I finally have a couple weeks off before the craziness starts again. I've had a busy December traveling from Melbourne to Daytona, the 'Villages' near Ocala and to Venice last weekend. I've mentioned going to events before and how important they are in getting noticed, raising your author platform and your brand. If readers don't know you exist how can they buy your books?
There is also an art to selling your books. There were about ten of us at the Venice Community Center December 15. Book sales ranged from 20 to 0.
What I noticed is that authors that have been selling a while have a spiel and patter down and they know how to attract readers.
I felt bad for the authors that did not sell anything. They are new and did not know how to engage the people walking past their table. One was knitting and the other was doing the crossword in the paper.
I love to help authors succeed and did try a bit to show them how to talk to passers by but I had my own books to sell. Next time we are together I will try to place them better and give them a bit more help.
We were all new authors once and have a lot to learn not only about the craft of writing but about the business of being an author.
Here are some of the authors at the Venice arts and Craft fair.
Remember to register for the Southwest Florida Writers Conference in Port charlotte in April 2019.
I'm always looking for the next best thing for my books. Last spring I decided to try audiobooks. A friend spent hours or should I say days recording Broken Branches - book one in the Green Lady Inn series. After trying to figure out the production end of it I gave up and went to ACX. They are part of Amazon. Isn't everything these days? I found out how really easy and not that expensive to produce an audiobook on Audible.
What amazed me was the terrific reviews that are on my Audible page for my book.
Here is one of the reviews.
"Normally I am not a listener of mystery novels, but this one sounded interesting so I gave it a try. Glad I did, it was so compelling I started and finished it within 24 hours. This story contains romance and mystery with a small supernatural twist in just the right proportions. Megan came to Salem to take care of her Grandma's affairs after her unfortunate death. While in Salem, she meets Mr. Right, discovers her family history, befriends several locals and finds herself trying to put the clues together to figure out who might have killed her Gram.
"The book was well-written, the mystery well plotted out and the characters were believable. The narrator did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life with just the right pacing and voices. Looking forward to listening to book number 2. "
It makes an authors heart sing to hear that someone liked there work.
After the success of my first audiobook I went on to Whispers in Time - Book two in the Green Lady Inn series. The reviews were amazing for the second book.
Another great review.
"Whispers in Time by Brenda M Spalding pulled me in from the very beginning. I so enjoy stories that have hidden things and ghosts. The author wrote this book with incredible imagery. I loved the mystery in the story, and how the old home was being renovated. The characters were also well developed. This book is the second in the series and a standalone listen. The narrator, Eliza Wethers did a great performance. She added to the book with her distinguishable voices for the various characters. I requested this review copy audiobook and have voluntarily written this review. I will definitely listen to more books by this author and narrator. "
I'm so happy that listeners are enjoying my books and the narrator I choose. My Narrator, Eliza Wethers, will be narrating and producing book three in the series, Hidden assets. It will be out in late spring.
I have just published book four in the series - The spell Box. I will look forward to making this an audiobook as well.
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It's finally here. I finished The Spell Box - Green Lady Inn Book four last week.
I had hoped to have it published in August to have it available for the 'season' down here in Florida but life got in the way.
So far it's only in paperback. I'll work on the Kindle version in another week or two.
I'm having my husband read it first to find any lingering problems. As I said in my last post the editing is crucial. It's taken me a while to not trust editors. They miss things too. My darling husband is a bigger control freak than I am and he will find any mistakes. I also want him to find any timeline problems. Since it's taken me over a year to write and with lots of starts and stops I want to be sure it flows correctly. I know my editor found two.
If you want to catch up on the strange happenings at the Green Lady Inn in Salem Massachusettes I have made the boxed set of book one, two, and three free for this coming weekend.
I will be away on the other coast in Melbourne for an event with the Authors for Authors group. Their annual book fair is November 17 - 18 at the Eau Gallie Civic center. It's a great way to meet other authors and do a bit of networking.
Thinking of networking if you are in Florida you shouldn't miss the Southwest Florida Writers conference. It will be held on April 13, 2019 at the Port Charlotte Cultural Center. I will be giving a workshop on social media marketing. I will also be available for one on one consultation that day.
I'm writing a new book just for the conference. It's working title is Gator. It's about alligator poaching. I've already killed a college student off in the first chapter. I wonder how many more I can kill off? I'm hoping to meet with an agent at the conference with my finger crossed that they will love it.
As always I'd love to hear from you. Ask a question or give me a review.
Editing for a self-published author is crucial in order to be taken seriously.
You need a professional editor. Someone who does it for a living not just your old English teacher or the neighbor next door.
My first novel, Broken Branches, was edited three times by three different editors. When my husband finally read it three years later he still found errors. In my novel Honey Tree Farm - for the Love of the Beekeeper's Daughter, he found thirty-eight errors. I had paid a friend who was also an author to edit it. Needless to say I never used her again.
I make all kinds of mistakes usually in spelling. I can even confuse spell check. I blame it on the fact that my mind is working faster than my fingers can type.
