Extend your reach with Click-to-Tweet

If you're a regular visitor here, you may have noticed something new the last few weeks. In case you missed it, I've been throwing in a few extra links into my posts. What am I trying to do? Drive more traffic to your site without spending more time online. Tweet This!

See, there is it! That nifty little link that makes it easier for readers to share your site with others.

So here's the deal. Everyone wants to have more readers and blog visitors. No one wants to post into a void. But you're busy. You don't have all day to run around posting links to your blog on every social media site out there. But what if there was something easy for you to use AND easy for your readers to use? Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Introducing www.clicktotweet.com. Seriously, this site is so simply it's genius. Tweet This!

Here's how it works. You pick a line from your recent post, website or other social media outlet. Head over to click to tweet and copy it into the obvious, over-sized box on their page. Honestly, they even give you a character count so you can't go over your 140 limit.

Add the link to your website, blog, etc and click the Generate Link! button. They will give you a custom link that you can then add to your post using what ever text you want (for example: Tweet This!). When your readers click on the link, they are auto-directed to twitter with a pre-filled tweet. All they have to do is click post and your link and carefully chosen line are spread to all their followers.

Here's what I love about this. First, it seriously could not be any easier. No html, no coding, no behind the scenes tom follery. Just a plain, easy to use link. Tweet This! Second, it takes the guess work out of the equation for readers who want to share your post. Have you ever wanted to tweet a link to a great article, but weren't sure what to write with it? When you use this service (which is totally free, by the way), your readers don't have to add a thing.

Third, with the simple addition of your twitter handle into the tweet, it is super easy to track how effective each link is. Every time someone clicks on one of my Tweet This! links, I get a little message from twitter because the tweet includes my name. I can see exactly which line they chose to tweet. And because I use bitly (another favorite site of mine), I can track the number of new readers I'm generating.

So there you have it. A way to make your site work for you without adding extra social media time to your already busy schedule. Give it a try with your next post and see how much farther you can extend your reach.

Have you used Click to Tweet already? What was your experience?

Agency Lessons: A video interview

Lots of fun stuff happened last week, so I've got maybe my biggest lesson post yet.

I gave my first interview as an agent and discovered that I am a dork on camera. Blame it on my theater background, but I can't answer a question without turning it into a mini performance. If you can stomach 45 minutes of me being a bit over the top, there is actually a lot info here. The Writer's Discussion Group asked some timely questions about working with an agent, self-publishing and the future roles of agents.

Check out the video evidence of my geekitude. While you're there, be sure to take a peak at all the other great interviews +John Ward has posted on his channel. There is tons of information about writing, marketing and everything in between.

In other fun news, I have been promoted from Agent Apprentice/PR Specialist to Jr. Agent/PR Team Leader.

Uh, what does that mean?

It means that I'm officially flying solo in the agenting world (but with my lovely co-agents only a quick email away). The change to PR Team Leader is based on some really exciting work going on at the agency. We have an amazing team of Summer Interns who are killing it right now, planning blog tours, author contests and all kinds of fun stuff for our clients. As the Team Leader I'm guiding the troops as we help our clients build awareness and grow sales. Seriously, this agency rocks!

So that's it for now. If you watch the video and think of any questions that didn't get answered, feel free to add your questions in the comment box and I'll answer them here. Have a great Monday!

QR Codes: What are they, How to get one, and What do you do with it?

Hi! My name is QR Code.

You've probably seen these little black Tetris boxes on everything from your toothpaste tube to subway billboards. We call them QR (Quick Response) Codes and they could be a secret weapon in your book marketing arsenal. Tweet This!

QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes. I like to think of them as upgraded version of the scan lines on grocery store products. Viewers can use a free app (I like i-nigma) on a smart phone to scan the QR code and be directed to a website of your choosing.

The great thing about QR codes is that you don't have to be tech savvy to use one. There are lots of websites that will convert a web address to a QR code for free. I've previously tooted the horn for bitly.com based on their link shortening and tracking services. As a bonus, they will also convert your link to a QR code at the same time.

