3 Top Tips, books, Her Royal Risk, His Majesty's Secret Passion, Leena Hyatt, marketing, Nas Dean, selling, Valentine's Day

How To Succeed with Blog Tours: Three Top Tips

Available from http://bit.ly/1ujX5zc

1. Decide what you want to get out of the experience: selling tons of books would be ideal, of course, but it doesn’t always happen. You also run the risk of overexposure if you’re a one-trick pony (see Tip 3, below). Concentrate on building and strengthening your on-line networks. Open a spreadsheet, and log the details of your number of followers, comments, and other details before you start. Make sure you provide the entertainment and information your followers are looking for in your pieces. If the totals on your spreadsheet increase after your blog tour, that leads to more satisfaction in the long-term than a temporary blip in downloads. You may never know whether a purchased copy of your book was read, but it takes positive, measurable action for a blog reader to sign up for your newsletter, or “like” your author page.

2. Get someone else to handle to admin. I work with Nas Dean, although other on-line assistance companies are available. Compare several before deciding which one to use. I’ve found Nas offers great value for money and has lots of contacts, so you get plenty of opportunities for networking. This spreads the word about you, and your work. A good admin person will arrange dates, and supply an idea of the material your host is looking for. An administrator will also arrange giveaways and competitions. Don’t leave everything to them, though: when your blogs go live, visit the pages to make sure things are running smoothly, and reply to all comments.

Available from http://bit.ly/1GQPIIq

3. Hide Your Message, So They Go Seek: Mary Stuart wasn’t in the business of selling books, so she only had the phrase “Philip and Calais” engraved on her heart. The three words branded on an author’s every organ should be “buy my book” although you should keep it in mind, rather than out in plain sight. Shrinking violets don’t sell many stories, but avoid veering from no promotion at all to becoming the most shameless self-publicist since P.T. Barnum. Make sure your cover art and buy links are there on every piece you submit, but be careful to include more than simple advertising in the content of those blogs. You want to engage, entertain and maybe even inform your readers. My first book for The Wild Rose Press, His Majesty’s Secret Passion, came out at the beginning of February this year. On the 14th of every month, I have a regular blogspot with Leena Hyat’s Authorsoundrelations. Of course, this ties in nicely with Valentine’s Day. Rather than do a straight “Buy my Book!” with links, this year I provided hints and tips on keeping your Valentine’s Day flowers fresh for as long as possible (you can read that piece here).  The information came from my flower-growing life outside of writing. The tie-in with His Majesty’s Secret Passion was that my heroine Sara was given a beautiful bouquet by a mysterious stranger.

Blog tours involve a lot of writing, but they are good fun. I’ll be scheduling another one in a few weeks to promote Her Royal Risk, the next book in my Princes Of Kharova series.  Visit my author page here on Facebook to find out more details about what’s going on.

Creative Writing, Goodreads, literary agents, Nas Dean, RNA, Top Tips, Twitter, Weight of The Crown

Creative Writing: The Selling Business…

By Antonio Litterio

Once you’ve finished writing your book, it feels like the hard work’s over. Then you discover it’s only just beginning. Unless you’ve got a literary agent, you’ll have to come out from behind your keyboard and start selling–yourself, as well as your books. This is the toughest part for many authors. Most of us like to spend every spare moment shut away in our own little worlds. The bright lights of publicity are dazzling, but here are some great ways to cope:

1. Buddy Up: To be an author, you only need to put words down on a page, or up on a screen. Telling a story needs an audience. Actually selling a book needs readers willing to hand over good money. Start gently, with your friends and family. If they like your work, they shouldn’t take much persuading to set up a daisy-chain of sales by recommending your book to their friends. News spreads like ripples in a pond, on the Six Degrees of Separation principle. Make friends with your local librarian (see the next point!) as they’re often keen to give publicity to local writers. Join groups such as the  Romantic Novelists’ Association, whose members are keen readers as well as writers. They’re a fund of useful advice when it comes to book-selling opportunities. Go online where the readers are, too, on sites such as GoodreadsTwitter‘s a great way of networking but remember, the most important thing is actually to build friendships and find out what readers like, rather than go all-out to sell. The internet lacks the subtlety of face-to-face contact. Make sure you only include a sales pitch once in every dozen tweets or so. Make contacts, have fun, and see any effect on sales as a bonus.

