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Yes, it’s true, this is my sec­ond post in a sin­gle day. But, I promised I would keep track of my book sales on this, my very first #free ebook pro­mo­tion day.

So this morn­ing I posted that by 9:00 AM I had sold 71 copies of “The For­got­ten Queen.” I use the word “sold” loosely, since there is no actual exchange of money. It’s free today and tomor­row. As of 2:00 PM, I have sold 135 copies today. My rat­ing on Ama­zon have gone from ~68,000 in ebooks and  #20 in Arthurian (yes­ter­day), to 1,733 in ebooks, #2 in Arthurian, and #10 in his­tor­i­cal today. I would be very happy with that, except for the fact that when I actu­ally click on the links to see the place­ment of the book in those cat­e­gories, it does not show up. Ama­zon glitches have been typ­i­cal with this novel for some rea­son. Whereas my “Class Col­li­sion” series always shows up imme­di­ately in the rank­ings, “The For­got­ten Queen” is no where to be found, even though the link is active. I think it might be time to con­tact Ama­zon and ask them what the deal is. Is there some­one on the staff try­ing to sab­o­tage my fab­u­lous book? Surely not.

For other authors out there, you might be inter­ested to know that there is no other pro­mo­tion going on for “The For­got­ten Queen” right now, other than the fact that it is cur­rently free. Soooooo, yeah, … doing the exclu­sive KDP free pro­mo­tion does seem to “sell” the book, but as for this rais­ing my actual rank­ing, … I’m not con­vinced yet. Maybe if “The For­got­ten Queen” starts show­ing up when I click on the link, then I’ll finally admit it. Hmm.… I’ll keep you posted.

~Annette

To KDP or, not to KDP. Now, that IS the question.

My first two nov­els were released to a wide range of dis­trib­uters. As I picked up sales, I began to notice a trend. When I did no adver­tis­ing, I sold more books on nook than kin­dle. (I know, I know, that is soooooo NOT the norm!) I guess that was why I was a lit­tle skep­ti­cal of the exclu­sive KDP pro­gram on Ama­zon. But still, those free pro­mo­tion days were mak­ing me sali­vate. That’s why I opted to “test” the pro­gram. My third novel, “The For­got­ten Queen,” has been enrolled in KDP for almost 90 days. Finally, I decided to run those free pro­mo­tion days. Here’s my exper­i­ment as it unfolds.

With­out any pro­mo­tions, from May 1 — May 7, I sold 15 copies of “The For­got­ten Queen.” This morn­ing my free pro­mo­tion began. So far, as of 9:10 AM, I have “sold” 74 books today. (The word “sold” just seems so wrong.) But there’s a painful kicker here. Ama­zon is cur­rently NOT list­ing “The For­got­ten Queen” in any rank­ing. (What the? Where did my num­bers go? That is sooooo NOT nice! BTW, prior to this morn­ing, I was ranked at ~68,000 in ebooks, and No. 20 in Arthurian.) Now, as every­one in the book busi­ness knows, pro­mo­tions aren’t about how many books you can give away for free. They’re about build­ing a plat­form, rank­ing higher in the Ama­zon algo­rithm, and reach­ing poten­tial read­ers, and hope­fully a few good reviews along the way too. Any­how, I’ll try to update the “sales” progress as the day unfolds, so that other authors con­tem­plat­ing this deci­sion will have a lit­tle more infor­ma­tion to go on before mak­ing the 90 commitment.

BTW, I haven’t reen­rolled “The For­got­ten Queen” yet. My KDP exclu­siv­ity ends on May 24th. I guess I bet­ter decide soon!

~ Annette

So it’s been a few years now since I took the plunge into the pub­lish­ing world. I must say that the quote I heard back in 2009 while attend­ing my first writer’s con­fer­ence in New York has proven to be absolutely true. “The book busi­ness doesn’t run the way read­ers think.” I have referred back to that quote so many times, and every time I do, it rings even more true.

