Wednesday, October 31, 2012

#WWoW Promotional Blog Tours on a Budget

I was at a loss as to what I wanted to blog about this week. I've been in the middle of planning for a virtual blog tour promoting my next book due out on November 15th and all I could see in my mind was the explosion of colored ink all over my calender. I have one color denoting my guest spots on other blogs and separate colors for the guests on the rest of my blogs. For example guests for this blog would be denoted with teal ink and those on Behind Closed Doors would be in blue. Sassy Vixen Publishing is in red and The House of Taboo is in purple. Yes, I'm that anal retentive that I use different colors of ink on my calender, so sue me. ;)

Staring at the rainbow all over November, I kept chanting, "What have I learned during this year that we haven't talked about yet?" Then the light bulb went off. Literally. The bulb in my desk lamp flickered and then died.  LOL!

My topic was right there in more than black and white. Do it yourself promotional blog tour!  Why not write about that? As a relatively new published author, I don't have the money to hire someone to take over the reigns of planning, scheduling and promoting a virtual book tour.  My promotional team consists of me, myself, and I. "We" had to do all the prep work alone. Last year with my first erotic romance release and also for that of my first book of poetry, I just winged it. I visited a few blogs, wrote a few articles for online papers and overall continued to blog about my experiences.

Now that I have a total of four of my own blogs and a fifth that I share with three other fabulous authors, I've had the chance to welcome many guests. I've learned quite a bit from all of them when it comes to tours, especially about media/promotional kits. Instead of sending all the information needed for their guest spot as a series of attachments to an email, many of these authors put together a single document with everything needed. I could pick and choose what I wanted for the post.

What are the absolute "must haves" for your media kit? Here's a list of what's in mine. Of course, you can tailor yours to suit your needs. 

1. Cover art
2. General information about the book: word count, publisher, heat level, genre/subgenre, category/imprint
3. Blurb
4. Story/PG excerpt 
5. Adult excerpt
6. Author photo
7. Author biography
8. Links for the book
9. Author links

I also started working on a variety of different kinds of blog posts from character interviews to straight up promos. I wanted to be prepared for any kind of post needed.  When I was ready to start setting up the tour, I sent our an inquiry to the authors who had been guests on my blogs and to the various yahoo groups and social media outlets.  I'm absolutely thrilled with the response! Not only will I be able to use the posts I've already prepared, many of my hosts sent me interviews to complete. 

I don't have to remember which blog only allows PG excerpts or anything goes. The host will be able to pick and choose what they want to use from my promotional media kit to go along with my post.

As for promoting the tour, I'm using my tried and true methods of social media (thank you Paloma Beck for introducing me to Triberr!), my own blogs, and yahoo loops. I've made two different banner ads using 

Here's the one for the tour  and the one for The Island's release.

So as you can see, if I can put together a virtual book tour on a shoestring budget, anyone can. One day when I have the budget for it, I will hire a promotional company to handle all the details for me. But until then, I'll keep wearing the many hats that come with being a new published author!

This week's participating authors

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A Smart & Savvy Group of Authors who write a weekly feature for their blog -Writer's Words of Wisdom- each Wednesday. The goal is to impart what we've learned about writing, editing, getting published, book promotion, and more along the way.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

#WWoW Don't Quit Your Day Job!!!

Yes you read the title correctly. I'll repeat it again. Do not quit your "evil" day job in order to write full time UNTIL...

and this is a big one...

UNTIL you are in a place in your life where your writing can pay ALL of your bills.  As a writer just starting out and for probably many more years to come, you will not make the big bucks that many folks outside of our industry think we do. Sure we all have the dreams of hitting it big and becoming an "overnight" success, but the fact remains that ALL of us will be struggling for a long time before we see some sort of profit from our endeavors.  

