Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Corner Office: First Month Anniversary Reflections

Today marks the first month since I hit publish button on The Corner Office. My first book baby that I tirelessly worked on, revised, cried over after big publishers didn't seem interested, went live on Amazon world on June 23rd 2017. It was symbolic that I released the book on my birthday, so that every year when I turn one year older I celebrate more than my new new age: I thank God for the day that I turned from a closet writer wannabe into a published author.

The month flew by with me doing promotions, watching my Amazon rankings go up and down (what a rollercoaster ride that is), doing Facebook takeovers, chatting with readers, reading reviews: good and bad.

It's been a humbling experience to read that my book touched people in a positive way (Literary Apothecary's review post will forever hold a special place in my heart as one of the most insightful reviews of The Corner Office: http://bit.ly/2gVk3kR), amazing bloggers who helped share my crazy promotions as I was (and still am) trying to find my way in the promotional world. There's been readers who complained that my cover is misleading of what the book is about (expecting a secretary romance only to find it's about a powerful woman in charge of her own destiny). But for every negative review, there's been dozens of positive ones, and those are the ones that I keep reading to remind myself why what I do matters.

I am a fortunate author who has just taken on a long road to publishing success. There isn't a straight scripted line to making it in this business. But there's hard work, and there's persistence, and there's freedom to try new things and discover what works. When writers tell me it's a difficult business to survive because the market is oversaturated, I tell them that everything is temporary. The industry will evolve, and those who truly love writing and publishing books will still be there. Even if it is not going to pay their bills until that happens. There are always overnight writers (as we call those who, like myself, write after dark--or after our day jobs and after kids and the house have been taken care of).

I dedicated my book to all women who continue to inspire me, women who are passionate about something, whatever it is, and pursue their dreams.

My dream has always been to see my books in print, and I have achieved it.
What's next?
I have a few books in progress, including The Corner Office prequel.
Will they do well? Who knows. Quite frankly, I don't care. Writing novels is my passion, and nothing can stop me.

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Katerina Baker is a contemporary romance author whose recent novel The Corner Office received numerous honorable mentions on many prominent romance blogs. When she isn't working or writing, she is blogging to help other authors succeed. Join her mailing list to get book-related posts and articles.



Book Marketing for Dummies: The Power of Cross Promotions

Of many things authors can be doing to promote their work, there is nothing more powerful than the word of mouth, namely by other authors. There is nothing that speaks higher about the quality of someone's work than positive reviews and promos by other writers. Who else can ultimately understand how much it takes to create and publish a book?

In today's publishing world when thousands of books are published every single week, it takes effort to differentiate yourself and make your work known. It's not a zero sum game. You will NOT sell more books if someone else sells less. But you WILL sell more books if another, more successful author, will mention or review your work.

In today's competitive environment, one mistake that beginning authors make is to "hide" their work, try to protect their intellectual property while they are writing as they are afraid their amazing words will be stolen or plagiarized by others. They spend months or years writing their masterpiece but it ends up never seeing the light of day, or it is published with dismal sales.

Instead, authors should focus on building relationships, share their work early and offer their help to others whenever they have time.

When a book is published, an objective of an author is simple: share its release with as many people as possible. The trouble is, it's not as easy as it sounds. There are many things authors can and should be doing, and one of them is to participate in cross promotions with other authors. What does it give each party? For one, what better way can you find your readers than by reaching out to readers of novels similar to yours? Additionally, recommendations of other authors carry weight. Readers trust them. Readers will listen if their favorite authors recommend that they check out a certain book.

So how can you cross-promote with other authors?
You can write blog posts: interviews about publishing journey and latest work. You can include each other's books in your newsletters (you already started building your reader base via newsletter sign ups, right?). You can gift each other's books in promotional giveaways. You can tweet about each other's novels and host each other's Facebook parties. You can do takeovers in each other's Facebook groups. Be creative. Possibilities are limitless.

