowe Girl
When twenty-four-year-old Tiffany escapes her sister Kammy's too wild Cancun bachelorette party, she finds herself in a bar with the unwanted attention of a gorgeous local named Luke.

Luke may be charming but Tiffany is leaving in two days and doesn't need any complications. But complications are exactly what she gets when the cops show up to raid Kammy's party. When Kammy is arrested, Tiffany agrees to have dinner with Luke, so he'll help her get Kammy out of jail. Kammy's arrest forces her to spend an extra day in Cancun, meaning she'll miss a crucial meeting, and as an accountant in tax season, she is already drowning in work. Not to mention, every second she spends with Luke makes it harder to leave. With Luke, Tiffany can forget about work.

But will the airport be their final goodbye?
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Coming in April

The Other Marlowe Girl
When twenty-four-year-old dance school drop out Kammy Marlowe is evicted by her mother, she goes to her favorite bar to kill time where she finds an unlikely friend in the blunt eye candy, Enrique, beside her who happens to be overly interested in her. But Kammy knows there is no way she and Enrique have a shot, when she realizes he is her brother-in-law’s brother and has been privy to her wild past. Enrique swears he’s interested in the person she is today, not the things she’s done before, but her trust is tested when a drug dealer her ex-husband owes attacks her, and Enrique says he has to tell his brother, because she’s living in his house. With no options and a money hungry drug dealer on her back, Kammy accepts a position as a dancer at a club that really wanted a stripper, instead. When she bumps into Enrique there, he’s done with her. And Kammy doesn’t need a guy who hangs out at strip clubs anyhow. Kammy doesn’t have a reason to stay in Texas anymore, so she auditions for the Bolshevik Ballet. The dance company finds her to be talented, but when Enrique learns Kammy is going to Russia, he’s determined to stop her. Will she give up the chance of a dream to stay with the man she loves?