That Evil Day Job may be taking up time in your day that you could be writing, but it's also giving you an income to pay those pesky bills, providing you with medical benefits, and the money you need to promote your work. Let's be realistic folks. The real world tends to frown on us when we don't pay our bills. We need electricity, the Internet, our laptops and PCs, and a roof over our heads in order to create our fantasy worlds. 

If you are lucky enough to have a partner/family there to help support you so you can explore your dream job as a full time writer, than by all means do it. Take that plunge if you are able, but don't do it if it means putting you and your family in the poor house.

A couple of my author friends are now in the position where their writing provides the bulk of the money that supports their family. Not only do they put out new novels, they write articles for newspapers and magazine, provide editorial services for other authors, create covers and video trailers for others as well as themselves, and still find time to promote themselves and their latest release. 

Juggling multiple jobs isn't something new. The majority of the authors I've met over the last year have found ways to juggle their many hats and make a name for themselves. These authors are my inspiration and have encouraged me to find ways to squeeze in my writing time every single day and to be realistic in my expectations. The economy has hit the veterinary profession hard and I may lose one of the days I work at the hospital. That's a scary thought, but thankfully we do have a plan in place.

If my books take off, great! If it takes five, six or ten more books to get my name noticed, then so be it. The fact is I'm still living my dream. I'm a published author with many more stories to tell. I'll let my Evil Day Job as a veterinarian help pay the bills while I keep writing. My husband is in the Coast Guard so we have a guaranteed income and additional medical benefits. If I have to work less days at the veterinary hospital, we will still be okay financially, still have full medical benefits, and I can still pursue my writing career.

Do you have a plan? Check out this fantastic blog post by John Scalzi "Unasked-For Advice to New Writers About Money." This can be a real eye-opener for many folks and fantastic advice.

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Writer's Words of Wisdom (#WWoW) is a Smart & Savvy Group of Authors who write a weekly feature for their blog -Writer's Words of Wisdom- each Wednesday. The goal is to impart what we've learned about writing, editing, getting published, book promotion, and more along the way.

This week's contributors

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

#WWoW Creating a Video Trailer

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It's Wednesday once again and you know what that means. Time for Writer's Words of Wisdom. Each week a few authors will post some tips, insights, or  share their experiences with writing, editing, publishing and promoting. You may have already experienced these things yourself, or find something new. Either way, we would love to get your comments on our posts and perhaps you will join us each week posting some of your own experiences. It's authors helping authors at its finest.

This week I thought I would share my experiences making video trailers for my books. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I first looked into the idea. I asked a lot of questions of one author in particular, Rose Anderson. I loved the video she did for her book Dreamscape

First question I had was "who did the video for you?" I was surprised to find out she did it herself and she said it wasn't hard. Now, if you're like me, you are not all that tech savvy and when someone says it's not hard, for me it would be a disaster. 

I was on a very tight budget...well, I had no extra funds for a budget so I needed to figure out how to do this for myself and CHEAP! LOL  

First of all, I looked for a program that would be rather user friendly and let me set up my own movie/video using the images I had in mind.  I didn't need to look far. I already had one on my computer. Windows Movie Maker. There is currently a newer version Windows Live Movie Maker which you can download for free if you use Vista or Windows 7. What I like about this program is that it will automatically format the end product to be able to upload it to YouTube, Facebook or for emails. There was no need to get another program to convert the file. Movie Maker did it all for me with just a click of a button.

Once you have the program installed and ready to use, it's time to put together the images and music to bring your creation to life. You can't just use any image or music you wish. There are some issues with copyright that will most likely come up so it's best to use royalty free images and music. There are many sites out there to help you with both of these.  Some sites will allow you to use their images and music FOR FREE if you give them credit for it (attribution) and in some way link back to their site. Others will allow you to use the materials without giving any credit to the artists/creators as long as you PAY a FEE.  

