Reviewing December–Diary of a Debut Fiction Author

If you follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/RitterAmes or FaceBook  https://www.facebook.com/ritter.ames or subscribe to this blog (go ahead, it’s free, and I tell you about authors giving away free and discounted stuff when I learn about it), then you know that my first fiction novel COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACIES was released December 1, 2013. This isn’t going to be a sales pitch, I promise, but it is going to be kind of a recap on some of the things I learned about marketing a new novel.

FIRST: Everything every author says about having to spend as much or more time marketing your book is absolutely true. In the month of December I worked pretty much ten hour days because I had so many things to do all at the same time–and none of it involved Christmas tasks. I’d started building my name’s presence on FB this fall, but now I spent time each day posting and sharing other authors’ info because they were so good to post and share about my new release.

Reciprocating is everything, people. When a couple of authors needed book reviews fast to get up to the magic 10 reviews on Amazon, so they could attempt to get PR on any of the many daily newsletters on ebooks, I read and reviewed their books. One did the same for me. That author also became a great friend for sharing other PR info, and I shared with her. This is the best way to get the word out about a novel, folks. So reciprocate, even if it seems time-consuming, because it also helps you build a kind of PR posse to help keep you on track and act as a sounding board when if feels like too much time is spent for too little gain. Good profile shot of Tower Bridge

Yes, you will feel like you waste time, sometimes, but you have to keep going because you never know what will be the thing that gives you some much needed press you didn’t expect. I blogged a lot on London, for example, and used pics of our last trip there to give visuals to what I wrote.

counterfeit conspiracies giveawaysRight before the book launch, my publisher held a couple of weeks of contests to introduce all of us new authors, and bring out the latest releases of established authors signed with the line. I wrote a blog post for my book’s day for that contest to introduce readers to both me and my novel, and got a lot of new FB friends that way. I also gave away a handmade bracelet with charms that tied back to the places and events in the novel and a fun NanoBlock of Big Ben.

In the days following the launch I gave away a lot of books. I gave away review copies to get some buzz started just ahead of release, and after I sent ebook copies to bloggers who were interested in giving me an opportunity to post on their blogs. I sent print copies of books to people who helped in the writing and brainstorming process, and I gave away copies to some of my nonfiction writing clients to thank them for keeping me in food and utilities while I also pursued my fiction dreams after writing their contracted material each day.

I contacted bookstores and had a couple of great signings. I didn’t realize how good the first one was until I talked about it later. Besides spending a few hours getting to talk to good people and connect with good readers, I made a nice chunk of change that covered my travel expenses, too. I also connected with local schools, to volunteer to come in to talk about writing as a career, and was contacted by the local university after they’d heard about me. When I received the spring calendar for my local Vo-Tech, and noticed they were advertising for people to teach their craft, and also noticed there was nothing scheduled for mystery writing or freelance writing, I made a successful call there, too.

All the time I was doing all of this, I was 1) doing final edits/revisions from my editor on the first book in a second series that was originally due out at the end of January, 2) actually writing the sequel to the book mentioned in 1) that is also due by the end of January, and 3) writing and brainstorming snips and pieces, as well as researching locations and ideas for the sequel to Counterfeit Conspiracies, as said sequel manuscript is due mid-summer 2014. If you bought an ebook copy of Counterfeit Conspiracies you probably saw the first scene of that book added as a teaser at the end. It’s titled Marked Masters, and will take our favorite characters to a couple of places in Florida, more than a few in Italy, and also back to London. Fun to plan and research and write, but time consuming and not great on the focusing abilities when so many other things are on my to-do list at the same time.

As an after-Christmas deal, my publisher ran a special on eight books in the line–mine included–and I had a whole new marketing model to work from. Of course, the problem with all those daily “get this discounted book now” e-newsletters is that too many are already booked up way in advance. Still the kind people at ReadCheaply liked that my debut novel hit in the low 30s with readers in the International Mystery & Crime category (the book even went as close as 7700 from #1 Kindle Book–that’s really better than it might sound), so shoehorned me in for a spot on their Dec. 28th listing and newsletter.

