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The Year of Living Authorly Post 10: The 25 Best Email Marketing Newsletter Aps

Right now I am deep in the throes of the fourth draft of The Pawn of Isis. What this basically means is it's pretty much Pawn of Isis and the podcast and work, although I am looking into newsletters and Facebook groups, and what not. Since I am in the preliminary stages of that research, I can't write a good post yet on that.

To start, though, here's a post by Matthew Guay called The 25 Best Email Marketing Newsletter Aps. Looks like a great resource for aspiring email marketers (marketeers?). Most of the buzz I've been getting from fellow authors suggests Mail Chimp is great unless you want a drip campaign. (What? You don't know what a drip campaign is? Okay, I don't know much either, but I'm learning).

Anyway, go read that, and I'll get back here with some real content...eventually...after I've poked at the Mail Chimp sight. I also plan to hypothesize what might be good content for a newsletter. Or I could just post some words from the new book. We'll see how it goes.

Back to needing two of me: one to work the job, one to write the books.

The Year of Living Authorly Post 9: ARCs and Reviews

Over at the SFWA blog, I read this article: Four Strategies to Gain Early Reviews for New Releases by Intisar Khanani. I found this article to be a really strong mix of pragmatic suggestions from self-publishing, combined with practical advice about newsletters, lists, and launch groups. Go take a look. It's really quite good.

Okay. Let's get Midwestern for a moment. For some people (raises hand), the idea of asking people to review your book seems a little uncomfortable. I cannot help but see the truth in getting people to review your book--good, bad, or a combination of the two--as an important strategy to creating buzz and attention around that book. Does it seem presumptuous to you? It does, but here's the thing. I wrote a book because I wanted to tell a story. Perhaps the time to have been shy was before the writing. Now, I suppose, I have this book. Did I believe in the story enough to write it? Yes. Do I believe in the story enough to want to share it? Yes.

So. Soon, I will be creating a mailing list just for ARCs and reviewers. I will be working on figuring out how to get many ARCs to a variety of people, and ways in which to encourage people who are kind enough to buy my book to review it. I am going to turn my book launch into a group event as much as one can. I will break these publicity pieces down as clearly as I can as soon as they happen. While I am on hold in generating physical support materials until my cover image is ready, this I can certainly do now.

So, look for information about book launch plans soon. I'm also going to research mailing lists and newsletters. I suppose also I should need a press kit, and I should get around to scheduling events. Right now, if you're an author or a reviewer, and you'd like an ARC and are willing to review, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be part of The Vessel of Ra launch experience, let me know. You have no idea how silly I feel saying The Vessel of Ra launch experience. 😀

The Year of Living Authorly: Post 7 Conventions–Promoting and Touring

A caveat regarding this post: This is one aspect about conventions that I've not been involved with until now. Some of promoting and touring can come down to doing a lot of what I've been talking about in other convention posts, like being on panels, and presenting a professional image, but the active promoting of a book? Well, this is where I am learning, just like you are.

With that in mind, let me tell you about some of the things that I have learned. Let's start with promotion. It is GREAT if you can have a giveaway for a convention that will remind people that your book exists, and that they might want to look it up to buy it. I've seen bookmarks, pens, pencils, cards, buttons, all manner of items. The most successful freebies I've received from authors go to Mary Robinette Kowal for her fans with card attached to advertise her historical fantasies, Jim C. Hines for his Jig the Goblin tattoos, and Ann Leckie for her spaceship lanyards. Swag should be cost effective (not too expensive), but memorable. So. I am currently looking into Egyptian swag, as The Vessel of Ra has a definite Egyptian vibe. It would perhaps also be good to go with something alchemical, or shadow-y. Here are some ideas that a casual search of the Internet has yielded.

Egyptian pencils
Team Drusus or Team Khun buttons or lanyards
Egyptian stickers
Egyptian tattoos
Egyptian beaded bookmarks

So, I will let you know whatever little thing I decide on. First, I'm waiting on my cover image, and then I will start planning.

***

Touring. Again, I'm in new territory. I think going to a convention can give you an opportunity to be in an area already, and if you're in a city, you might take some time before, during, or after the convention to visit a bookstore nearby. I will be playing with this as soon as the book comes out. For example, I could be in Minneapolis for a convention, and then make arrangements to have a Thursday night or a Sunday night signing with a local bookshop. Another idea I am playing with for summer of 2018 is a tour to several cities on one of the coasts. As I learn what are good tips to set this up, I will share.

***

Next time, I'll talk about touring. What have I heard about what works best? Stay tuned.

The Year of Living Authorly: Post 6 Conventions–Cost to Attend

As we continue our post on conventions, we would be remiss if we didn't include a budgeting post. And by we, I mean me. Sorry. I've been watching The Crown. But yes, unfortunately, it's not free lots of times when we invest in our writing. The good news is this: If you are a writer, these expenses are tax deductible against your business.

Occasionally, and especially if you become someone who is invited as a guest to a convention, or a speaker, you can get fees eliminated, if not have the whole con paid for. That said, most of the time as a beginning author, you will be paying the bill. It never hurts to ask if you can get assistance. The worst that can happen is someone will say no, and yes, you're used to that!!!