Sometimes it's not equal, and your readership is much greater than the other author's. That's okay, we're all part of the publishing community and we help each other where we can. Be courteous, be professional. Remember, the person you help today may be the person you will need down the road.
Publishing is a relationship business and we are nothing without our support network, not even if we have large publishing houses behind us. Times are changing, and publishing is not about landing an agent, signing a book deal with a big publisher and writing your next book while you collect your royalties. Most of your success will depend on how good you are promoting your work.

What are some of the ways you are doing cross promotions with other authors?
Please comment!

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Katerina Baker is a contemporary romance author whose recent novel The Corner Office received numerous honorable mentions on many prominent romance blogs. When she isn't working or writing, she is blogging to help other authors succeed. Join her mailing list to get book-related posts and articles.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Book Marketing for Dummies: Getting Reviews

One of the crucial steps in getting a book out there is to get reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Amazon uses an algorithm to determine books similar to the ones a browsing reader is looking at, and it uses reviews to do it. For example, is a reader reviewed book A and book B, and another one is looking at book A, book B might appear on the bottom as "the books you might like."

It's important to get as many reviews as possible prior to the release. Some authors use Netgalley to distribute ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). Others contact book bloggers directly.
Here are some ways you could get reviews:

Netgalley
It's expensive to post on Netgalley but some blog tours companies have a cheaper package to upload your book to Netgalley. If you pursue this option, you should still advertise Netgalley link in Facebook groups that might be relevant to your genre.

Blogger sites
There are lots of blogger sites. You can find them on google, or use a reference site such as BookBloggerList.com. Some bloggers will want you to contact them via email (usually available on their blog page), others would want you to fill out a form. Follow their process, even though it might sometimes be faster to email. I create an email template in Word and I copy it to either their web form or email message. It is worth including your cover image in your email.
Here is an example of my email to a blogger:

"Hello, 

I saw your contact on IndieBookLauncher.com

This past weekend I published a Contemporary Romance novel The Corner Office that I thought might appeal to you, and I was wondering if you would consider reading and reviewing it. 

I am attaching the blurb below. 

I really appreciate your time,
Katerina

Tara Johnson's sacrifices are about to pay off: a senior executive at thirty-five at a Fortune 500 company, she's one of the two finalists in line for a Managing Director position. Unfortunately, her rival of fifteen years, the charming, infuriating Richard Boyd, is just as qualified, and unlike her, he's willing to cross pretty much every line to get what he wants. 
Of all the things Tara stored in the attic to make it to the top, it's her personal life she misses the most. That is, until she starts a steamy affair with sex god Aidan, her direct report. Interoffice relationships with a subordinate can mean the end of a career, and when Richard finds out, it's the perfect opportunity to take his high-heeled nemesis out, especially since he's still nursing a grudge against Tara for rejecting him years ago. 
But Tara's increasingly domineering lover has his own dark secrets, endangering more than just her career. As her liaison spirals out of control, salvation will come from the man she always thought she hated, and perhaps the only one to truly understand her."


Facebook Review Groups
This is another possible medium to obtain book reviews. Don't expect high volume, but you might get 5-10% of your reviewers this way.

LibraryThing
LibraryThing has Early Reviewers program, which allows you to post your book and send it to reviewers who respond. You can get as much as 10-15% of your reviews on LibraryThing, but LibraryThing works better for some genres than others.

Goodreads Review Groups
You could join your genre-specific Goodreads groups and post your book for review there. You do want to vet any potential reviewers, though. Check out their profile, and if it looks fishy, it's best to skip.

Your Author Friends
Don't underestimate the importance of getting reviews from your author friends. These are usually your greatest cheerleaders who will not only post positive reviews but also post links promoting you. Author relationships are extremely important to succeed in publishing business.

Note about reviews: reviewers will not be able to post their reviews on Amazon until your book is live, even if you have pre-orders, so you should keep a list of your reviewers and remind them to post their reviews a few days before the release (or just before the release day). They could, however, post their reviews on Goodreads ahead of time. I would advise to setup Goodreads page as soon as possible, ideally a few months in advance of the release, so potential readers can begin adding your book to their TBR lists.

And, finally, regarding distributing your ARCs. I steer away from sending books as mobi attachments. Instead, I usually ask for readers' Kindle email addresses and send them my book that way, which ensures they can't forward it or post to any piracy site. Piracy remains to be a big deal that will not go away any time soon.

