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She’s known as the BOOK GAL: Q and A with Penny Sansevieri of Author Marketing Experts #amwriting #marketing

Book Marketing Expert  and best selling author Penny Sansevieri
Marketing Expert and best selling author Penny Sansevieri

Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns.

LP: Tell us about your background and how and why you started Author Marketing Experts.

PS: I started the company because I’m an author and I wanted to give authors a company that understood them, knew the publishing industry and knew what they wanted.

Before I started AME I was in corporate America, working in marketing – but nothing as exciting as marketing authors. Then I got laid off not once but twice. Two companies I worked with shut down, I took it as a sign and started AME. I guess I am what you call an accidental entrepreneur.

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 9.04.44 AMLP: What services does AME offer?

PS: Our focus is on promotion, reaching potential buyers and readers. There are a lot of phases to getting a book out there, from editing to publishing, but we’re the go-to for the exposure.

LP: What can AME do for an author that they can’t do for themselves?

PS: What makes my team special is that we know what works and what doesn’t. For a lot of authors who try to tackle marketing on their own it’s a lot of trial and error. I’m not saying we can knock it out of the park 100% of the time, no company can do that, there’s a lot out of our control, but we really do know what strategies work for which types of books and which types of readers. We also have a lot of boots on the ground at any one time, pushing a book from multiple channels, no single person can make that happen on their own.

LP: Okay let’s talk about price. What are the different packages you offer and what do they cost? What can an author get for their money?

PS: First let me say our price ranges have varied somewhat through the years, to some degree they change based on what’s working in the industry, what we can offer our clients and what’s getting authors solid results over and over again. That being said, right now for the types of strategies and approaches we’re really seeing making an impact, the starting budgets are around $1500-$2000. They go up from there based on needs.

51zsiSRPTsLAnd for what they can expect, honestly we customize each campaign for the book and author, rarely are there two campaigns that are exactly alike in our recommendations, but our core strategies usually include guaranteed reviews, Amazon Search Optimization, eBook-specific promotions, and some media pitching. Our goal is to cover as many channels as possible. So we don’t encourage our clients to put all their investment in media for example.

LP: Tell us about two author success stories that AME was involved in – and walk us through what you did for them and what the results were in terms of exposure, sales etc . . .

PS: Some years back, we worked on a book called Cookin’ for Love. by Sharon Boorstin. The book was self-published and turned down by the author’s traditional publisher because he thought that the characters in the book (who were over 50) were too old. So we worked with the author to promote the heck out of the book. We pitched Boomer bloggers and we told them the *why* of why she wound up self-publishing the book, which engaged then even further and fired up her reader base. She wound up doing so well with the book, Lifetime came after her for a movie deal.

51xUHu1NbLL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_The Kennedy Detail, with the former Kennedy Secret Service seemed like a slam dunk. I mean, it’s Kennedy, right? So we had a lot of blogger pitching on this campaign – I mean a ton. But once we started pitching we found out quickly that most of the bloggers only want to talk conspiracy theories (most of them anyway, and we weren’t pitching that specific market). So instead we turned to author events – and the two former Secret Service, including Clint Hill who was the agent who threw himself onto Kennedy’s car when he was shot, toured the country. We often had standing room only crowds. At Warwick’s Books in La Jolla, we had almost 300 people trying to get into that tiny store.

In regards to sales, we don’t track those. No marketing company should because they can’t take credit, or blame, for sales on their own. Too many factors affect sales, a lot of them are established before we join the party and many we have no control over, like competition for example.

LP: You also write for the Huffington Post – how did that come about and what are some of the topics you write about?

Penny-SansevieriIt was offered to several us, by Arianna Huffington directly at a publishing event I was speaking at – they were looking to build their book and publishing track. I write about publishing but mostly marketing.

I try to focus on topics authors can run with the day they read the article. So easy to implement marketing strategies, strategies that are proven to drum up more sales, warnings and guidelines that can save authors a lot of headaches. People don’t have a lot of time and I respect that, so I want to be a reliable source for go-to help.

LP: You also teach a self-publishing course at NYU – what is the most important thing you tell the students who take your course?

That publishing is a business – yes, it’s creative and exciting and all of that, but at the end of the day it’s a business. You’ve got to make decisions that are business minded. It’s pretty easy to let the ego guide you, I mean in terms of what might look pretty on paper, but be a bad choice for the book. An example of this might be a full page ad in the New York Times. I love NYT but book ads in newspapers tend to only do well for authors with big platforms – like James Patterson, etc.

Image: hopkins.typepad.com
Image: hopkins.typepad.com

LP: In your experience – what are some big no-nos that you see authors do online.

PS: I hate to say there are so many, but back to what I said about it being a lot of trial and error, that’s really a big part of doing it on your own. But a handful of things that we see over and over again that can make a big impact are: pricing your book too high; not creating engaging copy for your Amazon page; not having a home base, be it a basic website or just a well-run Facebook page; and not engaging with readers. The biggest mistake an author can make is just sitting back and assuming because the book is for sale, people will buy it. Nothing is that easy, and certainly not in this market, where over 4,500 books are being published every single day.

LP: What are three things that you believe every newbie or struggling author ABSOLUTELY needs to do EVERY SINGLE DAY.

PS: Reach out to fans and potential readers. This is where social media comes in handy. You may not love it, but chances are your buyer market loves it. And maybe your readers aren’t on Facebook, maybe they’re on Twitter – figure it out, know your demographics.

Don’t spin your wheels doing things that don’t matter. This is more of a don’t, but honestly it means take that time and put it into something that works. If you only get 5 visitors to your blog every month, don’t kill yourself writing blog posts. Take that time and research bloggers to pitch yourself to, or spend more time on social media you know is popular for your market, or finish that next book! Anything productive is better than something unproductive.

You don’t have to read every marketing blog or every success newsletter, but find a few that fit your style, that motivate you, and commit to not only reading them, but implementing strategies you learn about. But make sure you make it more than just busy work, this is not busy = productive. This is about making your next book release that much better!

Night-Maneuvers-189x30051tFzHuADzL51tqKp1TBQLLP: Bonus Question: Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

PS: Well so this is like picking my favorite child, that’s pretty hard. Honestly, I love authors who work it. We have worked through several books with Leslie Hachtel – she is tireless and she gets it. If she isn’t writing she’s looking for a way to promote her books. Tawny Weber is another one, and Sarah Andre – all of these gals are just “out there” and pushing their books. I could go on, because we’re so lucky to work with so many authors who never let a “no” get in the way of their success. Honestly, those are my favorite authors because these days, anyone can write a book – it takes a lot more effort to get it seen and read.

Contact Author Marketing Experts via their website or connect with Penny Sansevieri via facebook, twitter, @Bookgal linkedin

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What do successful authors have in common? by Joanna D’Angelo #amwriting #promotion #marketing

Embrace it. ;)
Embrace it. 😉

There are things that a publisher can do for an author. And there are things that an author needs to do for him/herself. 

If you sign on with a publisher and expect to hit a bestseller list right away, it can happen, but chances are it won’t. But if you want to make a living as an author, sell consistently, and be able to pay your bills and sock some money away – you need to start doing what successful authors do.

So what distinguishes authors who make a good living from authors who are not getting sales?

