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.

----------------------------------------------------
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!

----------------------------------------------------
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.

----------------------------------------------------
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? 
----------------------------------------------------
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.