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Katerina Baker is a contemporary romance author whose recent novel The Corner Office received numerous honorable mentions on many prominent romance blogs. When she isn't working or writing, she is blogging to help other authors succeed. Join her mailing list to get book-related posts and articles.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Marketing for Dummies: Are Facebook Ads Worth It?

Facebook ads are valuable tool in promoting your new release or a sale.

Designing your ad
Choose an image. It can be your book cover, or you can be more creative and design your image that consists of your cover, a short teaser and a brief description of what you are advertising (new release, sale, or another promotion).
Facebook ads are the most effective when paired with a giveaway, Amazon gift-card works well here.
As part of the giveaway, ask to share your ad, get added to your mailing list, add your book to their Goodreads TBR list. Don't ask for too much. Generally, asking for one or two things is plenty. And you cannot ask anyone to enter in a giveaway by purchasing your book. A condition for entering your giveaway has to be easily achievable and fair (should not require any purchase).
Here is an example of my recent Facebook ad. 

How much to spend?
General consensus is that $50 is a good budget to reach enough audience. You can try out your ad with $10 to see what kind of participation you get and adjust your ad accordingly.

How to choose target audience?
Facebook allows you to specify your target audience, which really gets you thinking. Unless you spent considerable amount of time defining your target audience, this might be the first time you ask yourself: who are your readers? It helps to be as granular as possible. Although Facebook will calculate a much smaller target audience if you limit it, it is actually better to each a narrower but more relevant audience than everyone in the country). Since you are paying per view, limit your audience as much as you can.


If you are a romance writer, you can pick romance readers, age of your audience (which is a must if you want to filter out teenagers who might not be interested in your book, for example), their location (does your target audience live in big US cities?), their interests (do your readers also love reading Fifty Shades of Grey?) Be creative and really think deep about your potential readers. What do they like to do online and on Facebook?

What do you think about Facebook ads? What worked for you? 
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Katerina Baker is a contemporary romance author whose recent novel The Corner Office received numerous honorable mentions on many prominent romance blogs. When she isn't working or writing, she is blogging to help other authors succeed. Join her mailing list to get book-related posts and articles.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Why are we even talking about Dark Romance?

Dear readers,

At the time of this writing, on a sunny late June morning, I am on my way to my job at a financial firm where I work as an IT manager. As the only female in the IT team, it's not always easy but I manage to stand out from the crowd and hopefully make my superiors see the value women provide in the workplace.
At nights, I write romance novels, the kind that I've always thought would make a small difference in the lives of women, show strong female characters and their place in the world.
I read a lot and love nothing than discovering new authors. I try different genres: crime fiction, science fiction, thrillers, and many others. I also read different flavors of romance. Until I stumbled upon Dark Romance, and I was, well, stunned. Mind you, I am not talking about Fifty Shades type of soft porn books that seem child play in comparison with Dark Romance. Dark romance is... dark. Way too dark. Reading it is like going back to the dark ages, well before women had the rights to vote or even speak up when they wanted to order steak instead of fish. Dark romance tests all kinds of boundaries, and not of the best kind. But the worst kind of test it throws at us is to dig deep into female demographic and discover how many women "dig" this type of books. And it's quite shocking to discover just how many do.
At the time as I am speaking with our recruiters to send us more female candidates for our new jobs, thousands if not more women buy and read about being physically and emotionally abused by a "dark" prince that somehow miraculously at the end turns out to be a good guy, a guy these women fall in love with. A new type of a book boyfriend? Not even close. It's an addiction that goes deeper than these women's love for BDSM and let us take a temperature of where we are with the feminism movement in the US. Are we really ready to be talking about women's equality if these same women spend their free time reading dark romance books, written by women? If this is a type of a secret cult that thrives deep in our society, is it any wonder we can't break through the glass ceiling?
But I remain hopeful. I take it one day at a time and focus on the positives. Literature doesn't have to be boring if it promotes important ideas. There are lots of fun authors who take feminism to the next level in their books while making us laugh and cry, making us feel the type of dark emotions that encourage us to make a difference.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Gem from the South