Yes, I did draw the arrow by hand. Thanks for noticing.

The bonus of using bitly to create your QR code is that you are creating a unique link that will allow you to track the number of users who scan your code. You can create different codes for different uses and gage which one is performing the best. And it's free. Pretty cool.

Now that you know what a QR code is and how you can get one for free, what do you do with it?

Above all else, a QR code is designed to be mobile.  Tweet This!

It is pointless to put a code on your website or a piece of mail or email. Think about places people might be out and about where they can run across your work. If you are printing swag, these can be a nice addition to bookmarks, totebags, etc. I've even seen them on the back of t-shirts.

You might also consider added a code to the inside back cover of your physical book. A reader flips to the last page and desperately wants more. Imagine seeing "Scan here for a sneak peek of book two!" These can also be great if you are running any print adds since people tend to flip through magazines standing in line at the grocery and waiting at the doctor's office.

Remember that the code is a quick way for readers to access you and your work when they aren't sitting in front of a computer. To get more ideas, consider taking a walking tour of your city. When you are out, make a note of all the times you wish you had more access to information. While the situation might not apply to readers, it should help to jump start the brainstorming.

Before you start printing QR codes on everything, think very carefully about where you want to send your readers. This will be determined by what action you want the viewer to take. Do you want them to buy another book from you? Send them to the "Books" section of your website. Want them to sign up for your mailing list? Send them to your mailing list sign up. Are you building buzz for a book that hasn't come out yet? Send them to a sneak preview page or your book trailer (keep in mind that videos are hard to load on phones so you should keep any video or audio files to 30 seconds or less).

Like any marketing effort, it pays to know you audience. If you write cozy mysteries for the 60+ crowd, QR codes are probably not going to be very useful. If you write sassy romance for the 35-year-old busy mom of three, you may have hit pay dirt. If you aren't sure, experiment with it. Choose an item you are already printing and add a code. It won't cost you anything and it might just be the extra exposure you were looking for.

Bonus code idea: QR codes aren't just for selling books. Try this out next time you're at a conference. Print out a QR code sticker to add to your name badge. When new friends scan it, they are taken right to your Twitter account and in one click you have a new follower.

Do you use QR codes to market your book? Where do you use them? Is it working? I'd love to hear about your experiences.

What happens when you ask for help?

Remember last month when I told you to stop dragging your feet and ask for help? Today's post is a direct result of an author doing just that. I got a short, but sweet email from Beth Fred last week asking me to be part of her street team. It was concise, full of all the info I needed, and had a direct "What About Me" component.

While the timing didn't work for me to be on the street team, I was so impressed by Beth's request, I knew I wanted to help where I could. Below, you'll find the blurb for Beth's new book, A MISSING PEACE, along with a sign up form to join her street team.

Also, just a reminder that today is the last day to get your questions in for my Google Chat "Ask an Agent" session. You don't have to be a member of the community to post a question, but preference will be given to members if we start to run low on time.

Now, who wants to hear more about Beth's great new YA novel? Oh, good. Me, too!

A Missing Peace
Angry seventeen-year-old Iraqi war refugee Mirriam Yohanna hates her new life in Killeen,Texas, where the main attraction is a military base, and army brats like Caleb Miller think it's okay to comment on a girl's looks before he's even met her. 
After Mirriam turns him down in front of everyone, Caleb rises to the challenge of taking her to prom when his friends dare him. As the two start spending time together to work on a government assignment, Mirriam proves to be a good friend to have. When Caleb's leg is crushed in a hit and run, Mirriam is there to pull him out of the street and push him to keep living. She's also able to tell him the shocking truth about his father's death, which she has firsthand information about. Something the other soldiers would never do. That single truth changes both of their lives and strengthens their bond.
Caleb and Mirriam have fallen hard for each other, but when Caleb finds out the truth about his father's death, he is determined to uncover who is at fault. And the truth will have consequences for Mirriam's safety. When her family finds out the two are together, they decide it's time to arrange Mirriam's marriage to a proper Iraqi man. Will Caleb find justice for his family? Will Mirriam find a way to be true to herself?
Sounds good, right? If you'd like to help spread the word and be one of the cool kids, just sign up here. :)

Agency Lessons: Five tips for using comp titles in your query

 **Special Note** On Wednesday, I'll be recording a special "Ask an Agent" video with +John Ward as part of the Writer's Discussion Group over on Google+. If you haven't joined this wonderful group yet, then this is your chance. Stop by and leave your soul burning questions. I'll let everyone know when the video is available.

