Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Just proud, that’s all.

Just checked my author page and I was very pleased to see another two, five-star reviews. One for my literary suspense, DROP OUT and the other for my paranormal, AFTER have been placed on Amazon. I don’t post my reviews to gloat or brag, and Lord knows very few of us authors are getting wealthy by writing; I post my reviews because I am proud of them.

In this era of authors swapping a review for a review and paid review services, how is an author who partakes in these practices ever going to truly judge how good their material is? If another writer is giving you five stars because they want you to give their book five stars, or you’re paying someone to give you five stars then who really wins in the end? Well, I’ll tell you who loses, all of us writers and readers.

Fake or insincere reviews lure unsuspecting readers into buying a book that may actually be substandard or even terrible. Then what happens? The reader will be leery or reluctant to ever buy another book from that author or an unknown author again. Or worse, they may post just how terrible the book really is thereby contradicting the good reviews to such a point that all readers may steer clear.

I post my reviews because they are from real readers who have discovered and purchased my books on their own. Not a single review is from a family member or friend. I am proud of my books and even prouder of my reviews for they above all else they justify my talent and the monumental amount of time I take to make certain my books are ready for the world to enjoy. Two new five-star reviews from two different genres. Please check them out.

5.0 out of 5 stars Ostroff Does It Again!
November 14, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Always intriguing, Ostroff leads you down an astonishing, exciting path. Surprises at every turn. His worlds are brilliant. Must read.

5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet and heartwarming, November 25, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase (What's this?)
This review is from: Drop Out (Kindle Edition)
Great story with a real attachment to the characters. Very inspiring. I enjoyed the unique view of the real beauty of life.
* * * 

I do take the good with the bad and although DROP OUT has received a two-star review (I understand everyone has their own tastes and opinions) the other nearly two-dozen five-star reviews affirms my faith in not only that book but all my other books as well.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What may work part # 2

If you follow this blog you know I’ve been trying a lot of the latest online marketing and promotion websites for writers. I started with four last week which are listed on my last post. So far, I have seen an increase in sales for DROP OUT, which is the book that I’m promoting most. Surprisingly, sales for my other books have also increased. I believe this is due to reader’s curiosity about my other material stemming from the marketing of DROP OUT.

This week I also tried another new website for authors called Author Marketing Club. This is a relatively new site with plenty of new apps designed to help promote your book. I joined for one year at @ $100, but I would highly recommend you join per month at @ $20 before committing to see if it’s for you. Here’s why.

They have a great app that lets you add font size and color to your Amazon descriptions on the description page. This greatly emphasizes the look and appeal of the description. I’ve done it with all but two of my books. The reason for the last two is because I mistakenly provided their descriptions on the Amazon Author Central page, which the AMC code won’t work. The other descriptions for my books are now enhanced and you can check them out through my blog to see what I mean.

AMC also offers several other neat apps including one that pulls the emails of readers who have given reviews to books similar to yours in the past. AMC gives you a template on which to send potential reviewers asking to review your book. I tried it for ten reviewers and only got one response as a no, but, it’s worth a try if you can get a reviewer interested.

Lastly, I highly recommend all authors get on Goodreads if you’re not on it already. Since Amazon purchased the site, I’ve had a lot more readers adding my books to their to-read shelves than ever before. Perhaps, it’s because of all the marketing I’m doing? Or it might be because Amazon is making it easier for readers to link up. Whatever is happening out there in cyber-space it is definitely benefitting authors if they know how to apply the technology. Five years ago, I could never have imagined that I’d have the amount of books sales and readers that I do today. Never give up the dream!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What may or may not work

It’s that time of year again when I try many of the new marketing and promotional websites that have popped up and are available to authors and then my report on the results. So far, I’ve booked out $119.95 worth of services from four different sites for my suspense novel, DROP OUT. Here they are.

The first thing I tried was ebookbooster. For $25 the site sends your title and link to 25 sites that will promote it for free. Not all the sites guarantee that you’ll be featured however, but the sites do personally contact you and let you know they’ve received the material so I know that ebookbooster did what they said they’d do.