In my latest children's book, Hayden and Fred, I made an error in placing the text. On one of the pages I had to move the text a bit away from the edge of the page. I did that but forgot to move the text box down and cut off a word. My illustrator in Wisconsin noticed it after I sent her several copies to place in a store up there.
I rush to print, that is one of my great problems. As an author you need to slow down and make your book the very best it can be before you publish. It's a lesson I've learned the hard way and still have a problem with.
I was at an event when a customer pointed out an error in my very first children's book, Just Batty. I had spelled the same word two different ways in the same paragraph. I'd been selling the book for two years and not one person had told me or maybe no one noticed. It was my first book and so excited I didn't have it edited properly. Always order a proof copy and give it one last edit before you publish.
Not only is it good for you as an author but it helps all the other self-published authors out there.
For the past few months I have been running an experiment. I took three of my books, Blood Orange, Honey tree Farm, and Bottle Alley and listed them on Draft2Digital.
Draft2Digital publishes your eBook in most of the formats not just kindle. I promoted the heck out of these three books. I used social media, MailChimp and everyplace else I could think of.
I was really surprised by my results. I didn't do very well at all. Not nearly as well as I have done using the Kindle free promotions.
For anyone that doesn't know about the Kindle free promotions, here's how it works. You offer your Kindle free for any five days in a three month period. You are paid from the Kindle Global Fund for each page that is read.
In the month of September, I sold one book and my royalty was .37 cents. For the same month I promoted one of my books for free and received $18.32 before the free pages were added in. How did you get royalties on free book you ask? Readers who saw my free book also bought my other books. You can't do that with Draft2Digital.
I know it sounds crazy. Promotion and visibility is what sells books.
During the summer I also finished and published my fifth children's book in the Hayden series. Hayden and Fred is a simple look at how a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. It is available as a paperback and as a kindle. I'm rather proud of the Hayden series. It's written to help children explore their world and help endangered creatures.
I'm also almost finished with the fourth book in the amazing Green Lady Inn series. Hopefully that will be out before Christmas. I'm a little behind on all things. I had shoulder surgery this summer but I'm back to using all ten fingers now.
If you have questions about anything please leave a comment or contact me directly.
firstname.lastname@example.org I'd love to hear from you.
For the last couple weeks I have been fielding questions about Create Space shutting down and transferring to KDP direct publishing. Basically it's really very simple.
Create Space used to offer some extra services like editing and formatting that you could pay for. I know several authors that used those services and paid big bucks for it. I was able to use my networking and find those services for much less elsewhere.
I have been self-publishing since my first children's book in 2011.
In order to help my authors I needed to know how the new process with KDP Direct Publishing worked in comparison to Create Space.
My latest book, Hayden and Fred, was ready to go so I used that as my test to see how the new process worked on KDP. I can tell you it was so easy it was great.
You fill in the questions the same as Create Space and upload the PDF files. This is where it changed for the better. Before you can move on you have to use the previewer. It shows you exactly where you went wrong if you did and I did a bit. You correct the files and upload again until you get it right. Since you have basically already approved your book it is for sale on Amazon almost immediately, in about 24 hours. A lot quicker than if you have to wait three days to look at the digital proof, approve it and wait again for it to go live. I love the new streamlined process. You can order a proof copy if you want. I uploaded my files on Friday and my proof copy was in my hands on Monday and the book was already on Amazon.
The only drawback I see is for a novel or longer children's book. You must take the time to review your book cover to cover on the previewer before you approve it. But you can make corrections to your files and upload again even if it's already for sale on Amazon. The proof has not for resale written across the cover. I ordered two, one for me and one for my illustrator.
Then the question came about how do I transfer my previous titles to the new KDP site. Again easy. It's a three step process that took me less than five minutes.
I head from another author that was also very pleased with how smooth the transfer of titles was.
I'm working on book four in the Green Lady Series and will use KDP for that book as well.
If you have any questions or comments let me know.
I can tell you right now that it is not the authors that are profiting from self-published authors. Every day I get information in my email inbox about how to market, how to reach readers, do this on social media and listen to this podcast or take this course.
They all want your money. Believe me I've tried a few of them and it has not increased my sales one tiny bit.
Today I received a message about the changes that are coming to Create Space and how they are moving everything over to KDP Publishing. But guess what? They want to charge me $12 to listen to the podcast on Friday. It's not my fault they are changing so why should I have to pay to learn how they will handle my books?
This gets a little ridiculous when every time I turn around someone has a new theory on how I can improve my sales and they want to charge me for that information.
Every self-published author I know is struggling to get their book out there and to have people buy it and READ IT.
In my last post I talked about readers who store up all the free downloads from Kindle and never read the books. That drives me nuts. That's my rant for the day.
Please leave a comment or ask a question. I promise to not charge you for answering your question. All information is free here.