Here are some observations I have compiled over the years of interviewing successful authors, talking to marketing professionals and in working with LeeAnn Lessard, Publisher of Lachesis Publishing. She knows her stuff. 🙂

1. Successful authors have a PLAN and if something in their plan isn’t working they change their plan. How do they change it? (keep reading).

2. Successful authors research ways that they can promote their books. They talk to other authors who are successful. They look into different blogs, review sites, online advertising, newsletter promotions, increasing their newsletter subscribers, etc . . . If something doesn’t work they go onto the next item on their list.  They look for different approaches. The point is they SEEK OUT and FIND OUT what other successful authors are doing.

3. Successful authors write every day but they also DO BUSINESS every day. A successful author knows that he or she is not just a creative artist – he or she is running a business. If you are an author – and you want to make a living at this you need to understand this. YOU ARE RUNNING A BUSINESS. And when you run a business you are either selling a product or a service. If you are selling a product you have to understand that merely telling people about your product is not going to convince them to buy it. You can’t just throw up a post on your facebook wall and say “hey, here’s my book” or “hey, my book is on sale”. You have to SELL THE EXPERIENCE of YOUR book. You know those Super Bowl ads that everyone loves? They are cinematic experiences that elicit a particular emotion from the audience. Successful authors understand what that means. They understand that they have a unique brand that appeals to a particular audience and what they need to do is to FIND that audience and REACH OUT to them in a meaningful and appealing way. If you don’t know what the means – there are a lot of books and professionals that explain it very well. Again – seek and you shall find.

Keep Calm and Market Your Book
Keep Calm and Market Your Book

4. If a successful author doesn’t have the time to do all of this marketing stuff – they HIRE someone with the skills and know-how who does. Yes. Successful authors know that you have to spend money to make money. Either that or you have to have someone IN YOUR LIFE  like a spouse or son/daughter who is your partner and who works on your behalf to do all the promotion and marketing that you need.

5. Successful authors are always connecting with readers on social media and through their newsletters – sharing their lives – sharing their humour – sharing their creativity. And in return – reaching out to their fans and readers and listening to them and reading what THEY have to say. In other words  – they INTERACT. They don’t simply post “buy my book” posts – they interact with people. This is common sense right? You’d be surprised how many authors don’t know this.

6. Successful authors know that they can’t put all of their eggs in one basket and if they want to build momentum they either publish with more than one publisher or they self-publish as well in order to get more books out. It’s true you can’t just put out one book every two years and then sit back and let the money roll in. Unless you have a sweet publishing deal with a big pub. And even then you still have to produce your next book. Most successful authors who write full time and make a living at it – publish several books a year.

7. Successful authors understand what marketing and promotion means. If they don’t they research it.

8. Everyone has a right to complain if they fall off the horse and something doesn’t go their way. But successful authors get right back on. They are highly motivated people who move forward in their quest for success.

Work it. :)
Work it. 🙂

9. Successful authors don’t work in spurts. They don’t do things here and there. They don’t “putter”. They don’t send an email a few weeks ago or last month. They work consistently and diligently EVERY DAY not JUST on their writing but on their BUSINESS. Even if they have a full time job and kids and a dog to take care of and all they can manage is 1 hour a day. They make good use of that hour.

10. Successful authors know that it takes time to become successful. It’s not for fly-by-nighters. It’s for people who put in the time, effort, and the day-to-day drudgery of running a business. That’s what successful authors do.

The end.

Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, social media, and good writing.

Connect with Joanna on twitter@JoannaDangelo, on facebook and on pinterest.

Her facebook page is: Love Romance Novels (on facebook)

Her other blogs are: thepopculturedivas and therevolvingbook

Like our Lachesis Publishing page on facebook. Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter.

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She’s helped hundreds of authors create winning brands: Q and A with dynamo Kim Killion of The Killion Group #authorpromo #amwriting


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TheKillionGroup_finalWelcome to our third and final feature on the Killion Group, a dynamic full service company that specializes in brand marketing for authors from idea to execution. Today we’re chatting with Kim Killion, the founder of  The Killion Group and Hot Damn Designs and a successful romance author in her own right. Kim Killion is the dynamo behind The Killion Group and her vision has helped to build the company into the powerhouse it is today.

Author, Graphic Designer, Professor, Photographer, and Founder of The Killion Group and Hot Damn Designs
Author, Graphic Designer, Professor, Photographer, and Founder of The Killion Group and Hot Damn Designs

Tell us about your background and how and why you started The Killion Group .

Out of high school, I studied near Kansas City, MO for my degrees. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Certificate in Web Design, and I’m an Adobe Certified Expert (equivalent to a Masters in Adobe).

I have nearly 27 years of design and teaching experience. For several years after college, I worked in the design depts. of some major financial companies. After starting a family, I began teaching Graphic Design in St. Louis. I really loved (still love) teaching and did so for 13 yrs.

I began writing in 1998 and in 2005, I joined the St. Louis RWA ® Chapter.  About 2009-ish, some of the women in the Chapter needed some design work done. Mostly websites, as the Indie movement hadn’t taken full-hold yet.  But as I did more of that side-work/design, I found a terrible lack of historical stock images. With help from local authors, I borrowed enough historical clothing and props and hired a photographer –and held a 2 day, 16 hr, photoshoot!  Hot Damn Designs and Hot Damn Stock were born.

By 2011, I was busier than I could imagine and decided to stop teaching and go full-time designing.  I then hired a web tech, another designer (a student actually who was the top of the graduating class), and then hired Jenn to help keep us all organized.

RWA_ad1_150What services does The Killion Group offer authors?

We offer everything (every service) a publishing house offers, but we work strictly on a flat fee basis. Meaning, the author keeps all her royalties.

Here is a full list of services and our prices: http://thekilliongroupinc.com/services/

We pride ourselves on knowing what it’s like to be “that” author because both Jenn and I were where they are!  We know what it feels like and want to let clients know we’re there for them to help them make the best of their book from start to finish.

That includes everything from cover to uploading the book for them if they want.

We want authors to be able to write and we can do the rest – or authors can pick and choose what they’d like help with.

REG0103BrooksPAR0080BrooksYou also have an amazing stock photo site – called Hot Damn Stock – tell us about that.

How it started is mostly talked about above, but I’m still very proud to have one of the largest selections of romance / genre based images. We have close to 40,000 images, in 15 different genre. www.hotdamnstock.com

We try to have a shoot every 6-8 weeks, so we are always adding new faces and costumes.

We have a big 2 day shoot coming up the first part of November! Very exited!

Your client roster includes both authors and publishers – you have more than 2,000 clients – what canThe Killion Group do for an author or publisher that can really propel them forward and boost their careers?

Screen Shot 2016-10-27 at 11.01.19 AM
The list of authors who came to use as writers who KNEW they had talent but were repeatedly turned away by Houses because their genre wasn’t “trending” is beyond lengthy. A good number (about 75% of them) are now Best Selling Authors. NY Times or USA Today Best Selling. And while I fully believe the talent these women have is awesome, I’d like to think that the professional cover design and knowledge of what sells a cover and why (the technical stuff), helped them achieve their ranking.

The covers have won several awards too, so that makes them and me feel very proud.

postcard-5.5inx8.5in-h-roundOkay let’s talk about price. We know the old saying: You have to spend money to make money – but a lot of authors are on a limited budget – what can you offer authors who may not have the big funds for a splashy campaign?

