Tidying Up

So if you visit my site often, you may have noticed some major changes going on with the site. Not only has the side menu disappeared, but the menu is all different too. Here is why I made these changes and what’s been added.

We Have Incoming

I’ve got a lot of books about to be out soon. I have two physical books available now and next year will have both Broken and The Seeking published. That’s book 2 in the Stolen series and a brand new standalone novel. I’ve been posting on this site since 2009 or so, and just like at home, you can gather a lot of clutter on a website in 10 years time. My menu was starting to get pretty clunky and nested menus were starting to be hard to navigate on some devices.

My Maps and Trains of the 1880s post is still very popular, even though all the images were very broken. All fixed now!

Thank You, Cherie

So I went through and cleaned up a bunch of things. You’ll see a new Contact Info/Press Kit link that has not only my bios, but my email/PO box as well. I’ve also got author photos listed there along with hi-resolution photos of all the covers I’ve been published in. (Whew, there were a lot!) It’s probably pretty obvious why I had to make that, but basically I’ve been doing a bunch of shows, and it was starting to take too long to dig out my Word document to copy and paste when I could just link here. (It is SUPER similar to Cherie Priest’s Contact Info page because she is a goddess and I’ve looked up to her forever. So apologies, Cherie!)

For the Fans

I also realized that I have a ton of additional information I’ve been putting out for the Stolen series. About 6 months out I start posting weekly on Instagram with the #worldofstolen hashtag, and dole out little bites of information and peeks into what’s to come when release day hits. That’s a lot of worldbuilding that just gets lost in the ether if I don’t link it, so that’s what I did. There’s now a whole World of Stolen page that links to the hashtag on Instagram, gives my stance on fanart/fanfic, links to the original short story for Stolen, and even links to the release day video. When Broken comes out in April of next year, I’ll probably be adding even more to that page. For people who want to dig into the world after reading the book, it’s a gold mine of information.

Finally, I realized that I have a lot of channels specifically for readers and fans of my work that I don’t really explain. So that’s what the For Readers page does. It explains the difference between the Facebook group, the mailing list, and shows all of the different ways I can be reached. You’ll also notice I added a section to stub out pages for the World of Kanta and the World of Carra too. I don’t have anything yet for those places, but it’s coming.

The World of Carra is for The Seeking, and yes it is scheduled for Fall 2020. Really not that far away!

What’s Next

So you might still see a few tweaks around (like the new header image!) but generally I’m pretty pleased with this instance. When Broken‘s cover gets revealed later this month, you can expect to see the color palette change here and in my mailing list too.

Have you signed up for the Cover Reveal yet?

I’m super excited for all the new things coming this way, but I wanted to make sure the site was ready to handle it all.

I also wanted to give my followers and readers a heads up – these next two books are going to be intense.

I hope you’re buckled in!

Help An Author Out!

So you’ll probably see posts go up on a regular basis from authors talking about ways that you can help them out without necessarily having to spend money. There are plenty of tried and true ways to do it, such as requesting that your local library stock copies of your favorite author’s books, or telling all your friends about how much you enjoyed a book, or posting a review up on Amazon or even Youtube. Even just sharing their website or social media posts can help.

There are also lists that you can vote on too!

Right now I’ve got several of my books up on various Listopia lists, and if you have a Goodreads account (which is free to get if you don’t), you can vote on them! This makes my work more visible for other readers looking for new books to read, but it also might actually give my books a chance to get awards too!

How To Vote?

  • Login with your Goodreads account
  • Look for the book on the list. Sometimes you have to search for it on several pages if it’s a long list.
  • Click on the button for: Vote For This Book

Where Do I Vote?

  • Goodreads Choice Awards 2019 (eligible for write-in only) – So the only way indie authors can really get a chance on the Goodreads Choice Awards listing is if they can rally their fans to vote on their work. I’m happy to say that Stolen is now on this list! (Currently on page 6!)
  • YA Novels of 2020 – A listing of Young Adult novels releasing in 2020! You can find both Broken and The Seeking on this list. Currently both books are on Page 7, but that might change.
  • YA Releases of April, 2020 – YA books set to be released in April 2020! You can find Broken on this list. Fortunately it’s pretty short, so it shouldn’t be hard to find!
  • The Seeking is scheduled for Fall 2020, but doesn’t have a firm release date yet – but I’ll probably come back and add it once it gets confirmed!

