I have forever been haunted by luxury tourism in impoverished nations. Quite a few years ago I wrote a poem about the uncomfortable contrast between lavish resorts and their surrounding poverty, which I first encountered in the Caribbean. It's a poem that has evoked angry, defensive critiques from certain travelers - which means I hit the right nerve.
Today, I am proud to have it finally published in Issue 24 of Liquid Imagination, along with a stunning illustration by Sue Babcock.
You can read it here!
Get your fix of post-apocalyptic fiction and dystopian landscapes! Follow Riley as she navigates a world where women are an endangered species, a wanted commodity, and a subject of scientific research. Don't miss your opportunity to read THE BREEDERS for free!
Katie French is a friend, writing buddy and business partner. She is also a best-selling author on Amazon. I am excited to announce that THE BREEDERS 3 is now available, and I am proud to have been able to help with some of the early editing stages. If you haven't read any of this best-selling series, I highly suggest that you download THE BREEDERS 1 to your Kindle. And why not? It's free!
Boscombe Revolution is a poetry and flash fiction anthology that embraces different revolution-centric themes in each issue. It is published by Hesterglock Press, a small press based out of Bristol in the UK. They look for "angry, funny, experimental, collaboration(al)…" work.
Boscombe Revolution, Issue 3: Revolution and Gender, will feature a piece of flash fiction I wrote called "In it Together." Other authors include Sarer Scotthorne, Markie Burnhope, Rose Drew, Linda Mannheim, Agnes Davis, Julia Boore, Myriam Lee, Kevin Reid, Kyra Hanson, Emma Lee, Dom Schwab, Lucy Humphreys, Barbara Donne, Lucy Furlong, Gary Budden, Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi, and Sasha Kasoff. I'm honored to be a part of this collaboration!
It will be published in early 2015, but you can pre-order now!
Doesn't it just tickle your tongue
We splurge on senseless smacking clacking
All the while minds are racking
Talking, joking, fibbing, passing
Delicate, intricate interactions
Split this world into factions
You can call it fact or fiction
Exquisite space which we all live in:
Wayward world of tactless diction
The other day, I discovered that yet another one of my short stories was accepted and published at Every Day Fiction! It's called "Overexposed" and I should warn you, be prepared for some graphic images... and hopefully a giggle, but mostly just general awkwardness.
So far, it's remained on the list of "Top Ten Stories in the Last 30 Days" and if I can just get a few more votes I might be able to solidify a spot among the "Top 10 Stories This Year." So, if you like it, show your love with a star rating!
You can read it here!
Despite my love of words, I fear it is impossible to truly capture life at sea. I could explain the sounds: the rumbling engine, the rattling needleguns, the puff of blowholes. I could explain the smells: the turpentine, the sewage, the fresh-cooked dinner. I could explain the sights: the blue horizon, the ominous skies, the sunsets, the stars. I could explain the feel: the vibration of the engine, the rocking of the ship. I could explain the people: the excitement of new crew, the confidence of old-timers.
Hell, I could document every second I’ve spent at sea, but it wouldn’t do any good.
Because to understand life at sea, you have to feel time stop while the world keeps turning. You have to write home and pray for responses. You have to juggle boredom with panic and excitement. You have to call the dock of a foreign port 'home.' You have to gaze at the horizon while you breathe salt air and diesel fumes. You have to become part of the living, breathing organism that sustains you, tortures you and satisfies you, all the while holding you prisoner…
In order to understand life at sea, you have to live it.
Originally posted on Underground Book Reviews.
So long as there is wind there will be sails
So long as there are sails there will be sailors
And as sailors fade and age
New sailors find their way
To learn from their mistakes
And make the same ones
So long as sailors sail there will be port calls
So long as ships are in there will be bar brawls
Until the sailors crawl back home
And find themselves alone
So they ship out once again
Even the sane ones
So long as ships arrive they will be leaving
So long as ships depart hearts will be breaking
For sailors sail away
We are married to the waves
And so long as there is wind
We will be sailing
Back in Boston, I took a Grub Street course called Ten Weeks, Ten Stories, and it was everything I hoped it would be. I came out with ten short stories, and have been shopping them around ever since. The first of them has been picked up at Every Day Fiction, it's about a criminal on the loose but it's listed under 'parenting.' Not my decision, but I'm kind of tickled by it. If you'd like to take a peek, you can read it here.
Months after my first line-up of promotional ideas and options (Blog Tours: A Comparison, Part I), I've come out of the fray with less money and more books sold, and here's the rundown of what was worth it and what wasn't. I'm keeping track of all these successes and failures to help myself learn marketing tactics. Since it's blog posts like these that have helped me formulate my marketing strategy in the first place, I figure I should share it with the rest of the indie author community. Here's what I tried, not limited to blog tours, and how it all worked out. If you've got marketing tips to share, please leave a comment!
Successful marketing attempts, from most to least effective:
#1: Bargain Kindle Books (corresponding with a 99 cent sale)
This was a huge success! Bargain Kindle Books lists ebooks that are on sale, and sends the list out to a whole bunch of avid readers. You have to apply, and get accepted, so there's some selection, which is good. The day the book was listed, it climbed to #9 in the paid Kindle store for comedies. The next day, it crept up to #4, and remained in the top #20 for another few days.
COST-BENEFIT: I'll pay 25% of my royalties on all the purchases made while my book is listed, which ends up being just under 9 cents per book sold. In theory, I won't lose money on this, but since I'm dealing with a third party (my publisher) I won't know for sure until I see a royalty check, and compare it with my bill.
