Carol Ann Ross, C. Evenfall, & MeOur group selfie - Book Signing 02-13-16On Saturday,  I joined authors Carol Ann Ross and C. Evenfall for a book signing event at The Mermaid’s Purse in Surf City, N.C.  The weather was a little nippy. Okay, I’m lying.  It was downright cold & the winds coming off the Atlantic were brutal.  Good thing our table was inside!

Beach towns have a tendency to become ghost towns  in the winter and considering the weather, we were afraid no one would venture out.  Lucky for us, there were a few brave souls. I think we all had a wonderful time.

In the digital age, don’t discount the paperback:

There’s an old saying that goes something like this – He’s a big fish in a little pond.  In the ocean that is Amazon, I figure I’m something akin to plankton. When it comes to my local pond, I’m certainly not the biggest fish, but I’m not snail sludge either.

My books: I chose to publish e-Books as well as paperbacks.  (And I’m thinking about trying an audio with the next one.)  On Amazon, the e-Books sell, the paperbacks -not so much.  The profit margin on the e-Books is pretty slim.  I’ll have to sell a lot of them to quit my day job.

This is why I like paperbacks:

It’s hard to participate in a book signing event if I don’t have a physical copy of my book. Let’s face it – nobody wants me signing their Kindle.

I live in a vacation area.  Visitors like buying books by local authors.  Having said that – locals like supporting locals, too.  Not only do I have books in local shops, I’ve found participating in community events like craft shows and Holiday festivals are a great way to not only get my name out there, but to sell books.  The truth of the matter is this:  When we’re talking money – my local sales out perform my internet sales.  Maybe one day that won’t be the case but for now, it is what it is.

Looking at my KDP report isn’t exactly exhilarating, but selling several books at a local festival – that rocks! And getting a monthly check for the books sold at a local store isn’t too bad, either.

My advice:

If you’re not finding the success you’d hoped for on Amazon, etc.,  don’t overlook the value of your local market.





So You’re Booking A Virtual Book Tour?

Imagine if you will:

You’ve published your novel.  Your mom, sister and best friend have purchased it. Your cousin smiled and asked for a free copy while your neighbor has studiously avoided you since you announced your happy news.

Your sales report from KDP is nothing short of humbling.

Now what?

You’ve checked into several options and seeing as how your marketing budget is quite limited.  You’ve decided to take your book on tour – a virtual tour.


Before you go any further, before you sign on the dotted line, let me share a little of my experience as both a touring author and hosting blogger…

thinkingClose your eyes and picture yourself sitting at a table in your favorite bookstore.  There’s a line of people eager to meet you, patiently waiting for you to sign their copy of your novel. Of course, you smile.  You schmooze. You pull out your trusty pen and you sign your name with a flourish – just as you’ve practiced so many times before.

Now:  Open your eyes and let’s talk about your virtual book tour.  Because while they are much the same, they are uniquely different. Instead of a line of people physically standing in front of you, there will be countless people sitting in front of their computer screens.

First:  Do your homework.  Make sure that the tour organizer you’ve selected is a good fit for your book.  This is easy enough to figure out. Sometimes, you can tell just by the name.  (ex:  Deb’s Chic Lit Tours) Other times,  the name won’t give you a clue. (ex: Deb’s Virtual Book Tours) This is when you need to look at the books that are currently touring and those that have previously toured.  Is your book’s genre well represented? If so, go a step further.  Visit the host sites.  Note the visits/interaction on the site or the lack there of. Remember: It’s up to each individual blogger to sign up to host your book. There’s no guarantee that you’re going to be featured on a site with heavy traffic. However, a blogger who wants to increase their traffic is going to do their best to help generate views by sharing the post on various social media sites.

Next:  After you’ve selected your tour organizer – you will receive requests for book excerpts, author interviews and guest posts.  Meet the requirements.  If a blogger is willing to participate with your tour, offering you space on his/her blog – then kindly oblige with the requested guest post or interview.

Finally:  This is important.  Be selective in the dates you choose as tours are time consuming.  Just like with a face to face book signing, virtual book tours require that the author be present.  This can get tricky especially when juggling jobs, families and other obligations.

On occasion, I participate with virtual book tours as a host.  What I’ve seen has left me scratching my head.  I share a post featuring the author and their novel.  My readers comment with things like:  This sounds interesting!  Or Sounds like my kind of book!  

And the author’s response:  imagine

Seriously?  Potential readers are being ignored.

While the author has paid for the tour, he/she must remember that is more of an organizational fee.  It isn’t the hosts job to sell your book.  The hosts offer you, the author, a seat at the table, a place at the podium, a little time in the spotlight. But – it’s up to the you to take advantage of the opportunity.

How?  That’s easy:

*Stop by and thank the host for having you on their blog.  (You may have to get up a little earlier than usual to make that early morning visit.)

*Check in periodically through out the day.  (Lunch, breaks, after work)

*Share the post on your social media sites.

*Enlist the help of family and friends by asking them to follow your tour and share the posts.

*AND FOR GOODNESS SAKE – Acknowledge the comments!  Those comments were made by people who found something interesting about the book, interview, etc. Failing to do so isn’t any different than getting up and walking away from that table in your favorite book store, paying no attention to those folks in line.

ChirpDon’t forget – The people who take the time to read the posts and comment are potential book buyers…

And ultimately, isn’t that the point of doing a virtual book tour?

Book Covers – Getting It Right

Of Dreams and Shadow, book coverIt’s been almost a year and a half since I published my first novel.  I love my cover.  The graphic designer worked up something that was not only beautiful but unique.  I loved how she incorporated the forget me not with the shadowy background.

The one thing I worried about was that the cover didn’t actually scream Young Adult.  Everything I had read about design discouraged having a person on the front cover (think Divergent, Twilight, and The Hunger Games) so, I chose to follow that advice.