If you're a writer with dreams of publication, then you also probably have dreams of Oprah's book club and bestsellers lists. You may think your book is just as good as your favorites, but be careful how much of that leaks into your query.
Comparing your manuscript to other novels can be a great way to give an agent a better look at your work, but not all comps are created equal. Here are five mistakes to avoid when selecting comp titles for your query.

1. Choosing obscure titles/authors
Reading widely is a prerequisite for writing well in your genre. Agents are also reading widely so they know what is already on the market and where the gaps are. That said, you can't assume that they've read the same lesser known titles you have. Selecting a title that isn't well known doesn't help your query if it's unlikely the agent you are querying has read it. Good news for you! Many agents are on Goodreads! While it won't tell you every book they've read, you are safe using a lesser known title if it shows up on their virtual book shelf. It may even earn you brownie points. :)
2. Choosing only bestsellers
On the other side of the coin is only selecting titles that spent the past six months in the #1 spot of the NYTimes. This works against you in two ways. First, it insinuates that you've only read the bestsellers or only a few titles. Second, it sounds pretentious. There's just no way to say your book is a mix between Harry Potter and Hunger Games without sounding like you're the bomb diggity.  No matter what you do, DO NOT say that you are the next (fill-in-the-blank with a bestseller)[Tweet This]. Hundreds of thousands of books are published each year and only a tiny sliver of them are bestsellers. Calling your work the next big thing shows a lack of realistic expectations for your publishing future.
3. Comparing on plot only
 Using comp titles to give a better picture of your plot is fine, but it only shows a small portion of your work. Consider using comps to showcase your voice, writing style or world building. Instead of "XYZ novel is a mix between A Novel and B Novel" consider a more comprehensive comparison. For example: My XYZ novel combines the world building techniques of A author with the voice of B author. Just be sure you aren't comparing your work to Hemingway.
4. Choosing off-genre titles
If you're writing an adult romance don't compare your work to Rick Riordan. This is an extreme example, but hopefully you get the picture. Your comp titles need to be age and genre appropriate [Tweet This]. You can make an exception to this by acknowledging the difference. For example, you might call your work a teen version of Nora Roberts or a grown-up Ramona Quimby. You could also add an element to a different genre. For example, My novel is like Looking for Alaska with ghosts and a who-dun-it mystery.
5. Comparing to everything
Comp titles are a lot like genre descriptions. Combining two (or three at the most) can paint a picture of something new and interesting. Mentioning more than this leaves your query muddled. Using too many comps is confusing, and it gives the impression that you aren't really sure what your story or style is. I suggest sticking with the best two and leaving it at that. Remember that comp titles are a little extra embellishment to your query, not the star of the show [Tweet This].
There you have it. Deciding to use comp titles is a personal decision. Just make sure that you are purposeful in your decision. Don't stress over finding the right comparisons if you can't think of anything that works. It's better to leave them off than use something that isn't right for your work.

Do you have any tips for using comp titles? Please share your thoughts in the comment box.

Megan Denby: The real work behind self publishing

If you're a regular reader here then you know that, as an agent, I believe there is a lot of reason to go the traditional route when it comes to publishing. That said, I also firmly believe there are some great reasons to self-publish or go indie. I don't sit on the fence, I've built a gate that opens both ways. :)

So in the interest of sharing insight from all kinds of publishing paths, I've invited Megan Denby to the blog today to talk about her successful path to self-publishing and what she did to get there.
Megan Denby
Megan Denby is an award-winning novelist who grew up on a farm with two older sisters and a younger brother. Once she discovered the world of books, she was lost, often reading to the wee hours of the morning. Her world is her family, friends and writing.