It's impossible to not like Corinne Scott. The nicest person I know, she's always eager to help others and have a word of encouragement for all who need it. But that's not all that's so great about her. A debut novelist, she has something really amazing waiting for you in August, a Romantic Suspense novel she can't wait for you all to read. Lovers Oak has got it all: a steamy romance between a hot sheriff and a transformed rich plantation girl, twisty intrigue, and a beautiful, breath-stopping atmosphere of the Deep South. For a person like myself who's never been there, the colorful descriptions of the locale made me want to come for a visit, and not only to see the inspiring mega cotton plantations that I imagined ceased to exist sometime during Gone With the Wind era. It's the feeling in the air, and the details on Corrine's pages that made me want to read more. She has created a one-of-a-kind novel: entertaining, beautifully crafted, and unexpectedly sweet.

Raised in a family of teachers, Corinne has dreamed of seeing her name in print, and now finally--to her joy and ours--she is about to release her first novel Lovers Oak.

Corinne's first novel, Lovers Oak, is available for preorder on Amazon. Add it to your to-read list on Goodreads.


1. Corinne, what gave you the idea behind Lovers Oak? What was in your first rough draft that you felt was fundamental for this novel?

I have been a Gone With the Wind book and movie enthusiast since I was little. Everything from the old plantation homes to the idea of working on the land has enthralled me. It wasn't until I was in college that I was able to travel to the deep south. The first time I saw Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana I knew I had to write a book about a plantation like that with deep roots, history and beauty all around. I also love romantic suspense so the idea of Thrilly Lilly was born during that college trip. I felt like Lilly's story was the center of it all. Everything that she had been through and still was able to come out the other side made her a heroine I could root for, flaws and all. 


2. What starts off as a forbidden love story between a rich plantation girl who falls in love with an attractive officer grows into something much more: many years later the girl reinvents herself and grows up into a much more likable version of herself. In place of her extravagant clothes and carefree attitude, she is now responsible and yet still fragile, making her very real and likable. I found it a genius idea to see such a big transformation in a lead character and still make readers like her. How have you achieved this, and did you have any worries that it wouldn't work and your lead character would turn your readers off?


I did believe that my character could grow and change like so many of us do after adolescence, myself included. I believe her experiences in her past pushed her to a more humble and honest place. However, in my first draft that I submitted her growth wasn't as fully developed as it ended up being. Thanks to an amazing editing team consisting of my agent Ella Marie Shupe and my publisher Catherine Treadgold I was able to round Lilly out and show her true transformation over the years to the loving, caring person she ended up being in the end. I did worry she would come off unlikable, but I feel like more and more novels nowadays have flawed main characters because that's what real life is like. We all have things in our past we'd like to change, but then they wouldn't have made us who we are today. I hope Lilly's transition from a self-centered teenager to a more empathetic and kind adult was a gradual one throughout the book. 

3. Show us your writing corner. What would we see if we sneaked in on you while you're creating those fantastic stories of yours? What inspires you to write?


I'm dreadfully boring, I'm afraid. I have an office in the house I share with my two boxers and most of the time I'm trying to get some peace and quiet away from my dog babies to be able to write. I feel fortunate enough to be able to sit down and just let the words flow and then be able to go back later and edit. I rarely suffer from the dreaded writer's block because once I get an idea, all I really need is time to write and research as I go. I have been writing stories since I was in fifth grade. I started because there was great appeal for me to take real life friends and create a fictional world for us to live in. More and more friends would ask me to write stories for them and then I continued on my own through middle and high school on my parents' old Apple computer because I loved writing so much. I finished Lover's Oak when I was in college, but didn't think I could ever get it published so it sat unread and unloved for over a decade until I finally said, "what the heck?" and here I am!