Now – I’m not so sure.

I’ve recently had a new cover designed.  I think the designer did a wonderful job of capturing the feel of the story.

ODAS200x300Before I decided to go through with the change, I asked multiple people which cover they preferred. Without fail, each person chose the new cover.   I don’t know whether it will help my book sales but I thought it was worth a try.

What about you?  Have you changed covers? If so – do you think it helped?

Sneads Ferry WinterFest

Like many small communities, Sneads Ferry holds an annual holiday celebration/festival.  WinterFest opens on the second Friday night of December with the lighting of the trees and musical performances.  The fun continues on Saturday when Santa arrives to have breakfast with the kids.  This year, the kids got an extra treat as they were also visited by Elsa and Anna.  (Just in case you’ve somehow missed the hoopla, Elsa and Anna are characters from Disney’s Frozen.)

The festival also offers area crafters/artists the opportunity to sell their wares.   In my case – books.   Our local paper, The Daily News, ran an article on about the festival on the front page.  I was lucky enough to be interviewed.   It’s nice to know that people still read the paper.  Visitors to the festival stopped by my table to let me know they read about me/my books while drinking their morning coffee.   What a way to start the day!

Of all the participants, only two of us were selling books.

This is a picture of my table. I try to keep it simple but attractive. I displayed both of my books, set out book marks, business cards, and used my laptop to play my book trailers.


Carol Ann Ross is the author of the Topsail Island Saga. The Days of Hairawn Muhly is the first book in the trilogy. Carol writes historical romance.  Visit her at :


If books aren’t your thing, there were numerous crafters and artisans offering a variety of items sure to fill your Christmas gift list.

Some of those venders included:

Don and Laura Saddlemire are the creative minds behind D&L Weathervanes. They handcraft their weathervanes from copper – some of which has come from the Whalehead Club in Corolla, NC. You can find them at


Linda Bunting, of Tie One On, makes the absolute cutest aprons.


The ladies of the New River Garden Club were busy selling cookies, muffins, breads and Russian tea. The proceeds of their sales help fund their annual scholarship for a graduating senior at Dixon High School.
Sherry Thurston is a talented artist who displayed a beautiful collection of her paintings. Not only is she an artist, but she is the author of an Images of America book called Sneads Ferry. For more information, you can visit her at


Big thanks to all those who purchased my books!  And thanks to those who stopped by and talked with me!  I enjoyed getting to know you!

If you missed this year’s WinterFest, go ahead and break out that new calendar.  Go to December, mark the 2nd weekend and make plans to be there next year!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Book Marketing On A Budget

This is a post that I originally shared back in April on my blog, Novel Notions.  While that blog is now on hiatus, much of the content there is still relevent.  Because of that, I thought I’d share this post as someone might be looking for an inexpensive marketing idea.


Original Post:

There are times I wish that someone had told me that writing my book was the easy part – the hard stuff came with the marketing.  Obviously, some people are more adept at coming up with ways to sell their novels than others.  You can put me in the “others” category.   I can’t say that I enjoy marketing. I’m one of those people who wish I could devote all my time to writing and leave the marketing to some sort of magical marketing minions.  But since that’s not going to happen – I decided to try something a little different.

I published my novel (Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not) at the end of September, 2013.  Since that time, I have promoted my book with three virtual book tours and I have been pleased with the exposure. In March, I decided to try something a little different. Instead of a virtual book tour – I choose to use a three prong approach.


First, I did a little research.  There are a lot of sites that promote books.  I looked for sites that I felt were a good fit for my novel and then went to Alexa to check their ranking.  I considered the number of visitors to each site as well as the cost of their promotion packages.

I chose:

3. Young Adult Promo Central


  • I set the date to begin my attack:  Thursday,  March 27, 2014
  • I lowered the price of my book to 99 cents (Thursday – Sunday)
  • I asked my family and friends to help me get the word out by sharing links on facebook, etc.
  • The morning of the 27th arrived.  I went to my Author Central page and checked my ranking; it was humbling to say the least.   My novel was ranked 250,914 among all ebooks and 26,785 among teen ebooks.
  • StoryFinds listed my book on their daily specials.  (This cost me $20.00)
  • At Young Adult Promo Central, I was the featured author. I shared a post, book trailer, book blurb, etc.  (I purchased their     Gold Promotion – $25.00.  The normal price of this promo was $50 but they are running a sale.)
  • eBook Soda featured my book on the email list.  (This was free.)  **Update:  I think this service now charges $5.00
  • I shared the links to StoryFinds and YA Promo Central as well as eBook Soda on twitter, Facebook and Google+ communities.
  • By Friday morning (the 28th), my novel had moved up in ranking.  Among all ebooks, mine was now ranked at 30,293 and  among teen ebooks – it was ranked 1,551.  At lunch time, my book had peaked at just over 1,300 in teen ebooks.
  • On Monday morning, I checked my Author Central page again.  My novel was ranked at 22,893 in all ebooks and 2,323 in teen ebooks.
  • Now, I will be honest – I don’t know which site generated the most sales but I do know that people visiting YA Promo Central were actively engaged due to the stats I saw on my blog.  I also think  some sales came from people who saw the “shares” of my family and friends.
  • Total Cost of the Promotion:  $45.00

I wish I could say that this was the marketing effort that sent me to Amazon’s top 100.  But even though it didn’t, I was pleased   with the results.

Beginning:    all ebooks  250,914   teens:  26,785

Ending:        all ebooks   22,893    teens:   2,323


I would think this approach would work with a variety of sites and genres.  It is important to find sites that are a good fit for your novel.  But you can’t stop there – you have to enlist the help of others to spread the word.  I hope this is helpful.  Thanks for stopping by and Happy Marketing!

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