To start with, we haven’t raised our Cover Design prices in 5 yrs. We’re still at $135 for eCover and $75 more to add a spine/back cover.

Kim Killion behind the scenes on one of the Killion Group photo shoots.
Kim Killion behind the scenes on one of the Killion Group photo shoots.

In fact, we’ve just LOWERED our formatting prices AND increased the design elements of the formatting.

We still say, write a good book and get a professional cover. That’s your best campaign.

Aside from that, we offer some Social Media work (Facebook and Twitter – designs and marketing) as well as NetGalley spots for Reviews and/or Review campaigns.

We keep our prices low and only have a 1 hr min. for our PR work.

We also offer Blurb/ Back Cover Copy writing service. Because let’s be honest, those are hard and yet are one of the first things a potential reader will see.

HODbook_14You’re an indie author and you write medieval romance – tell us about your style and what your favourite Kim Killion book is?

Though I do love Her One Desire ( I wanted it titled The Executioner’s Daughter) and it was my RITA® book, Highland Dragon is still my favorite.

You began as a traditionally published author with Kensington Publishing – before you transitioned to indie – what advice would you give an author who was thinking of going indie?

LOL. Well, I say if you like having control of your work, then go for it! I wasn’t unhappy with Kensington and have designed for them, so we have a good relationship still to this day.

However, my Kensington covers were nothing like what they should have been… ie: the models weren’t right for the characters. And I think all Traditionally published authors have gone through that experience.

Indie gives the author complete control of your work. And the lion’s share of the profit.

And now that I am getting my rights back to my titles, I am giving them the covers (and the titles) that I wanted.

The talented and vibrant red-head Kim Killion
The talented and vibrant red-head Kim Killion

What are three things that you believe every newbie or struggling author should do to build readership?

*Learn your writing craft. Take classes, read how-to books and join a critique group.

*Get a good cover.

*And then, be ‘real’ with your readers. Be fun and don’t always talk about Buy My Book. I still think a “grass-roots” approach is the best. Get to know your readers. Become friends. If you realize they are people who love your writing as much as you do – not a nameless/faceless person with money – I think that’s how you build a loyal readership. They become your book family. J

Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

The wonderful Betrice Small was my favorite and first romance read. She opened a whole world to me …literally!

BONUS QUESTION: Finish this statement: Red heads are awesome because . . .

They are full of fire and unstoppable when they want something!

Connect with Kim Killion via The Killion Group, on facebook, and on twitter and via her author website.

Like our Lachesis Publishing page on facebook.
Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter.

 

 

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Five Free Things You Can Do To Promote Your Books by Joanna D’Angelo #amwriting #amreading #authorpromotion #socialmedia

32038_cartoons-comics-charlie-brown_200sOh, you say you know all about online promotion but have you really done AS MUCH as you can to promote your book and your author name? Dare I say it – your BRAND?

Here is a list of 5 things you can do that will only cost you TIME not money in order to promote your books.

1. Launch a facebook page – and invite all of your friends to like it. If you want to spend some money – you can run a sponsored ad promoting it. My advice – don’t set up a page for one book or series or for every book you release – that is tiresome and annoying to your friends and fans. Just set up a page with YOUR NAME AUTHOR X and use that page to promote YOU and any other author or book you want to talk about.

giphy2. Post REGULARLY on YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE. At least 3 times a week. Post interesting content – not just about your book being released – but talk about interesting aspects of your book – like a story about your research on the poison used as the murder weapon in your latest book.  Original content. That should be your goal. Invite other authors to your page – do exchanges with other authors – where you interview them on your page and they interview you on theirs. Why? To get more readers and likes and build your audience.

3. Start putting up videos. You can now go live on facebook with live videos – so you can set up a live “party” and invite your readers – have fun – do giveaways (okay you might have to spend some money there) but even if it’s just to play a game or chat with your readers- they will enjoy it and so will you! You can make it a Q and A live with your readers- they can ask anything they want about your books and characters.

4. When you post on twitter – don’t just post links to your books – or talk about a sale – post funny pics or engage in some fun hashtag games – that will broaden your scope and reach on twitter.

Little_red_haired_girl5. Set up a regular blog or newsletter and share “freebies” or more detailed in depth content that you can link on your facebook page.

Why is this necessary? Why should you put all of this effort in?

It increases your profile on google. When I google the name of an author – if I see current links and plenty of them – then- that author will stand out in my mind. Even if they are not a bestselling author. It is IMPRESSIVE to see a big google list of links about an author. Trust me on this.

When I go on twitter and see only “buy my book” links on an author’s page – I think “dullsville” – I want to see some fun engagement there to tell me that the author has a sense of humour and has something to offer other than asking me to buy her/his book.

imgresWhen I visit an author’s facebook page and they haven’t posted  in a month – I think that author isn’t serious about his/or her career and doesn’t really care about her/his readers.

These are all things that take time – yes – but if you establish a routine around doing them – they can all help you achieve your goal of building your audience reach and creating an online “footprint” that will enable potential readers to see YOU to see how interesting and fascinating you are. To see how much YOU engage with the world. So keep that in mind when you ponder why you should even bother with blogging or posting on facebook or twitter. Think about the “SOCIAL CURRENCY” that you are generating by your 892004_030PRESENCE online.

Think about how the public views you according to what YOU put out there. And if you only post once every six months – it won’t do you any good. You will be buried and forgotten. Think about every blog post you write or facebook video you post or funny story you relate on your facebook page – and think about how all of that adds up to create a rich and colourful quilt that keeps expanding. Think about the people who will be coming across even one of those “quilt squares” and then delving deeper into YOUR WORLD because they want to know more about you. I do that all the time! When I come across something interesting that an author has posted. And if I do that – you can bet other readers do it too.

Got it?  Good!

Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, social media, and good writing.

Connect with Joanna on twitter@JoannaDangelo, on facebook and on pinterest.

Her facebook page is: Love Romance Novels (on facebook)

Her other blogs are: thepopculturedivas and therevolvingbook

Like our Lachesis Publishing page on facebook. Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter.

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The Three Cs of Promoting Your Books by Joanna D’Angelo #amwriting #bestseller

clip-art-snoopy-921342Something I’ve noticed over the years is the difference between successful authors and authors who sell only a handful of books a year. If you want to get an idea of how you’re selling – check your ranking on amazon and barnes and noble. But shouldn’t your publisher be doing all the work of selling your book? Nope. There isn’t a publisher IN EXISTENCE big or small who does that. Your publisher has to promote many different titles a month (both older and new releases). Whereas YOU just have to worry about YOUR books. Your publisher has to worry about many different authors. Whereas YOU just have to worry about YOURSELF. If you are consistently in the 1 million or higher ranking, you need to re-evaluate what you are doing (or not doing) to sell books. Here are a few key qualities that I have seen that successful authors have in common. I call them THE THREE Cs: COMMITMENT, CONSISTENCY, CLEVERNESS.

tumblr_miy082ZuYC1s0s30po1_1280COMMITMENT: Successful authors are committed, not only to their writing craft but to promoting their work. After they release a new title, they don’t just forget about it and move on to the next book. No way. They have a plan in place to promote that book. That plan – should be in place well BEFORE your book comes out. One year before. One year? But won’t people get tired of hearing about your book a year in advance of it coming out? You’re not LITERALLY talking about your book every single day. USE COMMON SENSE. You are BUILDING your identity on facebook so that when your book DOES come out, you will have lots of friends and followers who know you and (hopefully) like you. People that you have made a CONNECTION with.