2. Go Equipped: Never leave home without something you can hand out to people you meet. A picture tells a thousand  words, so get illustrated! If you don’t have a good local printer, you can pick up some great stuff online; bookmarks, flyers with your book’s cover on one side and a teasing quote on the other, and business cards. Make sure your contact details are on everything. If your book’s available in hardback or paperback form, carry a couple of autographed copies, too. Libraries are aways glad of donated books, and you can give them some bookmarks at the same time. It all helps to get your name recognised, and that’ll help widen the audience for your work.

3. Contract Out: This is where literary agents and virtual assistants can really save you time and stress. Ok, you have to pay for their time and expertise, but they spend their working days honing their specific skills. Wouldn’t you like to do the same with your craft? Employing someone to do all your non-writing work gives you more time to be creative. You can read more about the pros and cons of literary agents here. I did a blog tour with Nas Dean for The Weight of The Crown, and it was an easy, fun way to connect with readers. While Nas did all the organisation and paperwork, I dropped in at every blog to answer questions, and reply to comments from readers. It was great–the dates, scheduling, formats, information spreadsheets and prize draw admin was handled by Nas, while I spent all my time doing what I love: writing, and chatting online with readers.

For more writing tips, visit my website by clicking here. You can sign up for my occasional newsletter by mailing me at christinahollis@hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk, putting “NEWSLETTER” in the subject line.   

Christina Hollis author, Nas Dean, Weight of The Crown

The Weight of the Crown Blog Tour Starts Here!

This is a very exciting week for me. My latest Modern Romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon, Weight of the Crown, is released in the UK. To celebrate, I’m starting a blog tour on 13th September. Lots of kind hosts have agreed to let me blog on their websites, and I’m really looking forward to it. If you’d like to follow me as I surf the cloud, here’s a list of dates and places:

   The Words Behind the Writer 14th Sep
   Ju Dimello-of Deams & Realities 19th Sep
   Christine Nolfi 28th Sep
   Seven Sassy Sisters 6th Oct
   Totes Bags ‘n’ Blogs 9th Oct
   The Character Depot 10th Oct
   Writing PlayGround 13th Oct
   Minxes of Romance 19th Oct
   Guest Post 20th Oct
   Kylie Griffin 24th Oct
   Sunday Smooch LoveCats 30th Oct
   The Book Bordello 8th Nov
   Totes Bags ‘n’ Blogs 13th Nov
   RomCon 14th Nov
   Romance University 18th Nov
   Romance Book Paradise 21st Nov
   Fresh Fiction 23rd Nov
   Bird’s Eye View 29th Nov
   Author Interview 8th Dec
   Totes Bags ‘n’ Blogs 11th Dec
   Seven Sassy Sisters 14th Dec
   Winner Announcement and Wrap-Up Party! 15th Dec

Those dates and places are correct at the time of posting this blog, but to be absolutely sure you can check an up-to-date listing anytime at http://www.rbpp-ch.blogspot.com/. The Weight of the Crown blog is masterminded by the incredible Nas Dean of Romance Book Paradise, who has done a wonderful job co-ordinating all the dates for me.

I love writing, and working on Weight of the Crown was a particular joy. It gave me a chance to do something a bit different. By setting Lysander and Alyssa’s story in the fictional country of Rosara, I was able to escape the gloomy English climate by imagining scenes like this…

The rising sun was already staining the Eastern sky with colours of pomegranate and peach. down in the gardens, nightingales still sang. Their music was a grace note for Alyssa’s perfect fantasy, and she relaxed into Lysander’s embrace. No woman had ever felt so adored. As she felt his kisses on her hair and looked out over the ageless scene she allowed herself to imagine being this happy forever…

Copyright Harlequin Mills and Boon Ltd, 2011

I hope you’ll be able to follow me over the course of my blog tour. There will be giveaways and spot prizes
at various sites and if you’ve got the stamina to comment on every single one of my guest blogs, your name will go into the final draw for my special Christmas stocking surprise, announced on 15th December. For further details, and the chance to enter my first competition in the series visit my website, http://www.christinahollis.com/
I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Christina Hollis author, Nas Dean, Virtual Blog Tours

Now It’s Your Turn!

