The Grueling Task of Book Promotion

It seems to me that the art of writing is much easier than the grueling task of book promotion! I have run a small business for eight years, experimented with advertising until I got the right formula for my small company. . .and yet, promoting my book, which I think is very good by the way, is so HARD!

If you talk to a dozen different Indie authors, you will get twelve different systems that they all swear will work! Heck, a lot of them have stopped writing fiction and now focus on self-help for the self-publisher. . .and so now they are onto something and their e-books are selling like hotcakes.

So what is the hopeless fiction author to do? How do we market our books without emptying our kids college funds, or draining our retirement accounts? More importantly, how do we make our marketing dollar count in the most productive way possible?

Of course, the industry is changing every single day and let’s face it, your book, no matter how well written, is competing with sub quality works. That’s right, I said it. The market is FLOODED with junk, poorly written, UN-edited trash that is not worth the $.99 price. Which brings me to the next challenge we Indie authors are facing. Trends show that readers are becoming more discriminatory,  after all, they don’t want to waste their money on a book that they will just not be able to finish, and who can blame them? Unless your book grabs them at “hello”, they will browse right past you.

Reviews used to be “where it’s at”. Good reviews would guarantee you sales, but now, authors have the ability to obtain those coveted five star reviews for the right price. The “junk” may have stellar ratings, sporting reviews written by bloggers hungry for content. These can usually be spotted a mile away, they read like book reports, usually contain numerous typos and misspellings and are poorly written altogether. Reviews written in the book report format indicate one thing, that the reviewer/blogger did NOT read the book. . .they scanned it and picked out a few story points and wrote a review. I have received reviews such as these myself, and my heart sinks every time.

Verified reviews are much harder to get because the reviewer must purchase the book in order to post a “verified review”. Well, marketers have found a way around this too, taking most of the clout out of the ‘verified review”.

I am finding that the best reviews, that is reviews that actually mean something, are reviews written by other authors or published by respected periodicals. Not just any author, but successful authors. I recently read “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, (I will be posting a review here soon). Inside the copy I have in my possession, there are about a dozen or so reviews. The first is written by Stephen King! Several others are written by journalists for magazines such as Elle, Entertainment Weekly and Booklist. Now as Indie authors, I realize that we probably will not be able to obtain such prestigious reviews, at least not in the beginning, but we can focus our review requests on other authors.

If you’re a writer, than you’re probably a reader. Peruse Indie titles in your genre, the genre of your book. When you find something you like, buy it and read it. If you are impressed with the author’s style and quality of his/her work, write a review for it, then I recommend finding them online. Send an email request for a review. Point out how much you enjoy their work and just ask if they would be willing to read and review your book.

When you find a willing author, then send them a gift code to purchase your book. When they claim it, it then becomes a verified purchase. . .when they review it, you now have a verified review. That authors readers, the folks who are following him/her around on the web, will see that review. Remember, this author writes in your genre, so his/her fans could be your fans before long.

Equally important to your success, is that you use social media to it’s fullest. Find those Indie authors you love, like their pages, follow them and mention them in your posts. One good turn deserves another, and if your work is good, your relationship with other authors may give you some much needed exposure, and put clout back in your verified review.

C. Evenfall is the author of the paranormal/suspense novel, “The Wraith of Carter’s Mill.”

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Curses: Real or Fantasy

Are curses real? Do they really exist or are they just figments of over active imaginations? Well, I suppose it all depends on how you view a “curse”. If I have an accident on my drive into work today, is it simply an accident ? Or could it be that someone I have offended has placed a curse on me, a hex or a jinx as a way to get even ? Did the dog really leave his squeaky toy on the doorstep or did an evil-doer curse the item and leave it there to be activated when I stepped over it? One thing is for certain, if things start going wrong in the early morning, they tend to worsen as the day grows late. I for one actually believe in curses, but maybe not quite the way we traditionally think of curses.

What about negative energy? How much power does a negative statement have? I knew a man once who seemed to have the worst luck of anyone I had ever met. He told me something his mother said once, “Son, if it was raining soup, you would be holding a fork!” I laughed when he said it, but how true is it? Not sure. . .but he’s dead now.

I met a lady when I lived in Birmingham Alabama who believed that “graveyard” dirt warded off curses as well as brought good luck. She discreetly collected a handful at every funeral she attended. She carried a small bit in a plastic bag hidden in her purse and sprinkled it in her shoes before BINGO every Saturday night. . .I don’t recall whether or not she ever won the jackpot.