Let’s say you plan on promoting your book on facebook. Terrific! BUT, now here’s the hard part: What is your commitment going to be? How often should you post? What should you post about? How can you engage your friends and followers? If you don’t have enough friends and followers, how can you get more? As an author, you have to be asking yourself these questions WELL IN ADVANCE and you have to answer them. Ask other authors. Read books or articles on social networking. Figure out what you want to say and say it. READ. OBSERVE. RESEARCH.

But isn’t that a lot of work? Sure it is. But if you want to sell books, then you have to do it. Or, hire someone who knows how to do it.

But isn’t this just common sense? Of course it is. But if you already know this then why aren’t you doing it? The answer is because YOU ARE NOT COMMITTED.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 2.15.36 PMCONSISTENCY: The most successful authors are the authors who are consistent. They post on a regular basis  – not just once or twice a month. They ALWAYS have something to share. Some authors talk about their relationships, kids, even their health issues. While others like to share silly stuff about their pets or funny things they find online. The key is to share consistently but don’t bombard your followers with the same BUY MY BOOK post every day. Be creative. Have fun. Share who you truly are. But do it on a regular basis. Why? Because the key word in social networking is the word SOCIAL. It means “taking part”. Engaging with other people. Being sociable. Not hiding in an ivory tower.

A lot of authors have “regular” features on their facebook pages. What does that have to do with selling books you might ask? Well, social networking isn’t just “HEY MY BOOK IS ON SALE”. It’s about ENGAGING, COMMENTING, and SHARING. And you have to do it on a REGULAR BASIS. Some authors have a Question of the Week, Hunk of the Week, Cute Critter of the Week, Funny Video of the Week . . . You get the point right? Other authors run monthly contests where they give away a free signed copy of their book or some nifty “swag” that they got at various conferences. OR they go out and buy something really cool that has a connection to their book/series and they run a contest that way. How do you promote your contest? Some authors purchase sponsored ads on facebook. Or they ask their fellow author friends if they can share the post. They share the contest info on facebook group pages – spreading it out and posting on various groups every few hours, every. single. day. Some cross-promote on other blogs and on twitter to get the word out. The point is to SET UP A PLAN and STICK TO IT. If the plan isn’t getting you sales then re-evaluate every few weeks to see how you can improve/change that.

snoopy-profileCLEVERNESS: It’s hard to be clever. But the most successful authors are just that. They come up with fun and creative ways to engage their readers and they always keep it fresh. Whether it’s running contests, or posting fun content, or setting up newsletters that reward subscribers with free, original content, or making funny videos that go viral, or coming up with a fun way of branding themselves, or working with other authors on unique cross promotional contests or giveaways – they put their creativity to work – not just in their writing – but in selling. Don’t be afraid to spread your wings and think outside your box. Be a little daring. Take a chance on doing something different. Approach some other authors about setting up a YouTube channel and make regular videos that you can post online. Have fun and keep trying even if you flop the first few times. Just keep thinking and doing. Eventually you will hit your creative stride and come up with something that works really well for you. The point is – don’t just sit back and expect others to do it for you. Do it yourself. Motivate yourself. And if you find it overwhelming to go it alone – then team up with other authors and go for it. You have nothing to lose, and so very much to gain.

Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, social media, and good writing.

Connect with Joanna on twitter@JoannaDangelo, on facebook and on pinterest.

Her facebook page is: Love Romance Novels (on facebook)

Her other blogs are: thepopculturedivas and therevolvingbook

Like our Lachesis Publishing page on facebook. Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter.

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The Write Cover: Q and A with Tammy Seidick (graphic designer & book cover designer) #amreading #amwriting

Graphic Designer Tammy Seidick
Graphic Designer Tammy Seidick

Tammy Seidick is a graphic designer from Allentown, PA, who designs book covers, among her many talents. She has a BFA (Bachelors of Fine Arts) and an MA (Masters in Publication Design). She’s married with two boys (ages 14 and 10) so she is busy! In her spare time she loves attending her sons’ sporting events and cuddling with her two cats while watching “too many” True Crime videos on YouTube. Welcome Tammy!

LP: Tell us how you got started in book cover design and why?

free_shangrilaTS: My mother-in-law, the fabulous NYT Bestselling Author Kasey Michaels, decided to start self-publishing her backlist in 2010. I created her ebooks and covers, and my book cover design business has grown from there.

LP: Do you work independently or are you affiliated with a particular publishing house?

TS: I design covers for both indie authors and publishers. I work with Kensington Publishing and Open Road Media.

LP: Tell us about your process – how do you go from a “blank computer screen/canvas” to a finished cover?

TS: After consulting with the client, of course, I start with a stock image search. I download dozens of possibilities, and then, in Photoshop, I piece together a select few to form the background of the cover. Then, I add the title/author name. Sometimes I add a series logo. I send the client 2-3 comps to review. After we go through a couple rounds of revisions, I finalize the cover with hi-res images. Then, I deliver the final files to the client!

2940151543446_p0_v1_s192x300nowhere-to-hide-web-360x570LP: Why are covers important in your opinion?

TS: A good book cover should quickly broadcast the book’s genre. It should be effortless for the reader to know what type of book is under that cover. It is the very first impression a reader has of your book and it should be professional, eye-catching and discernible at a thumbnail size.

LP: Who are some of your clients and what covers did you do for them?

newbook_hm_tintori_gregory-1duets_coverTS: Some of my indie-author clients are Kasey Michaels (Everything’s Coming Up Rosie, Escapade), Lindsay McKenna (DELOS series, including Nowhere to Hide), Jill Gregory (Something Borrowed Something Blue, Never Love A Cowboy), Ruth Ryan Langan (Highland Barbarian, Duchess of Fifth Avenue), and Emelle Gamble (Molly Harper, Duets).

354182LP: What have you just finished – that will be out soon?

TS: Lots of romance and thriller covers for Lyrical Press (Kensington Publishing). I’m also currently working on new ebook covers for Kasey Michaels’ “Maggie Kelly” woman sleuth series. Figuring out the look for this batch of covers is a bit challenging since the books are part romance, part cozy mystery.

LP: Indie/self-publishing is very big right now – but not all indie authors hire pros for their covers ––why they should work with a professional cover designer.

TS: A few years ago, an indie author might have been able to get away with an amateur-designed cover, but not these days. Competition for readers’ eyeballs is fierce. Your reader is scrolling through dozens and dozens of book covers, and yours should visually blend with indie-published and traditionally-published books alike. Only a professional designer (or a very good amateur!) can provide that.

LP: Share with us a few of your “Oscar-worthy” golden moments – toot your own horn – about some of your accomplishments that you’re really proud of.

Cover Model Jason Aaron Bacca has been featured on more than 400 book covers
Cover Model Jason Aaron Bacca has been featured on more than 400 book covers

broken-dreams-web-360x570TS: Recently, cover model Jason Aaron Baca has been getting a lot of press. I’ve used his photos on a number of covers, specifically the DELOS series by Lindsay McKenna. Because of that, I’ve been lucky enough to have my covers featured in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune among others. Other than that fun bit, I’m always pleased when anyone who reviews my book covers says that my covers are well-targeted to the book’s audience. For a graphic designer, that’s what it’s all about — communicating a clear message to the viewer.