The second site is askdavid.com. Not much of promotional platform, but for $15 they will feature all of my books on the site and have dedicated pages for them. Their Alexa ranking is below 60,000 so people are hitting the site. I figured the exposure was worth the inexpensive price.

The third site was goodkindles. Again, this was a site that I figured was worth the price in exposure. I purchased their top promotional package for $19.95, figuring an audience of a few thousand will see the book. It should pay for itself if just a small percentage of their audience buys the book.

The final promotion package was a little pricier. It’s on Digitalbooktoday. The site appears to get a lot of hits and caters to people who love ebooks. I purchased a spot on their romance page for two weeks for $20. I also purchased a gold display for a week in December. This puts DROP OUT right beside the home page title. The site averages @ 10,000 hits a week. So again, I’m going for exposure here.

There you have it. All this starts happening within a week, so I should see results by the end of the month. I’ve always said, it’s not about how many books you sell in a day, it’s about how many readers see your book, buy your book, love your book, and then tell their friends about your book. That’s how you build an audience. And the only way to do that is by being all over the internet.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Weather and writing

I woke up today to the first snowfall of the year. To some that brings joy, to others (like me) it brings dread. I’m a warm weather soul but I must admit that the cold weather does have some advantages. I get a heck of a lot more writing done.

Everyone knows that it’s tough to sit inside working on a story when the sun is shining bright and the birds are calling you to enjoy the outside. And even if you’re lucky enough to have a laptop or be working on hard copy and are able to be with nature, it’s still hard to concentrate when there’s so much warbling about.

For me, with the cold weather comes isolation and a valid excuse to spend the day in my jammies cranking out characters and scenes on the page. It also helps in the fact that I am finishing a new novel and the extra gray outside is keeping me focused on the task at hand.

Some of my favorite scenes have been written on blustery days such as this, it seems nasty weather brings the muse indoors with me. So here I sit, sipping my hot coffee, watching the bare trees sway and shiver with the wind, writing the final paragraphs of a novel I started last winter. If there were a definition of a perfect writing environment, I would say at this moment I am immersed in it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The end time

Like most authors when I’m writing a book I usually write a terrible first draft. Pages filled with scrawled ideas and bland dialogue. I work on this first draft non-stop, sometimes for weeks until I get a good solid manuscript-length of material. But there is one thing I never do, and that is to write the end of the book.

When about eighty-percent of the first draft is written I go back and re-read the entire thing a second time. This second read allows me to clean up all the details and sharpen the plot and dialogue. But I still do not write the end portion, as is the case with my latest book.

After a second full read I spend an enormous amount of time, sometimes for months, picking up the manuscript and reading random sections, seeing if it grabs my attention in whatever scene that is occurring, while editing and making certain each section is as tight as it can be. At this point, I start to formulate an idea of how I want the story to end. I begin keeping a notebook and jot down ‘ah ha’ moments (parts in the story that I can foreshadow and use at the end) as they occur. Though I usually still do not know how everything will wrap up.

After many months of cleaning, polishing, and summing up all the subplots, characters, and scenes, I give the worked manuscript another full read from the beginning to the point where I am now, about to write the last section. This final read before writing the end is often terrifying. Sometimes I wonder if I can actually write the last section or if all my hard work will have been for naught. The fear that no ending will suffice often burns through me until it is actually written. Sometimes, I worry that the end won’t live up to the story.

Then, like a M80 firecracker exploding inside my skull, the solution came to me on how my latest book must end. This moment of clarity is illuminating and I nearly couldn’t write in my notebook my ideas for the finale fast enough. It is as if the ending section is a psychic gift from a higher source.

I am about to put these quickly scrawled ideas into my computer and I know now exactly how this book will end and it’s blowing my mind and I hope will blow reader’s minds also. I won’t reveal the title of my latest just yet (hint, hint… it’s hidden in this article) but it is a dystopian novel set fifty years after humanity has driven away an alien attack force. The book should be available by the Christmas season.