I believe that we can bring good things to our lives with positive attitude and by believing that good things will come but what does that say about the person who always expects the worst around every single corner? Could I make that car accident happen by believing that something terrible awaited me down the street? Can we bring sickness and disaster down upon ourselves by owning negative thoughts? If that is possible, maybe we can do that to other people. . .a lot of people think so.

In The Wraith of Carter’s Mill, I wrote about a curse that followed a family through five generations. I heard similar stories as a child, stories of people cursed because of an evil deed committed by a predecessor. These innocent folks were supposedly doomed to pay for the sins of their fathers, and so do my characters. Recently a reader commented to me that she was bothered by my reference to such an unfair curse and that the Wraith in my story gave her nightmares. Although she claims that she does not believe in anything paranormal, I wonder if some small part of her is afraid. . .afraid that curses are real.


C. Evenfall is the author of “The Wraith of Carter’s Mill, available now in paperback and as e-book at Amazon.

Spotlight: The Wraith of Carter’s Mill: The Curse of the Carter Women by C. Evenfall‏

Zenny's Awesome Book Reviews

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The Wraith of Carter’s Mill chronicles five generations of women from the turn of the century to present day. It depicts in startling detail the result of an old curse and the wraith that haunts the family. Sensitives, The Guardians and The Forgotten tell the tale while the fourth shocking segment, Carter’s Mill provides the back-story. It reveals the shameful truth behind a century of sorrow and the curse of revenge that plagues the Carter women.

Zeb, the Carter family patriarch, is a hard, callous man. He runs his thriving sawmill, farm and family with an iron fist. When he commits an incredible act of cruelty, he ignorantly brings a terrible curse down upon all his kin. Martha Thompsons’ prophecy proves true as the family falls into ruin, and the women pay the price.

Almost a century after Zeb’s death, a Carter daughter is born with notable yet uncanny gifts…

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Review: ” Thy Daughter’s Enemies; The Sapphire Star Saga” by M.L. Meinhold

Thy Daughter's Enemies: The Sapphire Star SagaThy Daughter’s Enemies: The Sapphire Star Saga by A.L. Meinhold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A.L. Meinhold has written a beautiful short fantasy here. Although this books seems to have been written for a younger audience, anyone who enjoys fantasy will enjoy it.

I would have liked to have seen a little more “showing” and a little less “telling”. The editing could have been better, however minor formatting and editing issues don’t annoy me too greatly when reading indie work.

The cover is full of beautiful color but I think it looks a little too much like a children’s book instead of a YA novel.

Watreon is a believable place which is important in fantasy writing. The characters, while interesting and well thought out could have used a little more “fleshing” out to make them a little more memorable. Since this is the first in a series, I expect that A.L. Meinhold will probably do just that in the next edition.

I will be watching for the next installment.

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A Haunting Response to an Ad Campaign

I recently ran a social media ad campaign and the response has been overwhelming. Let me just say, that I was completely surprised by the response and even more so by the stories that strangers have shared so freely with me. I boosted the post with a $20 budget and targeted users who were interested in the paranormal using the most pointed tag words I could come up with.

The ad was a simple one, it read :

WANTED

Ghost stories. I want to hear about your personal experiences.
Have you ever witnessed a haunting?
Have you ever seen a ghost?
Do you know anyone who has?

If so, I want to interview you . . .message me

Five hours after the post went up, the responses started pouring in. When the campaign ended, I added another $5 to the budget and found more folks who were willing to talk. I got stories about mysterious voices, photos of ghosts, accounts of hauntings, and ghost sightings ! I met mediums and sensitives and even a couple of witches ! I carefully responded to each person, after all, they had taken the time to answer the ad and they each deserved my acknowledgement, not to mention that I was very excited and interested in each one!

As you can imagine, the ad was also great for that social media page as well, earning me a lot of post likes, page likes and higher than average engagement statistics. Since I am marketing my book, “The Wraith of Carter’s Mill”, on that page, I was thrilled with the results.

I quickly figured out that I could not possibly interview everyone individually, which was a shame really, because 90% of the respondents had GREAT stories to share about their own personal experiences with the paranormal. I was forced to narrow it down to a manageable number. I set to work, late evenings after long work days, to write a set of interview questions unique to the experiences folks had shared with me . . . this proved to be the real challenge.

As I struggled to select questions individually, I asked myself, what would the world like to know about this persons encounter or experience? Unable to answer that one, I decided to fashion the interviews centered around what I wanted to know and BAM, I had a set of questions for each one of the selected.