LP: Let’s talk costs. How much do you charge for a cover? And do you offer other services – like formatting?

TS: My book cover design costs depend a bit on what an author needs. Anyone interested can go to my website for more info: com. 🙂 I don’t offer formatting services, but I work with an awesome formatter who I can highly recommend.

LP: Who are a few of your favourite authors? What do you enjoy reading?
51A78ibbzjL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_

19581TS: I’ve recently re-started my horror author kick. Years ago, I read everything by Peter Straub and was greatly affected by his classic Ghost Story. I’m just about finished with it now. I wanted to see if it still scared me. (It did!) I also recently read Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives for the first time. I have pretty varied reading interests. I also recently enjoyed a non-fiction audio book, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin and a nutrition book, The China Study.

imagesLP: Bonus: When you’re working on designing a cover –what is your go-to snack?

TS: I prefer salty snacks over sweet. My downfall is when I’m working late at night and I reach for something like tortilla chips or Cheez-Its. And I. Can’t. Stop. 🙂

Thank you Tammy for joining us today! 🙂

Tammy's cat Ci Ci oversees all of Tammy's work.
Tammy’s cat Ci Ci oversees all of Tammy’s work.

You can reach Tammy Seidick on her website, facebook, and twitter.

Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter and like our facebook page.

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When Super Editor Brenda Chin Asks For Your Manuscript, You Deliver – Q&A #amwriting #publishing #authors #editors

Editor, Brenda Chin
Editor, Brenda Chin

If you are a romance writer, an editor, or a publisher, you either know Brenda Chin or you know of her. Over the past thirty years, Brenda has won numerous awards, helped to build stellar careers, and most importantly, has been a big part of making romance novels great.

imgresBrenda Chin just became the Editorial Director of the Brazen and Scorched lines at the flourishing Entangled Publishing. Before that she was Editorial Director and ImaJinn and Bell Bridge/Belle Books, and before that she was a senior editor at Harlequin.

SAM_0309One of the top editors in the biz, Brenda is beloved by her authors. She was the first editor to sign Lori Foster, Carly Phillips and Stephanie Bond, all of whom have gone on to become household  names. And she helped forge the careers of such top authors as Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jill Shalvis, Jade Lee, Jacquie D’Alessandro, Brenda Jackson, Suzanne Forster and  Susan Kearney among many others.
IMG_6422-150x150
If you ever find yourself at a conference, and Brenda Chin is there, walk up to her and introduce yourself. You will be happy you did. She is quite simply, a force of nature. 

Brenda Chin, is our guest today at the Lachesis Publishing Blog.

LP: You’ve been an editor for a long time. Tell us how you got your start? And what drew you to the profession?

imagesSweet-Savage-Love-Rosemary-Rogers200BC: I was really lucky. When I finished school with a degree in French Language and Literature, I discovered that jobs in that field weren’t so easy to find. I was working at a grocery store and one of my regular customers, who was a purchasing agent at Harlequin, told me of an opening in the mail room. I applied and got it. Three weeks later, I’d moved into the editorial department (which I’d had my eye on from the moment I started). My grandmother got me reading romance novels (Beatrice Small, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Rosemary Rogers) at 12, so I knew exactly what part of the business I wanted to be in.

EntBraz-Logo-RedBlack-300x101 LP: Tell us about Brazen and Scorched – and what you’re looking for. How many titles do you publish in these lines per month/year?

imgres-1BC: I’m really thrilled to be working on Brazen. It’s youthful and sexy—just the type of story I love to read. And we’re all really excited about Scorched, which launches this month. It’s erotic romance, but it has a lot of variety. There will be several different formats (serials, short stories, single titles) and a variety of genres (New Adult, paranormal, contemporary). The stories I’ve read so far have been fresh and innovative. For both lines, we publish between 2 and 4 books a month.

LP: Do you generally know right away when you like/don’t like a manuscript? Or do you have to sometimes go deep into the book?

BC: I generally know pretty quickly. If the voice doesn’t grab me and I don’t like the characters, nothing else really matters.

New York Times Bestselling Author Cathryn Fox is one of Entangled talented authors
New York Times Bestselling Author Cathryn Fox is one of Entangled’s authors

What do you look for in a submission?

BC: A strong voice, well-drawn characters and an innovative hook.

What does a strong writing voice mean to you?

This is kind of tough. I know it when I see it. But generally, you get a sense of the author as you read the story. It’s as if your best friend is telling you something. You’re interested because of what she’s telling you. But you’re even more interested because she’s the one doing the telling. I know, that’s clear as mud. But it’s the best I can do to explain it.

LP: What do you think about working for a smaller press versus a big house?

USA Today bestselling author Megan Erickson is one of Entangled talented authors.
USA Today bestselling author Megan Erickson is one of Entangled’s authors.

BC: Over the last 5 years, I’ve worked for 3 houses – one huge, one small and one in the middle. They’re all very, very different and I’ve had quite a learning curve getting a handle on how each company has worked (I’m really good with books – not so much with technology). Each house had its advantages.  When an author is with a smaller house, sometimes they feel they get more attention. With a larger house, there are more possibilities for promotion and distribution…and more authors vying for it.  I think an author needs to decide just what they really want for their career and find the publisher that will give it to them.

What do you think about the publishing industry today? The growth in self-publishing? Do you think it will keep growing? Or will the popularity taper off?

BC: I really don’t know. There’s so much out there right now . . . and unfortunately, not all of it is good. Readers have to be really discerning.

Image: justinbellauthor.com
Image: justinbellauthor.com

On the other hand, self-publishing is a great option for authors who want to break the mold and try something new. And that kind of innovation can only increase readership in the long run.

As with everything, there’s good and there’s bad. But one thing is certain. We have to find a way to increase the readership. And self-publishing, with its lack of limitations, might just be the best vehicle to do it . . . as long as the books are good.

National bestselling author Robyn DeHart is one of Entangled talented authors.
National bestselling author Robyn DeHart is one of Entangled’s authors.

LP: In your opinion, after so many years of working with best-selling authors – what does it take for an author to be a best-seller?

BC: This one is easy. In my opinion, as long as an author is constantly innovating and improving with each and every book, success will come. Some people take a while before they reach the success they deserve. But when it comes, they’re ready for it. They have the skills, the experience and the confidence to deal with everything that goes with success in this business.

I’ve seen other authors rise to the top too soon, and it’s much harder for them to keep the ball going, mainly because they still have so much to learn—about the business and about writing.

I know everyone wants to be a star right away, but I’ve always advised my authors to pace themselves. What they learn and accomplish on their way to the top can never be taken from them. There’s security in that. And in this business, that’s something.

9780545162074_p3_v1_s192x300LP: What are three books on your bookshelf (or electronic reading device) that you’ve read over and over – or that you consider “keepers”? And why?

BC: I have more than I can count. But the books I keep coming back to, over and over again, are the Harry Potter books. Aside from the fact that they’re wonderful stories, I first read them at a tough time in my life. They made me feel better then and they still do.

NYT bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti at an RWA conference (Rebecca also writes for Entangled)
NYT and USA bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti at a past RWA conference (Rebecca also writes for Entangled)

LP: What are some of the conferences that you think authors should try to attend and why?