With my shoestring budget I used and Photobucket for my images. I made sure with each one I was able to use the images in my video and followed the directions on the site to give the proper attribution.  For music, I really wanted to use the tunes I listened to while writing, but I didn't want to get into some fight with a record company so I found a site with great instrumentals. Incompetech is the brainchild of Kevin MacLeod. Not only does he have many pieces you can download for free, he will also do original scores for projects. His website has all the specifics and even shows you how to give the proper attribution for YouTube. Mr. MacLeod takes all the guesswork out of it. All you have to do is insert the title of the piece you are using. A no brainer...I loved it!

Here's the video trailer I did for my poetry book Follow Me: Poetry from the Heart and Soul. The music is from the Incompetech site and the images I purchased in a package. Art Explosion contained over 500,000 images I could use for any project. The scenic images were perfect for this trailer.  

There are so many other ways to get images. There is Dreamstime
Shutterstock, iStockphoto, and Fotolia just to name a few. For fairly reasonable rates, you can purchase packages that include a number of images to use as you see fit. This is how many of us found the images for our self published book covers. 

For music you can also purchase royalty free compositions on iTunes. Some video trailers also use popular music by well known artists. YouTube automatically lists the title of the song and where to purchase it when the video is uploaded. (I asked a few of my friends how they put the information below their videos and they told me it was YouTube). I'm still a bit leery using my favorite Pink song for one of my trailers. One day I may cross that bridge, but until then, I'll stick to the royalty free stuff!

Are you ready to make your own video trailer? Go on. Give it a try. What have you got to lose? 

Here are a few others who are participating this week. Please take a moment to check out their posts and leave a comment or two. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

#WWoW Creating Ads on Facebook

Welcome back once again to Writer's Words of Wisdom. This week I thought I would share my latest promotion experience. Not too long ago, I received an email from the Facebook advertising team offering me a $50 Ad Coupon to help me get started creating an ad for one of my pages. 

As soon as your fan page gets to 50 likes, Facebook will email you a coupon code offering you the start up funds to create an ad campaign. The first two I received I more or less blew them off. I got busy and forgot about them until they expired. This time, I made the effort to create the ad and I couldn't be happier.

Since the second book in my Now and Forever series is due to be released next month, I've been looking for additional ways to promote book one and get people prepared for book two. I decided to make an ad promoting my Tammy Dennings Maggy author page. That is one area where I discuss the Now and Forever series and have my blog and twitter accounts linked to post there automatically as well.  Since I started the ad on 9/29/12, the number of folks who've visited my page has gone from 115 to 22,703.  That's right. From less than 150 people to over 22,000.  Twenty-two new visitors "liked" my page and sales of my books on Amazon have started to climb again. The number of sales I received have outnumbered the clicks by over 2 to 1.  Whoohoo!

Create your own ad now!
Creating the ad is very easy, but you do have to set up the account with a credit card or PayPal before you can actually use the coupon they give you. That was the only part I wasn't fond of at the time, but I went ahead with it.  To ensure my "backup" account wasn't dipped into, I made sure I set up the lifetime budget for the ad to the $50 Facebook sent to me. 

Part of the set up process helps you pick what kind of audience you wish to see the ad. I set up the usual for me: romance, erotic romance writers and readers, over 18 years old, etc. I also chose target countries of the USA, UK, Canada and Australia. Just these parameters alone set my target audience at over 1.3 million. Whew!  

Now based on that, Facebook gives you a range of what they think you should bid on your ad space. The bid helps you get up further in the ad space line. The more you bid the higher you will be on the list. For me, I chose to be charged each time someone clicks on any part of the ad. There is a "like" button there in the ad, so they can just click that or the link in it to take it directly to my page.  Now remember what I told you before? I got twice as many sales as I did clicks on the ad AND I got more likes for my author fan page. Exposure baby!