4. What's next for you? Any future projects you could tell us about?


This summer I took another stab at romantic suspense and found that I felt rushed throughout the entire process. The suspense part is always more difficult because you don't want to give too much away to the reader and have them lose interest or figure out the ending too soon. So I changed gears into something that was easier for me to write which is contemporary romance with some suspense mixed in. I will be doing a series about an Irish family living in the Bronx. It will be a six-book series with another series taking place in other parts of the country after this one ends. I'm very excited about it because it's a new direction for me--which can be scary--but I'm having a great time writing these characters and having the ability to keep them around from book to book. I've finished the first one and am in the process of editing it with my agent. I will be starting the second one this weekend, as a matter of fact.

5. What are your hopes for the evolution of the publishing industry? With the drastic switch to the electronic readers and lowered prices of books, how does it impact your plans as a writer?


I wish I knew more about this to sound intelligent about the ebook world and how it relates to publishing, but sadly, I am without much knowledge in this area. I love books in hand, but to be honest, I couldn't live without my Kindle--a book with me wherever I go, whenever I need it. It's pretty amazing what ebooks have done for our society and me in particular. I used to have to cart books around with me all the time. Now I have thousands at my fingertips at any second. The convenience factor is the biggest reason I use Kindle more that hard copy books now. As a writer who is just starting out in this field I feel fortunate to even have the ability to sell my book for one penny--let alone a paperback price of $15.95 and however much the ebook will be for Lover's Oak. I feel extremely fortunate to share my words with the public so for me, this truly isn't about the money and never has been. I have a full time job that I enjoy and spend most of my time on. I write because I love it and have done it thus far for free so any money I make is a bonus for me. 
6. Finish the scene. "She lowered her skirt to hide her weapon tucked into her garter belt and burst into the bar. For a moment, there was silence. And the eyes of dozens of men centered on her, some looking at her as the source of unexpected entertainment, and others already starting to evaluate whether her confident entrance was all for show. But no matter what anyone thought, she knew what she had to do . . ."


Her sister was being held against her will on the other side of the door in the back and although her obstacles seemed insurmountable, there was no other option in sight. Strutting and weaving through the tables, catcalls simply background noise, she kept her eyes fixed on the black door. However, the moment she reached it a hand slid around her waist, pulling her close. Him again. She didn't need his help before and sure as hell didn't need it now. Before she could throw him off, however, his leaned in a whispered in her ear. Damn. It seemed like rescuing her sister just got a hell of a lot harder. 



Connect with Corinne!


www.authorcorinnescott.com
Twitter: @AuthorCoriScott
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorCorinneScott
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/coryscott333
Instagram: authorcorinnescott 


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Every Beautiful Thing leaves me beautifully shaken up

Every once in a while, it's good to be reminded why New York is such a great place to live. But it's not only the major Broadway shows that make it a cultural experience, it's much smaller, breaking-all-rules off-Broadway productions. 

Every Beautiful Thing may seem to be a standup comedian show at first, but as soon as Johnny Donahoe opens his mouth, you realize it's anything but. Presented in a tiny, intimate setting where you can't immediately figure out where the stage will be, as soon as you walk in and take your seat you know this show will be different. There's even something special about the audience--which is a good mix of younger crowd and older, mature show-goers who frequent Barrow Street Theatre--all of whom seem esctatic to participate in the show and eagerly take the paper slips passed out by Johnny before the show. 

It's a comedy, but its dark humor and deep messages surprised me, more so than I understood while watching the show. It was much later, days perhaps, that some of the messages sank in. 
I expected to come out of the show entertained after sharing a few laughs, but instead I found myself . . . somewhat depressed by the feelings that the story invoked in me. 
You aren't expecting to be learning life lessons attending a comedy show, and when you suddenly get something so utterly meaningful in a 90-minute show, it leaves you somewhat distressed. 

Can I say that I loved the show? I can't; Every Beautifull Thing and I didn't share a single love at first sight moment. But it did shake me up and made me think about the show for days afterwards, so I suppose it accomplished its objective. 

There were a few places where I wished the narrative was better written, and I did think the show may have benefited from a happier ending. 

It's not the beauty that we seek, it's the resurrection of something new that's been brewing in our minds, and this show did it for me. This is the reason I absolutely recommend that you consider changing those Broadway tickets for a beautifully sad masterpiece.