BC: I think the RWA National conference is a fantastic opportunity for writers–for the networking and all the great workshops.

There are some fantastic conferences out there, and I’ve been to many of them. But I realize they can also get expensive, so the author needs to decide just what she hopes to get out of them. If she’s fairly new, a more general conference, with lots of workshops that will help her understand the business, would make sense. If she’s focusing on a certain genre, smaller, more focused workshops might be better.

OtT_5001So much of this business depends on networking. So it’s important for an author to know who she needs to connect with to further her career. At big conferences, an author can meet a lot of people. But at smaller, intimate ones, she might have a conversation with one person that could change everything for her.

There are pros and cons to both, and as in most things, I’d suggest balance. Try one or two of both, if affordable. Figure out which editor you’d like to sell to and then find out where she’ll be. Many of my former authors claimed to have stalked me. All I can say is, it worked.

LP: What do you love most about being an editor?

BC: My favorite part of being an editor is finding new talent and building talent. When I hear someone talk about their favorite authors, and hear my former ones included in that list, my heart fills with pride. I love knowing I’ve made a difference in people’s lives, that I’ve made one of their dreams come true.

Brenda Chin (with a cup of coffee) at a Tampa Romance Authors conference (pictured with Wendi Darlin left) (Image: Kathy Carmichael
Brenda Chin (with a cup of coffee) at a Tampa Romance Authors conference (pictured with Wendi Darlin left) (Image: Kathy Carmichael

LP: What’s your coffee/tea/beverage of choice that you MUST HAVE by your side while editing a book?

BC: I’m working hard to get my coffee addiction under control. But I don’t always succeed.

Thanks so much!

Connect with Brenda Chin on facebook and you can reach her at Entangled Publishing.

Like our Lachesis Publishing page on facebook.
Follow Lachesis Publishing on twitter.

 

 

 

 

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The Write Review: Q and A with prolific book reviewer Megan Cooke #amwriting #amreading

Megan Cooke, book reviewer
Megan Cooke, book reviewer

Megan Cooke is a 20-something special education elementary school teacher based in southern Maryland. 

“The crazy wonderful shenanigans of my students keep me busy in the best way, and I love getting to work with each and every one of them.”  

A dog person Megan has a golden retriever named Cameron, who she says is “the best 65 pound lap dog a girl could ask for.” Megan also loves photography and travel and does a lot of both in her spare time. 

But Megan does something else in her spare time. She reads prolifically and writes about the books she reads, posting her reviews on her blog, on Facebook on Goodreads. She also has a Pinterest page. She used to post her reviews on Amazon, but that changed a few months back when Amazon banned her from its site. More on that later. 

Megan’s fan base is in the thousands. Fellow readers look to her to give an honest and informed opinion on a variety of books. Readers like Megan have something to say, not only that, they also have a lot of clout when it comes to impacting book sales.

Welcome Megan to the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog.

LP: Tell us how you got started reviewing books and why?

10313820_842341429110180_6158526084508575521_nMC: I have always been an avid reader, and have always loved talking about books, and one day on my way home from work I got to thinking about the possibility of starting a book blog to combine both of those loves. I had blogged a bit in college for school related things, so I was somewhat familiar with how to get started, so after talking to my best friend about it, I created my blog, The Never Ending Book Basket. My goal for my blog and reviewing was really just to spread the book love as much as I could, and to have recommendations and reviews for other readers like myself looking for that next great read. I truly believe books can bring us all together if we let them, and almost 3 years later, I still have the same goals for my blog: to connect to other readers and to spread the book love like crazy.

LP: How do you juggle work/family and your passion for reading and reviewing books – how much time do you spend per week reading and reviewing books? How many books do you, on average, review per week?

Diana Durbin can't decide which book to read.
Diana Durbin can’t decide which book to read.

MC: I will admit when I first started my book blog, I really had no idea what I was doing and I was pretty terrible at balancing it all, but I’ve definitely gotten better about that over the past few years. Now I set aside time two nights a week to set up blog posts and social media posts for my blog’s Facebook page, so that way I can spend the rest of my nights reading and reviewing, as well as spending time with my family and friends. I typically read every night for at least a couple of hours, and I definitely read more on the weekends, so I’d say I read and review about 3-5 books in a typical week. Some weeks I read more, and some I read way less, it just depends on what’s going on. I also beta read for some authors, so if I’m doing that and beta notes, I definitely read a bit less during the week. For me reading has always been an escape, so it never really feels like work to run my blog or to read and review a book. I truly love every minute of it!

What genres do you review and why? How do you acquire the books? Do you buy them yourself or do authors send them to you or both?

Marilyn Monroe book love
Marilyn Monroe book love

MC: I am a true lover of love stories, so most of the books I read and review currently fall into the romance category. I read many subgenres of romance, and I am a huge fan of new adult and contemporary romance, but I also read many other genres of books too. I love young adult, some mystery and suspense, and memoirs too, but really I’ll read any kind of book that piques my interest. Many of the books I review I have purchased myself (my blog got its name from my real never ending book basket full of unread books), though I do sometimes read and review books that are sent to me by authors. I also sign up for blog tours for books, and have received ARC’s in exchange for posting an honest review of that book.

Do you review only new releases or do you review older titles – and why?

MC: I review both new releases and older titles, because I equally love finding those new must reads and getting the chance to tell people about them, while also discovering and loving older titles that other readers recommend to me. Most of the books from my real never ending book basket are older titles. I read and review newer releases, typically when I sign up for a blog tour. When I decide to read a book, it’s because I really want to read that particular book at that moment. I’m definitely a mood reader, and will shift my book choices depending on what mood I’m in and what kind of read I want. Sometimes I want a more emotional read that’ll make me want to throw my tablet or book across the room, and other times I want something lighter that’ll make me laugh and smile like crazy, so I choose my books, both newer and older, accordingly.

LP: Tell us about your blog and your various social media sites. Where can we access your reviews?

Sophia Loren lost in a book
Sophia Loren lost in a book

MC: I like to think of my blog as a recommended reading list of sorts. In addition to review posts, I post cover and excerpt reveals for upcoming books, as well as random book related posts. Every book I read is reviewed on my Goodreads page, which is linked to my blog page. I don’t do a full review post on my blog for every book I read, but when I do write a review post, you can find that review on my blog, as well as on my blog’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

LP: What kind of audience reach do you have? And what kind of feedback do you get from YOUR readers about your reviews?

MC: I have about 4000 followers on my blog’s Facebook page, a couple hundred followers of my actual blog, and some followers through Goodreads While I do try my best to get my reviews out there to support the authors I read, and to spread the book love as much as I can, I really try to focus on building authentic connections with my followers. My goal for my audience reach is to have meaningful connections with the people who read my reviews and follow my blog’s various pages, and so far I think I’ve been pretty successful with that. My reviews are typically positive and detailed, so much of the feedback I get about them from other readers is that they can tell I really loved the book based on what I wrote, so that makes them want to read it too. I’ve also had readers tell me they really got a great sense of the book I was reviewing based on what I wrote in my review. A lot of readers also tell me how they felt the same way I did about the books that I’ve read and reviewed, and it’s always great to share the same feelings about books!