Initially, the suggested bid for me was between $0.80 and $1.40. Yeah, no! I set mine at a quarter a click. I got a few clicks with that so I raised my bid a few days later to $0.40. Again I got a nice spike in the number of views. I jumped to $0.65 a two days ago and this is where I plan to stay. Even though it's less than the suggested amount, I've achieved my goal. I've extended my reach in one more area and have not spent $14 yet of my $50 budget.  My ad will run through 10/29 and at that time I think I will put up another one focusing on the new release. The timing couldn't be any better!

So if you've been thinking about trying out a Facebook ad for yourself, go ahead and do it! You don't have to have an unlimited budget.  You can use the ads on Facebook to your advantage and not break your pocketbook, especially when they start you off with $50.   Click HERE to take you to the help page for Creating an Ad or Sponsored Story. You won't regret it!

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Fellow Participating Authors This Week
Paloma Beck

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

#WWoW Social Plugins To Make Your Blog Pop!

This week I'd like to share with you a tool I just found this week. No, it's not brand new. It's something that has been around, but I haven't had the time to investigate it until this week. 

Have you visited blogs and found they have multiple buttons for you to share their post or even follow them on various social media sites? Have you wondered how they put them on their sites? Me too. 

AddThis has everything you need to be able to offer hundreds of options for your readers to share your posts and follow you. They explain step by step how to get the buttons you want at the end of each post, or on your side bar of your blog/website.  You can even choose how your buttons will appear from a variety of different graphics.

Have Blogger? WorldPress? Not a problem. AddThis asks you where you will be using the buttons and then tailors each step by step for what you need. It's quite simple.

All you have to do is sign up for an account with AddThis and choose the buttons you want. You can also set it up so you can track how your posts are being shared. 

Get Your Buttons!
Go ahead and try it on your blogs today. I switched all three of my blogs on Blogger in just minutes. See the little orange SHARE button at the bottom of this post? Click on that and another window will open with several ways for you to share today's article. 

For more Words of Wisdom stop in on:
Paloma Beck
Krystal Shannan
Jessicca Collins

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dr. Tammy's Manic Monday

I've worked nearly 20 years of Mondays as a veterinarian and to this day, it's my least favorite part of my work week. Not only is there always a rush first thing in the morning with client's who conveniently "forgot" we were open on the weekends, there usually is a literal flood of transfers of patients from the emergency clinics. The 8 am doctor is usually swamped and by the time I get in there at 10 am it's chaos at it's best. 

There are the usual dogs and cats that have been sick for at least the last three days and of course NOW it's an emergency to their owners. Each and every single one feels their pet is sicker than the rest and should be taken care of first. We have a basic triage system at our hospital. Each patient is given a stability check. If they are deemed stable to wait, they will wait their turn. If they are thought to be critical, they move up the list. Even appointments have to be delayed if an emergency walks in the door. Most folks understand that, but there are those chosen all know the folks I'm talking about. The ones who come into the lobby crying and screaming "My BABY! My Baby is dying and I need a doctor NOW! Lawdy Jesus, save him. He's got the epilepsy and he's been having seizures for the last three days straight..." When asked why they waited to bring their precious in, our ears are assaulted once again. "We ain't got no money! You have to save him. You took an oath!"

Yeah, I do see those kind of clients more often than I care to admit, but today was a mixture of emotions I hadn't felt in a while. Two good Samaritans brought in a stray Chihuahua they found on the side of their street. This poor dog was in severe shock after being hit by a car. He had a broken back leg, broken pelvis, fractured ribs creating what is referred to as a flail chest, and major head trauma. These wonderful people took the time to carefully transport this older dog to us so we could end his suffering. He had no microchip, was not neutered, and had no collar or tags. He would have died along the side of the road, alone and afraid if it wasn't for these two men. From the bottom of my heart I thanked them for helping this animal die with dignity. 

I wade through the next several drop ins and appointments until I come across one where the owner wants to talk about a weight loss program for her cat. You see, he's just a little larger than your average cat. He tops the scales at just over TWENTY-FIVE POUNDS!!! Holy Guacamole!