Last time in my Focus On… spot, Nas Dean contributed an informative and interesting blog about Virtual Blog Tours. Thanks to all the readers who dropped by to post comments. I love hearing from you, so today’s blog is in the form of a question.
Who would you like to see featured in future Focus spots here on my blog? Lots of you agreed with me, that Nas’ post gives a real insight into the publicity aspect of writing. What would you like to get the low-down on? Who would you like to hear from? Let me know who or what you’d like to see in the spotlight, and I’ll do my best to get a Focus feature for for you.
Don’t forget the competition running on my website to win free books. The closing date is 21st August. Visit http://www.christinahollis.com for more details – and good luck!
Christina Hollis, Nas Dean, Virtual Book Promotions

Focus On…Virtual Book Promotions

Plotting, characterisation and computing skills aren’t the only things writers have to worry about these days. Today I’m welcoming Nas Dean, Romance Fan Supreme and head of Virtual Book Promotions, who’s there to take some of the stress out of our ‘after sales service’…

First I’d like to thank Christina, for asking me to share about Virtual Book Promotions.
Promoting an upcoming book is easy, do you say? The marketing department at your publishing house will handle it.  But you do know that the marketing department will be handling all six or sixty books releasing in that month? 
But who will give “YOU” the author, special attention you need for “YOUR” book to sell?
Okay you got the CALL! Yay! …You’re super excited! Then you receive your cover photo and release dates, now, can anything be more exciting? But does it stop there? No, your journey has just begun. Now you have to make your name stand out from the masses and sell copies of your book. You have to connect with readers everywhere around the world.
But you’re rushing along trying to meet the deadline for your subsequent books. You don’t want to be a one-book-wonder; you have to have your second and third books or for that matter your sixth and seventh books already in the pipe-line. 
How can you do promotions?
That is why I’m here! To start your promotion machinery rolling!
–  What can a virtual book tour do for a new or established author?
Book Tours bring you to the notice of readers. It actually helps to have your name and the title of your book talked about. You have to find the reader, rather than wait for them to find you. And when you do find them, you have to talk to your reader and keep him/her engaged. Book promotion is time consuming, expensive, and there are no guarantees that your efforts will bear fruit. But a lot of your labor can be cut in half if you focus on the reader and what S/HE needs. 
Think about yourself as a reader. You just finished a fantastic book from a new-to-you author and you decide to Google the author to learn more about her. When you reach her blog, all you find are advertisements for more books. It feels like a bit of letdown, doesn’t it? Now what if the author is out there visiting all your favorite haunts and inviting you to ask her questions? And doing giveaways of her book?
Talking to you, answering your individual comments and generally having fun, chatting with you. 
–  Does it work better for certain genres than others?
No, I would say it should work the same for all genres. It’s scary to put yourself out there because you don’t always know how you’ll be received, but if you’ve written the best book you can, all that’s left is to be the kind of author people want to know, Facebook friend you and chat with you through twitter. 
–  What are some things authors should keep in mind to have a successful tour?
Authors are rushing to meet the deadline for their second and third books; they can’t keep details about promoting their first book in mind, that’s why they come to me! (–_^) 
But seriously, they should have a media kit ready with all the pertinent information. This would include a mini bio, a full bio, decide on a author photo and include this(this is the photo out and about everywhere!) the book cover photos, links to your website, social networking sites eg. Facebook Page, Twitter. Goodreads.
And be available on the date of a Blog Stop to connect with a reader. And I’ll let you in on a secret for promoting. I advise authors to comment on many different blogs. Not a ‘hi, I like your site’ comment, but something personal and thoughtful. If you leave short and intriguing comments, people will follow you back. 
–  What blogs is it best to appear on?
High traffic blogs where your book would be appreciated! If it’s a romance novel, then obviously romance writer’s blogs would be good. Where romance readers mostly hangout. But I found all blogs have mostly adult visitors and people read romance so most blogs are suitable. 
And I talk to book bloggers and arrange:
• Reviews
• Interviews
• Guest posts
–  How long should a virtual tour take?
It depends on the author. If she can handle one week of five blog stops or five weeks of one stop a week. 
Recently when I promoted Wendy S Marcus, and her debut book, When One Night Isn’t Enough, we took on more than thirty stops but Wendy was game to agree. She also had a deadline to meet for her second book, Once a Good Girl. Though, Wendy scheduled some of these blog stops herself. And each and every stop had new and fresh, interesting posts. 
–  Do virtual tours replace brick-and-mortar book signings? Or should authors still be prepared to do some traveling and in-person meet and greets?
Virtual Tours actually don’t replace, rather enhance your promotional efforts. The brick-and-mortar book signings are in your immediate area or in your country, but the Virtual Tour is all over the globe. Wherever books are sold and readers know how to click a few buttons to get online.