Rita Hayworth relaxing with a good book
Rita Hayworth relaxing with a good book

LP: Do you ever get contacted by authors regarding a review you wrote about one of their books? And if so – have you had any negative/positive connections with authors?

MC: I have been contacted by authors regarding my reviews of their books, and that has led to some amazing connections with authors that have pretty much made my blogging life, haha. There’s been a few times when some of my all-time favorite authors have messaged me to thank me for my review of their book, and I’ve even had the chance to meet some of those authors who’ve messaged me, which has led to some unforgettable moments. I am a true fangirl at heart, so meeting and connecting with these different authors, even through a message or a comment about my reviews, truly means the world to me.

LP: You recently have gone through something quite negative with Amazon. Your blog post about it generated almost 2,000 comments (and counting). Tell us what happened and how you plan to move forward from this. 

Alexis Carrington was a bitch, but Joan Collins loved her books.
Joan Collins’ alter ego Alexis Carrington invented bitch. Amazon, you are no Alexis Carrington.

Oh Amazon . . . About two months ago I received an email from Amazon notifying me that I was banned from reviewing anything on their website, and that all of my previously written reviews had been removed because I had “manipulated product reviews”. I’m still not even sure what that means exactly, and I’ve been given no further clarification from Amazon, despite my repeated efforts for answers. After I wrote about what happened, many people have said that I could’ve been banned for being a part of Amazon’s Affiliate Program and for reviewing books that I linked to, others have said it could be because I know authors or because I have too many 4 and 5 star ratings, and many have told me that Amazon just does what it wants, so that’s why I was banned. At this point I really have no idea why this happened. I have always been a huge supporter of Amazon in the past, using them as the only retailer I purchased e-books from, in addition to buying paperback books, and giving away e-books and gift cards to their website, so to say this whole thing was disheartening is putting it lightly. They removed hundreds of my reviews that I had worked hours on, and they were all gone in an instant and they won’t even tell me why. I’ve since found out that this has happened to countless other book bloggers, as well as other everyday product reviewers. That’s what led me to writing my post, Amazon, You Hit Like a Bitch. I was frustrated, but really I wanted to show that what Amazon did wasn’t okay at all, at least not in my book. I also wanted to show that despite Amazon doing all this to me, I wasn’t going to let that stop me from being the book blogger I wanted to be, and it wasn’t going to stop me one bit from spreading the book love as much as I could. Going forward, I plan to use other book retailers to purchase both paperbacks and e-books, as well as to review my purchases. I also plan to keep sharing what happened to me in hopes that one day maybe Amazon will get its act together with this, or that one day we’ll maybe get an answer as to why they keep doing this to consumers who consistently support them.

LP: I know it’s hard to pick your top three favourite authors (definitely a toughie for me LOL) – but tell us about three authors that consistently wow you.

513zFgygDFL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_MidnightLily_v2-430x688MC: This is a seriously tough question! (I feel like I’m picking between my favorite tiny humans right now, haha!) I hate to pick just 3 because I could pick tons and tons of authors, since I’ve read some amazing ones in my reading career, but three authors that consistently wow me are Colleen Hoover, Mia Sheridan, and Kim Holden. Each of these seriously talented authors have written some of my all-time favorite books, and I will never forget reading and experiencing their books that have made me cry like a baby in public, on more than one occasion. I’m definitely a lover of emotionally charged stories, and each of these authors have thoughtfully crafted stories that have touched and pulled at every single emotion I have in ways that are distinctive to their specific writing style. They consistently write books that make you think and feel and question with all that you have, and they continue to give me some of the most utterly phenomenal reading experiences.

LP: Way back when, I was a movie critic for a morning radio news program. Over the years I had a few “favourite” moments on air. Tell us about some of YOUR favourite reviews where you felt that you really connected with the book and you were able to convey that in how you wrote about it.

Bright-Side-Kim-Holden26201118MC: I definitely have had a few reviews stick with me over the past few years. When I wrote my review for Bright Side by Kim Holden, I was an emotional wreck, but in a good way. I was so moved by that book, the meaning of its story, the literal goodness of its main character Kate, and Kim Holden’s writing, and I think I literally poured all of that into that book review. To this day it’s one of my favorite reviews, and I like to think it really captured what it’s like to read that book. (And a fun fact about that review is, 3 days after I wrote it, I got a tattoo of a quote from that book.) Another more recent review was this past January when I read Hallowed Ground by Rebecca Yarros, which is hands down one of the most breathtakingly emotional books I’ve ever read. I was so swept up by the emotions of that book and all that those characters went through, that I started full on crying while writing my review. I was still that consumed and affected by everything with that book, even though I’d finished it days earlier. I worked hours on that review, trying to get it just right, so that I could accurately convey how phenomenal that book and Rebecca Yarros’s writing are. I personally think it’s one of my strongest reviews that truly showed how connected I was to the powerful and emotional journey of the characters in that story.

LP: In your opinion what is the purpose of a book review and what should a well-constructed book review contain?

Marilyn Monroe would have made a fine novelist
Marilyn Monroe would have made a fine novelist

MC: I think the purpose of a book review is to show one person’s thoughts and feelings on a book that they read, as well as to show other readers what it might be like to read and experience that particular book. I think it’s important to remember that a review is one person’s opinion, so I think as readers it’s important for us to know what we do and don’t like in the books we read. That way when we read a book review, we can make connections to the review to see if that book is something we might like, or if we might feel the same way as that reviewer. I think a well-constructed book review should really be about what it was like to read that particular book. It should be specific enough to give an idea and a sense of what the book is like to read and what it’s about, but not too specific to where any spoilers or major plot points are revealed. Reviews should also be honest, and whether they contain praise or criticism, or a combination of both, it should always be done in a constructive way with some elaboration. Maybe it’s just the teacher in me needing support for an answer, but I personally want to know why a reader felt a certain way about a book, which is why I make it a point to include that kind of reasoning in my own reviews.

LP: Have you ever considered becoming an author? Why/why not?

15950494MC: I have considered becoming an author, and it’s definitely something I aspire to be. One day I hope to get my act together by actually consistently writing and working on one of the many story ideas floating around in my head. I definitely have a few stories and characters that I’ve been working on for a bit now, and often times my long work commute comes in quite handy for plotting more on those ideas. My phone and various notebooks are filled with these characters and their stories that I’ve come to know and love, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to get it all out on paper.

LP: Bonus: What’s one of your favourite books from your childhood or teen years?

MC: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is hands down my favorite book from my teen years. While I could NEVER pick a favorite book, if I had to make a list of my all-time favorite books, this book would definitely be on that list. That book is amazing, and it means so much to me.

Thank you Megan Cooke for joining us today! 🙂

Connect with reviewer Megan Cooke via her blog: THE NEVER ENDING BOOK BASKET, on Facebook on Goodreads and on Twitter

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Goodbye Traditional Publishing. Hello Self-publishing. Q and A with USA Today bestselling author Jess Michaels

USA Today bestselling author Jess Michaels
USA Today bestselling author Jess Michaels

Jess Michaels is a USA Today Bestselling Author who began writing full-time in 1999 after her supportive husband encouraged her to follow her dream. She sold her first book in 2003 and since then has published 50 books (and counting). After many years of working with both big and small publishers, Jess is on her own . . . and loving it!

LP: You are both traditionally published and self-published – tell us when and why you began self-publishing?