Oh by the way. I will be at the Barnes and Noble in Sarasota on Saturday morning with the Gulf Coast Sisters in Crime signing my books. IN the afternoon we are going to the Selby Library for a tea in honor of Agatha Christie's birthday. Should be loads of fun. Come by the B&N for a signed copy of my award-winning Honey Tree Farm - For the Love of the Beekeeper's Daughter or Blood Orange. Both books are set in the Myakka/Arcadia area of Florida and great reads.
Do you store the free Kindle downloads in your reader and forget about them? A great many readers do and that defeats the whole purpose of authors offering their books for free.
As authors we want people to read and enjoy our books and hopefully post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Authors are basically trying to make a few dollars from a product just like anyone else. They are paid Royalties on books and eBooks that are purchased but they get nothing from giving away eBooks that go unread sitting in your reader. The only way an author can be paid is from the pages that are read.
I hear so many times that people have hundreds of unread books in their devices. Do they ever think about the author that is waiting hear if you enjoyed their book. Even if a review is not posted, the author can see how many pages that have been read.
The same goes for free codes and giveaways. Authors offer these in exchange for reviews. We think our books are wonderful but need to know what others think of our efforts.
It takes a long time to write a book. It usually takes me a year or more to get a book ready to publish. When you put that much blood sweat and tears into something you want to know you've done a good job.
Collecting free Kindle downloads and not reading the book doesn't help an author one bit. If you are one of those collectors think about the authors out there and start reading your downloads.
One of the best things I've had happen is when I'm out at a book signing and someone who bought one of my books tells me how much they enjoyed it and buys the next one. That makes it all worthwhile. All an author wants to do is have his book enjoyed. Tell the authors about your experience and read those downloads.
, I finally received the codes for a free download of my new audiobook from Audible. I really had to chase them down. I love Audible but they work on their schedule not mine.
I have a few codes left for my first audiobook, Broken Branches. Authors give out freebies with the hope that the person receiving it will go on to write a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Authors live for reviews. How else are we going to know if our readers, or listeners liked their hard work. So far I have received one review for the audio version of Broken Branches. It was a pretty good review if I do say so myself. The story was very well received and only a little constructive criticism of the narrator. We will get better thanks to that review.
I have twenty-five codes to give away in exchange for a review of book two in the Green Lady series, Whispers in Time.
Now is a great time to try an audiobook. I'll be having book three in series, Hidden Assets, made into an audiobook before Christmas, fingers crossed.
By the way my children's book, Sailing Away to Nod, won a Silver medal in the Florida Authors and Publishers Presidents awards in Orlando this month.
Sailing Away to Nod would make a great Christmas present for a young child. What kid could resist a giant, a dwarf and princess. It's available in hardcover and as a Kindle.
Who knew young children would be using Kindles? I sure didn't.
If you have written a book and published in paperback you really should consider doing a Kindle as well. If you use KDP, which is part of Amazon ( isn't everything) you can sign up for kindle select and offer your kindle for free, up to five days in any three month period. I can hear you ask how does that benefit me? You will be paid for every page that is read from the Kindle Global fund which has millions to give to authors.
Free does work. It gets your name out there and your books read. I have a small following for my Green Lady Inn series. I'm working on book four now, The Spell Box. As always I just have to sit my butt in the chair and finish it. I'm three quarters of the way done on the first draft. You can read reviews of my books on Amazon. I hope they will tempt you to try one.
If you would like a code for book one, Broken Branches, or book two, Whispers in Time, please send me an email - email@example.com. I'd love to hear from you.
I'm a self-published author. I'm also a control freak and like to have a say in everything to do with my books and also want a bigger chunk of my royalty. I don't want to pay an agent 15% and a publishers another cut of my profits.
That said, I love to read books by other self-published authors. Recently I finished a series by Leslie S. Talley. Her series is the Clarice Campion/ Miss Letty Mysteries and they are a joy to read. The last in the series is in a castle in Scotland, The bonnie, Bonnie Bone
The books are about an innkeeper and her family who trade places with other innkeeper's all over the place. Every where they go they find dead bodies or skeletons and the hunt is on to find who done it. Her home inn is in Daytona FL. Her descriptions are lively and you can actually picture the setting in your mind. The books are a history lesson as she brings each setting to life. What I also enjoyed was that they are written in the first person and she has done a fantastic job. The books are filled with humor and the exchanges between the characters are wonderful. I found myself laughing and talking back to the pages. A must read for anyone that likes a great cozy mystery.
The other book I've been reading is Illusions of Paradise, by Pat McKanic. I'm having a hard time with this one. It's a bit slow and the formatting make it difficult to discern chapter breaks. It's set on the Island of San Saypaz', somewhere hot and beachy.
The main characters are a sexy female reporter and an even sexier detective. I just think it could have been tightened up and moved a bit faster. I put it down in favor of reading the Bonnie, Bonnie Bone by Leslie S. Talley.
Now to blow my own horn. My children's book, Sailing Away to Nod won a silver medal in the Florida Authors and Publishers Presidents awards this past weekend in Orlando.
As always I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or ask a question.
From the active mind of Brenda M. Spalding