Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Finding an Author's Books

It can be confusing to authors to keep track of the many places that sell their books. In a way it's like an abundance of riches, except instead of a question like "what to eat first?" we ask "what should I promote first?" or most often, or whatever.

If it's confusing for authors, imagine what it can be like for a reader. There is the basic decision assistance tool--the library. But they may not have a copy (paper or ebook) when you want it or it may be a book you want to buy. If you buy books to keep forever, hardbacks or paperbacks are often the choice. As one who moves a lot, I lean toward ebooks when I buy. When I want to hold paper, I go to the library, which is often.

I have a Kindle Fire and a Nook HD, so there is an additional choice of the format for ebooks I buy. The Kindle is smaller, but the Nook HD (for all its larger size) is much lighter and the on-screen keyboard is larger. That's important when I travel and want to access the Internet on my ereader.  However, I sell way more books on Kindle than Nook, so I usually buy more for the Kindle.

Back to author marketing. The online sites I push are Amazon, Barnes and Noble (BN), Kobo, and Smashwords. Kobo is big in the Canadian market, and Smashwords translates a book into all ebook formats. That's a big plus for authors. You can download for any device, including in a pdf or text file if you read on the computer. (This is me being crafty. Each link in this paragraph is for a different book.)

Readers seem less aware of Smashwords than authors are. Smashwords loads books to all sites except Amazon. However, they format books in a mobi file (for Kindle), so you can buy books for Kindle there. Smashwords is a way to put my books on itunes (iPad, iPod) and smaller sales sites, such as Kobo or Sony. I load them to Amazon and Barnes and Noble myself. An author earns more and is paid faster by selling directly through a site. Still, I bow to Smashwords. What a concept.

I have recently learned that Amazon's Kindle Boards creates a page for each of your books, and that page has a link to all of the Amazon sites. That means a reader can go to one spot to link to a book in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, Mexico, and on and on. This has become an important marketing tool for me.

Appraisal for Murder http://www.kboards.com/book/?asin=B005PJM8WO
When the Carny Comes to Town  http://www.kboards.com/book/?asin=B0079SJC78
Jolie & Scoobie HS Misadventures  http://www.kboards.com/book/?asin=B00F6JACWQ
Orr, Campbell, Shirley [and more] history http://www.kboards.com/book/?asin=1490986030 

You can see a pattern in the web addresses. The only variation is the book's unique Amazon number (the ASIN number).  It's worth becoming a KB Boards member just to be able to do this. There are also a number of options for interacting with other writers and readers, and a couple of boards for promoting books.

There is an element of choice is the KB Boards' profile for your book.  The profile can also list other places to buy the book besides Amazon. Those links you have to list yourself. There are decent instructions in the help menus, or you can post a question on one of the boards.

I do maintain my own comprehensive list of where to buy my books, and that's on this blog, on the tab entitled Links to All My Books. It helps me keep track as much as it helps readers.

The most passive way I market to all sites that sell the books is via Twitter. A tweet can contain one link, and it can be to any site. You target the tweet with a hashtag such as #nook, #kindlebooks, #kobo, #smashwords.  Or any of thousand other choices. The link in the tweet simply has to coordinate with the hashtag.

It would be tempting to do only online marketing. I ask to do guest posts at others' blogs, pay small amounts to "boost" posts on Facebook, promote this blog, and do dozens of other things. Even if most books solds are on the Internet, it's still really important to do more personal (and time consuming) face-to-face marketing.  I do talks at libraries, visit book stores, and join local author groups. When you visit, it's important to leave something (yes, a piece of paper) behind. The photo here is an early postcard I did to promote the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series.

In February I'll do my first radio interview with a station in Osage Beach, Missouri. Why? Although I don't live in that state I have Missouri family links and belong to an author's group in Lawrence County. That may help a new group of readers find my books.

It's an author's job to make it easy for readers to find their books. It's also important to keep writing new books, and marketing takes away from that. Gee, a balancing act. That's what makes all aspects of life manageable.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Milestones Matter

Today would have been my mother's (Rita Rooney Orr's) 92nd birthday. She died in late 1998, and given that many doctors thought she would die in the 1960s, just being around that long was quite an accomplishment. Living that long with a strong sense of purpose and good sense of humor was an even greater feat.

Her survival (after a 1965 stroke and rapidly progressing multiple sclerosis) was such an achievement that on January 31, 1985 we had an anniversary party, complete with a cake that read, "To Rita--Celebrating Life for 20 years."

Catherine Ellett, Emily Carlin, Rita Orr
Doctors and nurses helped her get to the point that she could leave the hospital, but Rita was around for those twenty years because of the support of family and friends, and we invited several to the party. I don't remember where my aunt and uncle (Marguerite and Clarence Harlowe) were the day of the party, but the two women shown are Catherine Ellett and Emily Carlin.  I can still see my aunt helping my mother get into the car to get her weekly blood test (she was on blood thinners), and still taste the bologna and mustard sandwiches Mrs. Ellett placed in our freezer so I didn't have to pack school lunches for younger siblings. Until that time I did not eat mustard.
Miles Orr serves ice cream at the party.

Mrs. Carlin, our across-the-street neighbor and nurse, was in our house every day for maybe months. Her encouragement and care helped Rita get over many hurdles. And of course Miles Orr, our dad. He had always done more household chores than most husbands of that era, and improvised as needed. You have not lived until you taste spaghetti sauce with kidney beans.

It was day-to-day humor that pulled our family together as a team that focused on progress rather than despair. My sister had a three-foot tall doll that was supposed to be able to walk next to a child. The doll had a ribbon that said, "I walk when you hold my left hand." Dad had that on the wall above mom's head almost as soon as she was home from the hospital. And she did walk again unaided for a couple of years.

We take note of milestones such as graduations, birthdays, and fiftieth wedding anniversaries. Sometimes our greatest accomplishments have to do with handling really tough challenges with grace and courage. Not everything needs a party, but it's worth celebrating meaningful events, even if that celebration is a wink in the mirror. Take heart and keep plugging away.