Once an author signs a contract, it seems as if there’s more to do than ever! Are there any resources available that can help? If so, what is the typical fee?
Once an author signs a contract, I start with subtle promotions of her title. After I set up Blog visits and confirm dates with blog hostesses, I send the author a list of titles she may decide to talk about on her tour. We do want to keep readers interested by following her tour.  And decide if she would be doing giveaways. Wendy did a 2in1 Book giveaway on each stop. And at the end there was an Amazon gift card to be won for one person. 
Typical fee you looking at is US$150-180 for a ten/fifteen Blog Stop. But if you decide to hire me on as a Virtual Assistant then it’s extra. 
For Blog Stops the author sends me the post and I do all the linking, add photos and send it onto Blogs. Then at every stop I link to Facebook and Twitter to promote that Blog Visit. I have another Facebook Page Romance Book Paradise which is linked to twitter so I promote through that as well. I’m generally around for any hiccups or to encourage conversation. I’m like a chaperone, if you please!
Then I create an Author Page linked to Romance Book Paradise where I have all the details, reviews and buy links for your book on one page. Now for subsequent books you don’t have to hire me, just send me a book and I update that page for you with all relevant reviews linked!
As a Virtual Assistant, I keep track of your visitors/ commenter’s and winners by excel spreadsheet. I also have librarian status at Goodreads, LibraryThing where I can load book details and covers of different editions of your book. There are some other sites which have given me authority to add to their author list and add books on their site. So I add you onto these sites.  
What’s in it for Blog Hostesses?
I make sure all my fellow hostesses receive free books! 
And if the author on the blog tour is doing giveaways, the host blog also receives lot of traffic and her blog also becomes the favorite haunt of readers.

How did you get started working with authors on online tours?
Actually I did a degree majoring in Management and Marketing and some of my author friends noticed that I was good at promoting books (I have a passion for reading!) and approached me to take on their upcoming book release promotions. 
Recently I have also been approached to allow authors to display their upcoming book cover photos on the sidebar of my Blog, linked to their websites. The author concerned already paid another site US$25. for one month, she offered  the same to me to have her cover placed on my sidebar. She’s already booked for three months for 2012! She herself said, “You do have to pay the bills!” Romance Authors and writers are fantastic and very warm and considerate!
– Apart from Virtual Blog Tour, what is the single most important thing an author can do to promote her book?
Ah, yes, the author has to make sure of reviews….on reader sites as well as bookseller sites. As recently I came across this wonderful post from  a very knowledgeable person, Michelle Fayard, when she was asked about reviews, said,
I recommend authors get at least 10 reviews, each about 75 to 300 words long. According to Berrett-Koehler Publishers, customer reviews are the single most effective tool for selling books on Amazon, as they help potential customers decide if the title is a fit for them. If you ask your contacts to post a review on Amazon, ask if they’d mind posting the same review on Barnes and Noble and Goodreads as well, for example.” 
Check this post for more information as I found it to be extremely enlightening. Apart from Virtual Book Tours I also post reviews on more than ten different sites.
And for more information regarding Virtual Tours please visit Romance Book Paradise’s this link Why Book a Virtual Blog Tour? 
Thank you for inviting me to share about Virtual Book Tours, Christina, and if anyone has a question, I’ll try my best to answer.
Thank you for posting, Nas. It’s been a very interesting and informative blog, and I wish Virtual Book Promotions every success for the future!