Take it away, Megan!

‘A Thistle in the Mist’ is my Scottish historical romance thriller I independently published January 18 2013. After many encouraging responses from agents but just as many rejections, I chose the self publishing route, fully aware that every bit of promoting and marketing was now up to me. I’ve been fortunate to have had steady sales and for the most part, favourable reviews. Is it luck? Is it the result of marketing? I honestly don’t know but here’s what’s worked for me so far.

A week before I published ‘A Thistle in the Mist’ as an ebook, I posted a few blurbs about it on my personal Facebook page. The fact I had written a novel was not something I had shared with too many people and my announcement was met with unexpected enthusiasm. I posted my cover art and carefully chosen excerpts but it was important to me I not bombard my friends with ‘book stuff’ so I created a separate author page and advised all they were welcome to join me there for news of my book. As an independent author with a background in marketing, I know promotion is crucial. That being said, self-promotion is a foreign concept to me. I was raised to be humble and I have an innate sense of humility so I market in a way that reflects my values.

My author page is dedicated to a ‘soft-sell’ approach. I do post regularly but I refuse to merely ‘linkdrop’ to my purchase page. Instead l interact with my readers by offering excerpts from ‘A Thistle in the Mist’ and my second book, ‘Lost to the Mist’. Beautiful photography is a passion of mine and I have been lucky to find stunning photos of Scotland captured by some talented photographers. My books are set in Scotland so I do my best to bring a Scottish feel to my page. I believe photos breathe life and personality into a Facebook page so I include personal photos too – black and white childhood pics as well as photos of me with my books, at book signings and book clubs. Anything appealing or humorous pertaining to Scotland is included as well. 

My main goal is to welcome and connect with everyone – not just my friends – and to make them feel as though they know me and want to return again for a visit. Every comment and message is answered with genuine care. For my fellow authors I post writing tips I’ve unearthed and I support their pages as well. I promote myself by sharing news and accomplishments such as a terrific review, promotion or giveaway.  But I also endorse local businesses and organizations by mentioning locations of an upcoming book signing or book club events and including links to their websites.  Any blatant ‘tooting of my own horn’ is something I try to avoid.

After my Facebook page was up and running, I created my blog – Not Your Average Lassie. Regardless of subject matter I always relate it to my writing in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience. Therefore, fellow writers may pick up some tips I’ve gleaned along the way but my readers may also enjoy learning of my background or just have a good laugh. My blog page includes links to important pages and if I mention my book in my blog the title becomes a link to my purchase page.

Next on my list was a website. After viewing and researching countless author sites, I knew I wanted something clean, welcoming, informative and above all user-friendly. I am technically-challenged in a big way, so my site is simple yet easy for me to maintain and provides pertinent info about my books, my bio, my blog and a few reviews. I acknowledge local bookstores and anyone else who supports me by providing links to their websites.  I get tremendous feedback and regular emails from my readers via my website and these messages mean everything to me.

After reading tons of material targeting independent authors, I felt compelled to join Goodreads and Twitter. Currently I am not utilizing Goodreads to its full potential but I am happy to sit on the sidelines and observe for now. It is great to connect with other authors and readers but I’m not comfortable with ‘collecting’ friends per se and asking them to read my novel in return for an ‘honest’ review. When reading through reviews on Amazon, I am always taken aback by those that begin with ‘The author provided me with a free book in return for an honest review.’ 

I know many authors use this type of system but this sort of thing makes me uneasy and I prefer to earn unsolicited reviews based on the true merits of my book. I steer clear of submitting ‘A Thistle in the Mist’ for mass giveaways and ‘read for reviews’ on any site. That’s not to say I haven’t had fellow authors and friends review my book. That goes with the territory and I’ve had wonderful comments from them. However, I don’t look at my reviews in terms of volume rather in terms of worth. I cherish the reviews that come from complete strangers, who are in no way biased.