This cat doesn't like to get very active at home and he feels he's run a marathon just getting from his litter box to the couch every day so he's not thrilled with the idea he has to earn his keep. After going through how many calories he is to get TOTAL per day and an exercise program for him, my staff took over to draw blood from him for his Senior Wellness panel. Well, let's just say the blood draw went very well, but not the collection of urine. He was much too big to even feel his bladder and the our needles weren't long enough to reach it through all of his body fat. Ugh!  (yes he could have been a twin to the one shown in the picture!)

Besides all the pets with major diarrhea issues over the weekend, multiple pets came in with broken nails. Not one of them broke them outright. No, they had to be partially broken so that we have to let them grow out some more in order to cut them back. At least they were all good spirits about it. Cookies go a long way with the bouncy Pitbull who keeps trying to lick your glasses off when you are placing the padded bandage on his front foot. And of course, let's not forget the wrestling job we have to go through to get the E-collar on! LOL

We didn't get any patients ingesting their owner's marijuana stashes today, but one energetic boxer decided to polish off half a chocolate cake around 8am. What time did his owner actually bring him in you ask? Well, 2:15 pm. That would be beyond the window we have to induce vomiting and he really should be admitted to the hospital for intravenous fluids and a seizure watch. What were we allowed to do? Subcutaneous fluids and activated charcoal. That's it. Hopefully that will be sufficient. I guess we will find out more by morning when the dog is transferring from one of the emergency clinics for convulsing all night long! 

Sometimes we get patients in because their owners are actually going through some medical issues of their own...the psychiatric kind. I had one of those today. This very nice woman insisted her cat was covered in bugs that were burrowing under her skin creating these horrible sores on her body. We went round and round about it and finally I got her whole story out. The owner had been off her own meds for too long and was actually self medicating with Goddess knows what. One thing she was doing was coating her body in Desitin. She thought she would put some on her cat and did, but luckily she thought better of it. Desitin has zinc in it and can cause serious life threatening anemia if it's ingested by a cat. Oy! 

Finally I got the woman to listen to me when I told her that her cat was healthy and only had a flea allergy. I also told her that her home was infested with fleas since they were also biting her and she was digging the shit out of herself. She agreed to call the exterminator again in the morning. 

Today was also the day of the "land shark." I'm sure you've heard the term from me from time to time. It's used in the veterinary field to describe the little dog that introduces itself to you with a snapping jaws. Wouldn't you know that all of my land sharks today were chihuahuas? One of them even lunged at me as I was leaving the room. Well, I went right back in and the dog backed up cowering behind the owner. I took the leash and walked him back out. Ha! He was more than okay to be my friend then. Stinker!  

I had one cat today that made it's way onto the land shark list. All claws and teeth this one. Of course he was on his "best" behavior with me, but as soon as my staff took over for testing, he turned into the Tasmanian Devil! What the hell? He even launched himself around our treatment room daring my technicians to catch him long enough to give him his tapeworm medication. Whew!

One last thing before I end for the day. I know many folks like to keep a bowl of fresh fruit out on their tables or counters. If you have pets, it's probably a good idea to be sure you don't include grapes in those bowls. Grapes and raisins can be very toxic to dogs and cats. If they eat enough for their body, they can end up with kidney failure. How much is too much? No one knows. The amount varies from pet to pet so it's best to just keep grapes and raisins safely locked in the refrigerator. 

For cats, make sure you keep any and all lilies out of their reach. Not all of them will cause kidney failure in cats, but many do. Two in particular, the Easter Lily and the Tiger Lily will cause kidney failure if any part of the plant or flower is eaten. Peace Lilies will cause horrible gastroenteritis...yeah tons of vomiting. So do yourselves and your inquisitive cats a favor and don't have these flowers/plants around.

Well, that's it for me. Another Manic Monday under my belt and I'm wiped out. Time to head to bed and rest up for Terrible Tuesday! LOL  

Until next time...
~Dr. Tammy

Wildfire Romance Series