While you’re voting on my books, I hope you’ll consider voting on my fellow Parliament House authors too. They’ve all had book releases this year, and I’ve had the honor of working alongside every one of these incredible authors in person.

  • Candace Robinson
  • Sarah Lampkin
  • Amber R. Duell
  • M. B. Dalto
  • Tracy Auerbach

Author Vending: The Importance of Signage [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

Dang the last four weeks have been rough. Between three back-to-back shows, a week-long vacation, and getting sick (twice now!), it’s been a difficult time lately. However I knew I wanted to get a new post up for my second time participating in the Author Toolbox Blog Hop.

If you want posts from authors dedicated to helping other authors, then be sure to check out this series! Posts go up each month (though November and December get skipped). As an author, I love being able to give back, and having a deadline to keep me motivated!

One of the first decisions I had to make when I started vending as an author was finding where to sell books and where to do signings. Once I had that figured out, I had the difficult decision of figuring out what to bring. That was a lot harder than I expected it to be, but I knew that signage was important.

Signage Can Be Small

It doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as a chalkboard sign, or as elaborate as a self-sending vertical banner. Having signage with you instantly signals to a visitor that an event is going on, and they’re likely going to read it to learn more.

When I had my first author signing event, it lasted two hours at an independent bookstore, and it poured down rain through half of it. I didn’t have a huge turnout, but I did have family and friends that showed up, and that was a big inspiration for me. The only signage I had was a sign we had made out of a dollar store plate and chalkboard paint that my sister drew out for me. It was super cute, but didn’t draw in people like I wanted.

My sister, Kelley, did an amazing job with the chalk art on this! We were prepping for my first signing at Story On The Square!

Larger Signage Gets Attention

Flash forward to our first outdoor festival, where we didn’t know how to have proper airflow with our tent and it was super hot. What brought people in was a giant vertical sign we secured onto the outside of the tent. People saw horror author and were super excited to check it out.

Our first outdoor festival: Geranium Festival! We just got done setting up at dawn. Featuring Kelley in the back!

Fast forward again to the Next Chapter Con a couple weeks back. People walked up to the table and read my author sign behind me. “YA Fantasy and Horror”, they would mumble to themselves. Then they’d look down at me and smile before asking, “Where’s the horror?” I could point them in the direction and let them read the back copy to decide if they were interested, talking about the book as they checked it out.

Got to break out both banners at Next Chapter Con a couple weeks back!

Banners Help Regardless of Genre

It’s important to know how to describe your work, and while at first I was reluctant to have an author banner that would represent both the fantasy and the horror that I write, in the long run it’s been very helpful in drawing in people. I found a way to make my author representation capture both aspects of my work, which I talk more about when I revamped my business cards.

When the banner is posted outside of our tent, folks will stop to read it, talking about the blurbs and the covers. When I walk up and introduce myself as the author, they get so excited!

The banner allows people to stop and talk about your work without you having to be part of the conversation. Let them decide if your work is interesting or not. And let your banner do the talking so you don’t have to do all the work.

When you’re vending as an author, use all the help you can get to portray your words without relying on solely your books. I think of signage as a menu for your books. You want to portray taste and composition before eating the meal itself.

One Full Calendar!

It’s over halfway through 2019, and my event calendar is filling up fast! From horror conventions to brand new author conventions, my sister and I (MorbidSmile) will be traveling quite a bit over the next few months. Even the next few weekends really.

I admit, sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with all the schedule changes, all the confirmations, all the travel plans that come up so quickly. However I try to always list out the events I’m attending on my Facebook Author Page. Just click on the Events tab on the left to see all the Facebook events for the festivals I’m planning to attend.

You can also see all my events coming up on my newly updated Appearances page!