JM: In 2011 I did a bit of self-publishing, but coming from traditional for so long, I just wasn’t sure what I was doing. So I went back to trad after the year for another couple. In 2015, I went back to indie publishing fully and will never go back. As for why, my experiences with traditional publishing were often incredibly frustrating. In the end, no one else will care as much about me or my success than I do. And I got tired of beating my head against the wall trying to get someone else to care or put any of that supposed “big publisher muscle” behind me.

LP: What are the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing. Are you happy to continue doing both or would you rather do one over the other?

As an indie author, Jess Michaels works with a professional photographer to get just the right look for her covers.
As an indie author, Jess Michaels works with a professional photographer to get just the right look for her covers.

JM: The advantages of indie publishing for me are being in control of the process, being able to change my plans on the fly, getting to publish more often and not having to answer to anyone else. The disadvantages are that it’s a lot of work. LOL I probably work 80+ hours a week AND I have a full time assistant. But I’m putting that time in for ME. So it doesn’t hurt quite as much. As for the other, let me re-stress: I will NEVER go back to trad. There is not enough money in the universe.

LP: You write erotic historical romance as Jess Michaels and you’ve also written paranormal fiction under the pen name Jesse Petersen. What drew you to both genres?

JM: I actually only write as Jess Michaels. I haven’t written as Jesse Petersen for a few years now and haven’t written as Jenna Petersen (my other pen name) for almost 5. I’ve always written very, very sexy historical romance so writing erotic historical made a lot of sense. I love the Regency period, I love my fans, I love my books. I have 13 ideas in my head for the next three years of books. So I guess that genre is just my passion.

LP: How do you “put bums in seats”? When it comes to getting your name out there and selling books?

The Wicked Woodleys Series: Forbidden (Book 1)
The Wicked Woodleys Series: Forbidden (Book 1)

JM: I’ve been published for over ten years, so I have a really good solid fanbase. But I’m always working to grow that through various social media promotions and also through just writing books. Books sell books. So it’s just continuing to get that work done over and over and exposing more audiences to them.

LP: You’ve published several series including THE WICKED WOODLEYS AND THE PLEASURE WARS, Why do you write series books? Tell us about your various series, and what can an author—self-published (or otherwise) accomplish with a series?

JM: Romance novelists have always known the power of the series. I think I’ve ever only written two or three standalone books out of nearly 60 published. Now in my historical romances, I’m writing family series. So I don’t write one couple, multiple books, but maybe four friends or three brothers or things like that. Doing that helps the readers be more invested. They fall in love with a family rather than just one book and it drives them to buy the next one. It’s all about building desire.

Mistress Matchmaker Series: An Introduction to Pleasure (fan favourite)
Mistress Matchmaker Series: An Introduction to Pleasure (fan favourite)

LP: When you’re chatting with fans and readers, which book(s) come up again and again as fan favourites and why?

The Notorious Flynns Series: The Other Duke
The Notorious Flynns Series: The Other Duke

JM: An Introduction to Pleasure comes up a lot, which was the first book in my Mistress Matchmaker series. People really love The Other Duke, too which was the first book in The Notorious Flynns series and my first in my return to indie, so that’s very cool!

LP: You’re a USA Today bestselling author. What are 3 KEY THINGS that newbies or authors who haven’t broken through yet should do when they release a new title, whether they are indie or traditionally published?

JM: I actually hit the USAToday with my third indie title of 2015 which was amazing! It’s been a goal for a long time and to do it on my own terms was joyful. As for key things: 1. Write. Write a lot. Write a lot of books. Edit. Never release a product that isn’t fully ready. But mostly write. WRITE WRITE WRITE. 2. Pick a genre and stick to it for a while. I see a lot of new authors jumping and that’s fine, except it makes it hard to catch an audience. So if you’re trying to find an audience to keep coming back, to build a base, pick something and stick to it for a while. At least 4-5 books. 3. Don’t expect overnight success. The idea of it is nice, sure, but long term success is more lucrative and satisfying. But it takes work to get there. So be ready to work.

Lords of Time Series: The Spare and the Heir
Lords of Time Series: The Spare and the Heir

LP: Tell us about an indie author YOU like and why?

JM: My friend Jenn LeBlanc is becoming one of my favorite indie authors. She writes historical romance with interesting characters who are way out of the traditional box. It’s awesome to see someone build a career in a wheelhouse that traditional publishers would turn their nose up at.

LP: What’s the best piece of advice you ever got when you were starting out?

JM: To write. 🙂 Honestly, it’s the best thing you can do to learn to write and to find success in a longer term scale. Having a huge backlist helps feed my front and vice versa. It helps contribute to financial success.

LP: What do you have coming up next?

JM: The last book in my Wicked Woodleys series, SEDUCED will be out May 17. You can pre-order exclusively from iBooks right now, with the rest of the pre-orders going up in early May.

Jess Michaels' feline friend
Jess Michaels’ feline bestie

LP: Bonus: cats or dogs and why?

JM: Cats! We have a beautiful cat that is my lovely, sweet angel. I adore her and I hate that she’s getting older (her partner passed away in November)

Thanks Jess for joining us today!

You can find out more about Jess Michaels’ books on her website, and you can like her page on facebook, and pinterest. You can also follow Jess on twitter and her author page on amazon.

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Lachesis Publishing Book Reviews: A Bodyguard to Remember by Alison Bruce (Reviewed by Jacqui Morrison)

Elegant spy portrait

From its very first line: It started with a dead body on my living room floor, a Bodyguard to Remember, by Alison Bruce will have you hooked.

The novel is fast paced and the excitement continues until the very end. Prudence Hartley arrives home to find a body in her living room. Her first instinct is to protect her children and her second is to call the police.

Her home becomes a crime scene with all that that entails. The RCMO gets involved because of the identity of the dead man. Stoic Sergeant Merrick quickly becomes a friend to our heroine, Pru, and maybe (hopefully) something more.

The novel, a first in a series, is set in Guelph, Ontario, a small city, which makes the crime and the story all the more interesting.

The dead man hid something either on Pru or in her home, that could get her killed. Because of the nature of the crime, she is immediately under police protection, along with her kids. Slowly but surely an attraction kindles between Pru and Merrick. The back and forth romantic tension between them is an wonderful thread that runs throughout this thoroughly enjoyable book.

The main character Prudence or Pru as she’s often referred to, is a single mom and Alison Bruce has captured that “single mom” spirit beautifully. Children come first no matter what, in this thriller. Pru is a writer and editor. There is an interesting sub-plot where art becomes reality as Pru’s science fiction book is published and she embarks on a promotional book tour while trying to lure the killer out into the open.

Pru has the wit of Kinsey Millhone from the Sue Grafton novels, but through the eyes of a mom. Her humour is quick and often references Star Trek, which is hilarious. I thoroughly enjoyed Pru’s ability to compare everyone she meets to a Star Trek character.

A Bodyguard to Remember is the perfect book for a holiday on the beach. It’s quick-paced fun and it keeps you guessing until the very end.

You can connect with Alison Bruce on her website and on facebook and twitter.

You can get your copy of  A Bodyguard to Remember at Lachesis Publishing FOR ONLY .99 CENTS. THIS WEEK ONLY. You can also purchase your copy at amazon, Barnes and Noble, kobo, and iBooks.

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