Twitter has taken getting used to but I’m kind of getting the hang of it now. I promote with well thought out teasers and excerpts and because you are limited to 140 characters and your tweets literally swim in a sea of other tweets, I don’t feel as though I’m shoving my book down anyone’s throat – something I’m always conscious of.
Once my ebook went live, I decided to give it three months to see if it was met with any interest. I can only compare my sales to those of my fellow independent authors and a few articles I’ve found, but after three months I seemed to be doing well and reviews were by and large positive. At this point I formatted the paperback version of ‘A Thistle in the Mist’. As soon as I received the proof, I visited my local bookstore and asked the Scottish proprietor if he would carry it. My request was met with a skepticism I had anticipated. After all, I was not backed by an agent or publishing house – certain proof that I was a good author. I had only me to back me up. He grudgingly agreed to take a few copies but strongly suggested a book signing was premature. After all, I wasn’t a celebrity and I wasn’t famous.

Only slightly discouraged, but not deterred, I asked a friend who owned a jewellery store in town if she would host a book signing for me. Without hesitation, she agreed and I booked it in conjunction with Diva Night – a popular shopping night for the ladies. Next I visited the local magazine and newspaper and they were happy to accept my press release and sell me an ad. My press release was geared toward my hometown and was written in a way that my close knit community could to relate to. The book signing was a great success and sales at the book store continue to be incredible. The owner has called me several times to restock, advised me I am currently his best-selling author in the region and just recently asked me to do a book signing in his store. I’m still not a celebrity and I’m not famous but it feels pretty darn good all the same and I am grateful beyond words.

A local book club recently invited me to speak and I managed to chat with the ladies and answer their questions without fainting dead away on the floor and I had a great time! I have another book club to attend in a few months and I’ve donated a book to three local libraries as well as passing out bookmarks to anyone who will have them – bookmarks I designed with the cover of my book and website.

Venturing to a neighbouring town was my latest stop on my writing journey and the bookstore owner virtually welcomed me with open arms and invited me to do a signing. I’m slowly but surely sending out feelers and I will continue to visit surrounding towns and cities. I won’t try to sell my book over the phone because it’s too easy for the person on the other end to say no. Instead, I visit with copies of my book, a smile and a few statistics and so far I haven’t been tossed out on the sidewalk. Next on my agenda is to create a basket of Scottish gifts for my next Facebook giveaway and to hopefully set up an interview with a local radio station.

One last piece of advice I have is to be sure to include important links at the end of your ebooks and novels. I have a link to my website with an invitation for readers to contact me to be added to my mailing list for future books, a link to Amazon with an invitation (not a plea!) to leave a review and link to my Facebook page with an invitation to join.  With my ebook, my readers have the ability to immediately click on my links while they still hopefully feel a connection to my story. The response to these links has been fantastic. I also have a photo and my bio at the end of my book. When I read a good book, I like to get a feel for the author and I always flip to the back to learn a little more. Connecting with readers during a story is a must but maintaining that connection once the story is finished is a small triumph.

I have no illusions I will get rich as an independent author of one novel. I began this journey in the hopes I would be able to share my story with as many people as possible. I am thrilled with response I’ve had thus far and I will to continue to promote myself with integrity while relying heavily on the intrinsic worth of my book for future sales.

Thanks for sharing your behind the scenes highlight reel with us. Sounds like a ton of work, but well worth it. Check out Megan at her website www.megandenby.com.

Meara isn’t thinking about Death when she kisses her mother good-bye, but hours later she is, as her
fingers slide into the back of Mother’s shattered skull. Meara thinks her world has ended. She has no idea...

Ebullient and feisty, Meara MacDonald lives an idyllic life on the mist-enfolded Isle of Skye, dreaming of the day she will wed her heart, the gallant Duncan MacLeod. Fate, however, has other plans and when Aunt Deirdre and Uncle Sloan arrive, Meara’s family is taken, one-by-one, for reasons she discovers are both personal and nefarious.