This experience has taught me so much about the marketing power of social media in today’s world. ( I come from the days when our only social medium was the house phone that hung on the kitchen wall ) It has also enlightened me to the willingness of people to talk about this most fascinating topic ! As a believer myself, and having my own personal experience story, I realize that most of us are hesitant to share, which makes me appreciate these folks and their haunting responses all the more.

C. Evenfall is the author of the Paranormal/Suspense novel, “The Wraith of Carter’s Mill.”

Review: Ted Dekker’s ‘Boneman’s Daughters”

BoneMan's DaughtersBoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ted Dekker’s novel, “Boneman’s Daughters” is chilling and shakes you to the bone, no pun intended.
I’m not sure the author was shooting for this but I found the entire story so sad. Husband and wife split, Dad is in the military and away from home all the time, daughter hates Dad, ex-wife hates Dad and yet, the daughter is targeted by a heinous serial killer, giving Dad a chance to become a hero, in his daughter’s eyes anyway.
I found the beginning of the novel disturbing, the violence was just almost too much for me, but by the time the protagonist, intelligence officer, Ryan Evans starts hunting for his missing daughter, I could not put it down.
Dekker not only nailed the story but he masterfully creates a tumultuous emotional roller coaster ride, describing perfectly the panic and fear of losing a child and the die-hard determination of a man to save his daughter.

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Review: “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Station Eleven” by Emily st. John Mandel is the most interesting twist on “the end of life as we know it to be on earth” that I have ever read!
The unlikely intertwining of lives and personalities within the story is magnificent.
The story stretches across decades, bringing characters together who’s paths might never have crossed without the authors direction.
It is suspenseful, and sometimes dark complete with a maleficent “Prophet” and everyday heroes made spectacular by their circumstances.
Fate connects a plethora of characters and huge surprises are in store.
If you have ever wondered what the world would be like in the wake of pandemic,particularly in the reestablishment of humanity. here’s your chance.

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Obtaining the Coveted Honest Book Review

Today, anyone can publish their work without submitting themselves to the grueling task of “finding” a publisher who is willing to take it on and without all the rejection from the BIG publishers out there . . . but publishing and selling the work are two totally different things. Because publishing is so much easier for authors nowadays, the market is flooded and readers are more dependent on reviews than ever. Reviews help us to make “better” choices about products, movies and books.

Reviews sell books! It’s a well known fact. Without them, the public has no way of determining if your book is worthy of their time or money. When I first started writing The Wraith of Carter’s Mill, I had no idea how important they really are. I have learned that it does not matter how good your work is IF you don’t have the reviews to back up the claim, because potential readers will peruse right by your work and purchase something else from the same genre, a similar book that has the reviews!

While covers, book descriptions and back cover synopsis have a lot to do with it, most book shoppers go straight to the reviews. If your book has been out there for a while and has a small handful, you are less likely to entice the reader to make the purchase . . . after all, there are hundreds if not thousands of other books to chose from in your genre. Although I have a background in business and understand competition, I really had no idea that authors, books and publishers are competing against one another for their fair share of the market.

Interestingly enough, I have also found that less than stellar reviews can be as helpful as FIVE star ratings, especially if the reviewers have taken the time to explain why they liked or did not like the work. Varying opinions of a work create diversity and interest. A “middle of the road” review, a 3 for instance is an average rating, and gives potential readers the assurance that the posted reviews are honest and not paid for.

Because the industry has changed so much over the last decade or two, so has book marketing. There is an almost infinite number of ways to obtain those coveted reviews . . . and it can be quite expensive. There are book bloggers out there selling reviews and it can be tempting to go that route, but I am finding that the very best way to go is market your book, create buzz and interest and the honest, verified reviews will come . . . eventually.

C. Evenfall is the author of The Wraith of Carter’s Mill series, available in paperback as a compilation at http://amazon.com/dp/B00VIU9YKS.

Inspiration

Authors are on the lookout for inspiration constantly!  As a paranormal suspense writer, I am no different.

Most of my inspiration comes from the old stories I remember hearing as a child, but often I am inspired by current events and photographs.

I love photos of old buildings the most. It’s easy to imagine an old abandoned house as haunted, but when I look at this old church, my imagination goes wild. Built around the turn of the century, this old church has witnessed many events, survived hurricanes and yes, a lot of funerals were preached within it’s walls.

If the old planks could whisper, I wonder what they would say! Would they tell stories about the good ole days or would they have more sinister tales to tell …

sorry, I just had a great idea! Gotta run!

Historical, Yopp's Meeting House, Sneads Ferry, NC

Historical, Yopp’s Meeting House, Sneads Ferry, NC