Around the same time, I was lucky enough to gain a blog post opportunity from Dru Ann Love to do a Day in the Life twist on one of my secondary characters who doesn’t usually get her point-of-view heard in my novel  http://drusbookmusing.com/2013/12/24/cassie-dean/ . Blog posts are crucial to getting the message out about your book, and I can’t thank people like Dru Ann enough, as well as Lori’s Reading Corner http://www.lorisreadingcorner.com/?s=Counterfeit+Conspiracies , RP Dahlke’s  http://allmysteryenewsletter.com/ and an opportunity soon by Lori Caswell in her blog http://www.escapewithdollycas.com/ . These bloggers don’t just post blogs about the books, they also tweet on the novels and post on FB about the new reads. All that cross-posting is critical, and allows authors to share and retweet the information, too.

While I only had to write a blog post for Dru Ann, part of my marketing tasks each day was looking for blogs that already addressed the audience I expected would like Counterfeit Conspiracies. That can be tough if you don’t already subscribe to blogs in your genre. Luckily, I already anticipated this, and get daily blogs from a lot of wonderful bloggers. I’ve not only found great new authors this way, but it helped me narrow down my marketing when I had to do this myself last month.

I also learned from other authors how a little blatant self-promotion goes a long way (I reeeeeealllllyyyy don’t like to do this, and have to make myself). One author I follow on FB & Twitter, JB Lynn, is a great model. I stole ideas for contests from her, and followed her example about posting reader reviews on FB. She also regularly puts her sales stats up, so readers can know how they’re helping keep her books in the rankings. I couldn’t bring myself to do that as often as she did, but on the last day of December I did a thank you to fans on my FB page by posting:

This was better a second ago, but then I let the page go before I went back and grabbed the stats–silly me. Still, I’m pretty jazzed about ending the year (and my very first month of fiction sales) still in the top 100 for Amazon rankings in “International Mystery and Crime”. The novel even went to the low-30s ranking in this category. And It Was All Because Of You Great Readers Out There! THANK YOU! Amazon Best Sellers Rank:      #25,326 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)      #87 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > International Mystery & Crime      #96 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense> Mystery > International Mystery & Crime

And I was surprised to see that sales jumped again after that post. It’s like people were waiting to see if the book was a winner, despite the contests and the blogs and the 5-star reviews.

Now, I’m cruising a little because I have to get the sequel finished to the second series, the Organized Mysteries, I have with this publisher. The first book in this Organized series, ORGANIZED FOR MURDER, is set for a late-February release. It was originally set as a January release (as I mentioned above), but my publisher agreed it was better to go with it later to put it nearer to Spring Cleaning season. I’ll give a big reveal on the cover (so cool!) soon, and start blogging soon on great organizational tips and give some excerpts of the book ahead of the release.

Since it’s a cozy mystery series, I’ll also have the opportunity to do a blog tour for this one, so that’s more excitement, meeting more great readers, and more PR writing to look forward to in the last week of February and March.

So, when you meet authors and think they may not sound as excited about all the hoopla as you think they should, please understand–we are, but we’re really tired. New book releases are kind of like life with new babies–sleep becomes something we vaguely remember, but there’s always so much to do before we can nap.

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About ritterames

Ritter Ames is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Bodies of Art Mysteries and the Organized Mysteries series. When she’s not writing or brainstorming new mysteries, Ritter is usually trying to get her favorite blond Labrador retriever to stay out of the pond, or keep her grouchy black cat from trying to give the dog away on Freecycle. The first two books in her Bodies of Art series were released in early-2016 by Henery Press, and the third was released October 11, 2016. She's currently working on the first book in a new series.
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2 Responses to Reviewing December–Diary of a Debut Fiction Author

  1. reganwalker says:

    Great post and you are so right. What’s hard is to get your head in a writing the new story mode while doing all the promotion and editing and posting. But somehow we authors manage, right?

    Like

    • ritterames says:

      Yes, thanks for posting, Regan. We have to manage because it’s all part of being the pros we are. 🙂 I’ve begun thinking about parts of the day as being X hours writing, X hours on phone, X hours on social media, and X hours emailing or cold calling for PR opps. In the grand scheme of things writing time gets to be the shortest too often.

      Like

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