Unable to reign in her spirit or her tongue, Meara falls prey to an intricate web of lies and deception and finds herself catapulted from Scotland to a household steeped in mystery in Nova Scotia. Guided by her strength of will, she will fight her way back to the remains of her family; her heart and soul.

ROI (or Is your marketing investment paying you back?)

After last months Building the Buzz challenge, I hope you have dozens of marketing ideas floating around in that writerly head of yours. Now the question is, which ones are you going to pursue? With unlimited funds and time, you could do it all. In the world I like to call "reality" you'll have to pick and choose which ones you'll use. So how to you decide which path is right for you?

The first step I recommend is to identify your strengths and what you are comfortable with. But be careful here. You don't want to ignore a great idea because it would force you to go above your current comfort level.

After you evaluate what you would be best at, you'll probably still have a long list of possibilities. This is where you want to take a hard look at ROI. ROI is a marketing industry term for Return On Investment. Basically, you are determining what you can realistically expect to earn or recoup for the investment.
 Is your marketing investment paying you back? Tweet This!
 Let's take a look at an example. If you had unlimited funds to promote your book, the biggest advertising event of the year is still the Super Bowl. The going rate for a 30 second commercial during the most viewed event of the year is around $4million. This doesn't count the actual production of the commercial which wouldn't be cheap. But hey, you've got unlimited funds, so this is a great idea, right?

Wrong. Unless your book is about how football fans can earn lifetime season tickets you probably aren't hitting your target audience. If you don't hit your audience, you won't earn back your investment (or even come close).

But your investment isn't just the money you fork over. It's also the time you invest in your marketing efforts. There are tons of free ways to promote your book, but not all of them will work for each book. You need to be aware that your time as a writer is a very valuable commodity.
  Your marketing effort isn't just the money you fork over. Tweet This!
 When calculating investment of time, decide how much you'd be willing to pay someone else for the work you are doing. Let's say for example that you are designing your own blog tour banner ad. Even if you are doing this at a $0 cost, you are investing time. When calculating ROI, the investment cost would be whatever you are willing to pay someone else to do that work. You can also assign yourself an hourly "wage" for marketing efforts and calculate your time investment cost that way.

So how do you know if you're getting a good ROI? Like most things in publishing, the exact numbers are going to vary writer to writer and project to project. That said, a good starting point is 3:1. This means that you earn back $3 for every $1 spent. 

No matter how you decide to calculate ROI, it's important to make sure you are putting your time and money toward the efforts that give you the biggest bang. This is also a great way to review what to change and what to keep for your next book.

I'd love to hear from you. Have you looked at your ROI before? How do you decide if your marketing effort is worth it? Share your best tips and tricks in the comments!

Agency Lessons: I'd love to read for a living

Once upon a time, a young(ish) lady dreamed of being a literary agent. "How cool would it be to read books for a living," she told the fairy while brushing her pet unicorn. And then she woke up.

Ha, who has time to read? Although, in reality, I do have to read in the genres I represent or how else will I know what's out there. This was brought home by a post yesterday over on Query Shark. I love Janet Reid. She tells it like it is. Here's what she said in a query critique comment:

Remember, I'm not sitting on my sofa with a cup of tea, savoring your query. I'm not reading this like I read a novel. I'm sitting at my desk, I've got ten minutes before a scheduled phone call and I’m trying to find the queries that entice me to read on. In other words, I'm reading fast and mostly skimming. Whether you think this is a good idea, or fair is immaterial. It's reality and  a smart query writer will write to his/her audience.

The part that really stood out to me is the last two lines. I wish I had a nickle for every writer who's ever said, "If you would just keep reading, it gets really good on page fifteen." If I did, I might be rich, but I'm still not sticking around until page 15 if pages 1-14 didn't capture my attention.