#2: In-person readings, talks and signings (especially readings that involved other authors as well)
It took a lot of pavement-pounding to get my first two readings (probably visited over 20 bookstores in Boston). But once I got some exposure, fellow authors and community members got wind that I did events and I started getting invited. I sold some books at these events, but nothing astronomical... at the worst I sold 1 copy, at the best I sold 9. But the turnout was especially good when I cross-pollinated with other authors, and I got some press surrounding the events. The events and corresponding press appear to have boosted sales in surrounding areas. The end result means more paperback books floating around people's living rooms, the back of cars, and private bathrooms. All good things.
COST-BENEFIT: I most definitely didn't make any money selling books, and if you include gas and time spent and food purchased, it was a bit of a charity case. But it was worth every penny (and every second) to meet the people, and talk books with avid readers and other writers. And now I can tell people I read at the Harvard Coop!
#3: Ebook sale for 99 cents
Sales certainly spiked when the book was first sold in the Kindle store for 99 cents. If I could have, I would have given it away for free for a week or so, just to get the word out.
COST-BENEFIT: Sure, I won't make as much money on each sale. No, I don't care. Yes, it will benefit me in the end.
#4: Reviews, interviews and articles
It was a lot of work at first, getting reviews lined up... but then after the book came out I found that there were plenty of opportunities to do interviews on friends's blogs, and as the word got out, people started to approach me. Some of these articles seemed to help spike sales, others fell flat... but either way, the more exposure the better, and now I have a little collection of links to post here on my website, which makes me kind of look like a legit author.
COST-BENEFIT: Free, and totally worth the time... if you have it.
#5: Goodreads giveaways
These are totally worth it for me, because my publisher is willing to send a book to the winner. I got one Goodreads review after about 6 giveaways, and lots of to-reads, but that's about it.
COST-BENEFIT: I don't know if it would be worth it if I had to pay for the book myself, but as long as my publisher pays for it, I'm game.
#6: Blog Tour: Goddessfish
I did three blog tours and wasn't too impressed with any of them. The only tour that seemed legit was Goddessfish, which I wrote off at first because it's geared towards romance and erotica. But the people were professional, and the bloggers posted on time. On the less-positive side, the reviews were short, and nestled under a bunch of blog tour nonsense: the Goddessfish logo, my synopsis, bio and an excerpt. I'd have rathered a review, with links, and nothing more. It seemed kind of kitchy, but I guess I got what I paid for.
COST-BENEFIT: I think it was worth $50 for five reviews, most of which showed a spike in sales. And, it was fun to read people's thoughts on my book.
#6: Facebook ads
I put up a targeted ad for my Facebook page dedicated to The Atheist's Prayer, and enjoyed watching the book get over 300 likes. It wasn't cheap, and I didn't see a spike in sales. But now my page is more legit, and I have a host of people who see my Facebook posts, and might slowly gain fans from it.
COST-BENEFIT: I ended up spending about $120, which Facebook claims is just over 50 cents per like. That's expensive, and I didn't see a spike in sales. Will I do it again? Not for The Atheist's Prayer, but maybe I'd do it again to boost the release of my theoretical 'next' book.
#7: Blog Tour: Novel Publicity
This was set up by my publisher at no cost to me, which is awesome. I saw a spike in sales after some of the reviews. Sweet. I expected a lot out of Novel Publicity, because their website is stellar and professional. To my surprise, this tour was less professional than the Goddessfish tour. I don't think a single blogger posted their review on time, and four of them decided not to review at all. As with Goddessfish, the actual review was often hidden underneath a bunch of fluff. I think one review was only a sentence long.
COST-BENEFIT: For me, the tour was free and totally worth it. I would NOT, however, pay a whopping $1,000 for their 'traditional' tour, which promises 20 reviews (that's $50 per review, compared to Goddessfish at $10 per review).
Disqualified: Attempts that failed miserably
Book Club Reading List
After doing a helluva lot of research on blog tours, I got a hair up my butt and decided, on a whim, to sign up for something I'd never heard of before, with basically no research on the legitimacy of the program. Basically, the Book Club Reading List is what it sounds like: a newsletter that connects authors with book clubs. The idea is great- you say something about yourself and your location/availability so that interested book clubs, after reading your book, can contact you and have a meet-the-author session (in person or via Skype). That's cool, right? Thing is, I've gotten nothing out of it, no spikes in sales, no emails, nothing. Something might come through eventually, but I'm skeptical. Lesson learned: I should research better.
STUPID TAX: $150
Reading Addiction Blog Tours
I knew, signing up for this, that it was a waste, but the price (less than $6 per review) sucked me in. The blogs were of a similar low quality as the Goddessfish and Novel Publicity tours, but I didn't see any spikes in sales. I still enjoyed the reviews, though, so I guess it wasn't all bad.
STUPID TAX: $34
On Blog tours in General
Since this started as a series on blog tours, I feel like I should wrap up with my opinion on the much-debated and generally looked-down-on concept of paying for your book to get tossed around the blogosphere.
My overall take: Blog tours are worth it for your first book, not necessarily legit or cost-effective
Hey, now I have at least three times as many reviews, google results, and plenty of exposure across the world wide web, so I'm not complaining. As an unknown author, it's hard to get your name out; I have no shame in pushing it there. Sure, the tour hosts were often kitchy and sometimes sketchy. But I could tell by the reviews that most (maybe not all) of them actually read the book, and I enjoyed hearing what they had to say. Also, they are real people, with real friends. Perhaps their blog doesn't have a following, and is unprofessional and not to my taste, but maybe they will help me out with word of mouth. More reviews = more exposure, and exposure is more valuable than gold for a new indie author. Also, now I have blogger contacts for my next book. In the future, I might do Goddessfish again right around the release date of a new book, to spike sales and feel good about myself in the beginning. But first, I've got to start writing that book!