I always think it's worth it to check out the cons near you. You might be able to attend a local con for just the cost of the con. For example, I could attend Icon and commute back and forth from my home. That would mean that the cost of the con and the cost of food would make the con very cheap. I would do that if I weren't hosting a writing workshop, by the way.

So, let me break down a few costs, so you can take a look.

A Nearby Con that you can drive to: I drive to conventions in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Minneapolis, and Chicago, and potentially the range of cons I could drive to include Omaha, Kansas City, and St. Louis. It's vaguely about 50 cents or so for mile traveled in your car for reimbursement. Hotel, food, and the convention membership are the biggest expenses. Depending on the convention and the cost of the hotel, I might pay $500 for a 2-night/3-day inexpensive, nearby convention. I might pay $800 for a 3-night/4-day convention. Usually, this kind of con is a good investment. You can make this kind of con less expensive by staying at a friend's house, or sharing with a roommate, because hotel is usually the biggest expense.

Flying to a convention: The above convention price is pretty much the same, plus an air ticket. I live in Cedar Rapids, so some tickets might be more expensive for me than you, if you were catching a Southwest connection. In general, I pay around $400-$800 a ticket, depending on distance, access, and connections.

Ergo, the average convention will cost me

Transportation: Car or Airfare
Convention Membership
Hotel
Food

and run me about $500 for a very local affair when I stay at home all the up to about $1800 for a convention I fly to for a few days.

Are conventions worth it? Lots of opinions there. I would say yes, because you can introduce yourself in fandom and present yourself well. If you can pair the convention with some book signings, all the better. A little more bang for your buck and stretching of your travel dollar.

Next week: I will talk about conventions and promoting your book! Like I know so much about this...but I'm going to tell you what I've seen and what seems to work for other authors I know. Hint: having a unique give away seems to be key...

The Year of Living Authorly: Post 4 Conventions–Panels

Welcome to the 4th post of the Year of Living Authorly. This is the second post regarding conventions. Previous posts can be found here, and over at Unreliable Narrators. Eventually, I'll get all of these put on a page somewhere, and hopefully they can be of some use.

Last Friday, I burbled on about how much I liked conventions. Conventions are great for authors for a variety of reasons. You can connect with authors, agents, and editors. You can meet like-minded fans. You can create a good impression on people so they might buy your book (alas, the opposite is also true, so be careful out there. One of the ways authors can get involved in conventions is by being on panels.

How hard or easy is it to get on a panel at a convention? You have nothing to lose by visiting the website of a convention you are planning to visit and contacting the programming chair asking you how you can be of service. Usually, being on panels is a volunteer affair, which means you will pay. Occasionally, some cons have invited participants and are willing to waive your fee if you qualify. Those cons generally have instructions on their website and forms you might need to fill out. Remember that cons are often run by volunteers. Some cons will want to include you on programming, and some will be eerily silent. Take it all in stride.

If you've managed to contact programming, and have been assigned to a panel, here are some ideas that might help you.

Usually you're not alone. Usually there's a group of a few people who will speak to the topic with you. If you're very lucky, one of these people will be the moderator, who will control the flow of conversation between and among the panelists and the audience. Sometimes, cons are less formal, and panelists will moderate themselves.

If you can, prepare for the panel in advance. Many cons will give attendees each others email addresses, so people can discuss what individuals might cover. I've been on panels where I've gone in cold, and the panels have worked, but often preparation in advance means you can have handouts, or power points, or thought out conversation. Don't be afraid to be the first person to initiate contact if you need to be.

Many authors on panels will display their books around them like a little fortress. While it might be great to have some of your books for sale, many people feel that's a bit much. I feel that's more appropriate for a signing than a panel. Your mileage may vary. However, don't forget that the panel topic is not your books, even if your books exemplify what's being discussed. You can mention your books, but remember not to be a commercial for your books.

Try to think about speaking up. Don't dominate the panel. Don't be eclipsed. I always try to think that if I am one of a five person panel, I should probably say something about 20 percent of the time. Do your best to be clear while speaking. Always use a mike if you got one. This isn't about how loud you can speak. This is about helping people hear you. And yes, they really can't hear you in the back of the room. Treat your fellow panelists and your audience with respect.

Readings and signings aren't exactly panels, but they too are ways in which you can become more involved in a convention. A reading is exactly the place to generate interest in your work. I'll try to do a post on readings at some point this year. And signings? Well, there's some conventions around that too. But again, see if your con has such events, and ask if you can be involved.

Next up: Image. It isn't everything, but it is important.

Unreliable Links Through 2-17-17

While the rest of the Narrators paint the town red at Boskone this weekend, I'm at home finishing my book, checking papers and prepping a script for a training project. Even my husband is getting out of Dodge and going to visit his mother. I feel like a professor or something.

Anyway, for your enjoyment, what we've been up to at Unreliable Narrators the last couple of weeks.

Author Spotlight: Yoon Ha Lee

Author Spotlight: Stephen Blackmoore

Hitchcock

Unreliable Alumni on the 2016 Locus Recommended Reading List

Productivity at Any Cost?

Mission Accomplished