In order to get through the sheer quantity of material that comes my way, I have to skim. I have to browse; I have to read for the standout. It might not be fair, but unless writers are willing to wait 12 months to hear back on every query letter, it is the reality. But this isn't supposed to be a "whoa is me, I'm so busy" kind of post. It's about you.

So what does this mean for the querying writer? Every part of your submission package has to sparkle and shine. Every. Single. Part. It's not good enough to have a so-so query that leads into an amazing first page. Or an okay first page that sets the stage for a stellar first five.  If the query isn't rock star quality, the agent you query probably isn't reading the first five pages, even if they were requested as part of the submission. 

That's a lot of pressure. Trust me, I get it. I've been at hair pulling levels of stress over a single line in my query letter writing history. It sucks, but there's nothing you can do about it other than writing an amazing query letter for a truly spectacular novel. Easy, right?

Choosing your own Blog Hop

Today, I'm excited to have Eliza Tilton on the blog. You may remember her Choose Your Own Adventure blog hop tour in May. She's back today to talk about how she came up with the idea and what exactly went into such a huge undertaking.

Welcome, Eliza!

First, I’d like to thank Sarah for having me stop by AND for being part of the blog hop.

I got the idea for a Choose Your Own Adventure blog hop from an article written by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi called CreativeBook Launches That Command Attention The article talks about what you can do to stand out. Every day there’s another blog tour or book release happening, if you want people to notice, do something different. These lovely ladies made it seem so simple.



For me, I sat and thought about what I like: video games and books. Then I sat, ate a cookie, and thought some more.

I always wanted to write a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. I LOVED them as a kid. They’re probably the reason I love RPG’s aka role playing games. But how could I take that and turn into a blog hop?



When I told my husband about my idea to do a CYOA blog hop, he thought it was genius. I wasn’t so sure. Writing a CYOA? Can I really do that?

In order for the hop to go smoothly I had to have a certain number of dedicated bloggers. Reaching out to my writer friends took guts. Some were critique partners and some were authors/writers/bloggers that I chatted with online. I drafted an email with all the details and asked them if they were interested.

In about two hours I had 16 yes’s.

I was floored. Sixteen might not sound like a lot, but it was to me. I knew I would need a few more, but I had enough to write the story and adjust if I needed.



I’m that girl who plays a video game and gets pissed when I have to play a boy character. I knew I had to make two different paths, which just made my job a lot harder.

Here’s what happened next.

·         Create a concept

·         Write bubble outline

·         Decide on how many different story branches I want

·         Connect the story branches from the girl and boy path that are the same

·         Start writing

·         Write one story branch at a time and go back

·         Realize the CYOA story has to makes sense and start world building

·         Draw a really big bubble outline with lots of arrows and numbers

·         Finish story branches and edit

·         Send to critique partners

·         Convince the husband to draw images to go with my story

·         Get crits back and edit again

·         Print it out and check every single path—I went through a lot of paper

·         Make a number outline and double check all story paths are working

·         Get artwork from husband and his students and edit in Photoshop

·         Contact all bloggers with an update

·         Create an excel sheet with the page numbers, blog hosts, their story paths and connecting blogs—insert all hyperlinks—and giveaways

Here’s a picture of the excel sheet:


·         Create individual posts for each blogger with their story, artwork, all links and my author and book info.

·         Remind all bloggers to schedule the post at the same time

·         Cross my fingers, say a prayer and drink a big glass of wine

·         Once all the posts are live, send each blogger an update with their story choice direct links

·         Send tons of thanks and virtual hugs

The blog hop was a success and everyone had a ton of fun. There was a point in the beginning when I didn’t think I could do it, but I ignored that voice of doubt and CONVINCED myself I could.

Now that the hop is over, I have it set to a page on my website. One of my friends says she still gets views on her post and it’s the most visited post on her blog.  
It doesn’t matter what your hop is about, make it fun and make it you. Don’t be afraid to get crazy and DON’T let that pesky self-doubt stop you.

And I’ll share another secret with you.

One of the characters I created strictly for the hop made an impression on me and now he’s in BROKEN FOREST Book 2.  Who would’ve thought!