Author Vending: Finding Events [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

Today’s post is part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, basically it’s a bunch of authors putting together helpful information for other authors. I was approached by Raimey a couple of weeks back because she noticed my tutorial videos, and thought I would want to join. This is obviously something I really enjoy doing, so I was happy to be part of their blog hop! You can find all the other posts for this month showing up over the next couple of days here.

When you first started out in the author business, if you’re anything like me, you had highly unrealistic expectations of what the book business was like. You assumed that author tours were these magical series of events where a publicist setup the locations and all the author had to do was show up, sign copies, and talk about books. That’s so far from the truth, it’s no wonder people get overwhelmed when they learn that much of this lands on the author’s shoulders to organize, stock, and attend.

My very first author signing at Story On The Square in April 2018.

As part of my ongoing Author Vending series, I’m talking about tips and tricks that up and coming authors can use as they attend festivals and shows to promote their books. There are a lot of steps that an author might find themselves struggling to figure out. I want this series to be a guidebook to those authors just getting their feet wet.

Whether you are an indie author or traditional, working with a small press or the big five, unless you’re a big name author, chances are you are going to be responsible for setting up your own book tour. The words book tour sound intense at first, but really you just have to think of it as a series of places where you’ll be doing readings and signings. It’s an opportunity for your friends and fans to see you and buy copies of your books. Even if you only do a couple a year, they can be huge promotional tool to get your name out there and to get people talking about your work.

The first major step is finding events to attend as a vendor. Ideally if you’re just starting out as an author, you’ll want to find a venue that has the following requirements:

  • Low cost – This may seem like a no-brainer, but this is essential for a first-time author vendor to choose their first events at places where they have the ability to break even. A $50 author booth, where you’re selling your books for $10-15 a piece is more likely to be successful rather than one with an initial cost of $100+.
  • Local – Try to find a venue that doesn’t require you to drive far. That not only makes it easier for you to get a return on investment, but means that if you get there and realize you forgot an essential piece of your setup, you can still run back without stressing out.
  • Not necessarily author focused – Sometimes if you’re the only author at an event, it helps you stand out. Your booth will attract the readers, and you’ll be surprised how often people will want to buy a copy for themselves but also one as a gift.
  • Support group – If you have a hard time talking about your books or your worlds or characters, don’t be ashamed to bring a friend or family member to help out. Ideally having someone in the booth who has also read your book and loved it will help to champion your work when you’re too nervous to do it yourself. The more you encounter these situations though, the easier it becomes to figure out how to describe your work.
A book signing from earlier this year, April 2019, at Book Warehouse.
I had so much more confidence (and book swag!)

So now that you have a good idea what to look for, how should you find events in your area?

  • Look for libraries and independent bookstores. Many indie bookstores will already be planning an author signing event, and libraries are always looking for more exciting events for readers of all ages.
  • Look for events you’ve attended before. Even if it’s a craft-focused show, you may be surprised at how well you do, especially if you’re familiar with the layout and guests.
  • If you’re struggling to find local events, or want to branch out, Facebook is a great place to start. Start an Author Business Page and make sure you list your hometown there. You may have festivals reach out to you to attend their show. Look around for events your friends are attending, or events a few months out. You’ll be surprised how quickly you find places looking for vendors.
  • If costs are still too high for you, see if you can find an author/artist/crafter who is willing to share a booth with you. You get less display space, but it’s much easier to break even with half the cost of the booth. This may help you get into some high traffic venues too like fan conventions.
  • When attending events, make sure you walk around and see what else is there. I’ve found a few author festivals that way. You’ll be surprised how often other authors will use those events to promote an author-specific event.
  • Join an authors group near you. I’m part of the Atlanta Chapter of the Horror Writers Association, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned in just the 1.5 years I’ve been part of the group. Some people have been doing this for decades longer than I have, and there is always more to learn.

I hope this helps you in finding that first event, and in getting the nuts and bolts down of what is required for it. Usually it’s just having the confidence the first time, and with each event afterwards it gets easier and easier.

Although online promotions can help really get your name out there, I’ve found that it still doesn’t beat a local event. You get the chance to talk about your work, to talk with fans, and to sign books in person. You ultimately are creating a unique experience for your fans, and even though at times they can be a lot of hot work, it’s totally worth it.