Back when I was a reclu­sive writer, I thought that the best books were the ones that sold off the shelves. I had lit­tle under­stand­ing that mar­ket­ing was the key to a book’s suc­cess. (Duh, you say? Yeah, … duh, indeed!) But it’s prob­a­bly a good thing that I didn’t under­stand, because back then I had zero inter­est in mar­ket­ing. All I wanted to do was write, write, write.

In the time since, I have come to a under­stand more about who I am, what I want to do, and how to go about it. Just in case a new author needs a lit­tle pick-me-up, I’ve decided to out­line some points that have helped me in this piranha pool.

1. Good writ­ing is not rewarded by sales. Good writ­ing has noth­ing to do with sales. Sales are a result of good marketing.

2. To make a busi­ness out of writ­ing, mar­ket­ing is required. Period. A mediocre book will sell off the shelf if a genius is ped­dling it, while a mas­ter­piece may sit and do nothing.

3. Iden­tify your genre and reader audi­ence. If pos­si­ble, do this BEFORE YOU START WRITING YOUR BOOK. Though it’s impor­tant to be true to your inner story, there is no way to mar­ket a book unless you know who you’re talk­ing to.

4. Never knock another author or blog­ger, espe­cially pub­licly. I joined a few chat rooms on Ama­zon shortly after I started pub­lish­ing, think­ing that it was a good way to net­work with other authors. Lit­tle did I expect to be attacked. (Oh yes, the joys of neg­a­tive peo­ple.) But it was actu­ally a good expe­ri­ence, because I learned that no mat­ter who you’re talk­ing to, peo­ple will remem­ber. I know their names. I remem­ber their faces because I googled them. I learned that every­one is a poten­tial aid in the mar­ket­ing process. Back then I may have been a nobody, but that is no longer the case. Be polite. Be supportive.

5. Never com­plain about a neg­a­tive review. Review­ers, espe­cially blog­gers, net­work. They talk. They “spread” the word. You don’t want a back­lash. Remain pos­i­tive. Remain polite. And if pos­si­ble, find a way to thank peo­ple for their review. The same holds true in request­ing reviews. Don’t nag. Never harass. If some­one doesn’t want to review your book, don’t bug them!

6. It’s eas­ier to mar­ket mul­ti­ple books, than one book at a time. Some­times it really is best to do what you love, and write, write, write. Then, after you have a num­ber of books avail­able, push a mar­ket­ing cam­paign. It’s cheaper, more effi­cient, and far more effec­tive. That’s the way the pub­lish­ing houses do it. They have a gazil­lion books and mar­ket them in bunches because it works.

7. Remem­ber why you’re in this indus­try. There are so many peo­ple who are ready to stomp on you. BUT YOU CAN’T BE STOMPED ON UNLESS YOU PUT YOURSELF UNDER SOMEONE’S FOOT. Ignore the mean peo­ple. Ignore the petty. In real­ity, they are irrel­e­vant. They are the ones who will offend and thus, be pushed out of the game.

8. If you want suc­cess as badly as you want air to breathe, you will be suc­cess­ful. (I’m still work­ing on this one. Mostly I still just want to write. That’s my air. Sto­ries and plots.) If you have entered this indus­try for the fun of it, you’ll prob­a­bly be dis­ap­pointed. Not every­one is friendly. Not every­one is sup­port­ive. As I stated before, some peo­ple are down­right cruel. Ignore them, or let them hurt you. It’s your choice.

9. Sup­port other authors. Make friends. Net­work. (Seri­ously, this is cru­cial. NETWORK!!!)

10. Never give up. Dare to dream. Dare to face fail­ure. No one ever suc­ceeded by throw­ing in the towel. You can do it!

TrueTwit is Spam

February 8th, 2013 | Posted by Annette in Perspectives - (2 Comments)

Tweet­ers beware. For those who use TrueTwit, I’d like you to know that it dri­ves me crazy. Sup­pos­edly TrueTwit is a ser­vice that pre­vents SPAM. Ugh. If only. Instead, those who use TrueTwit BECOME the spam­mers, send­ing out unwanted direct mes­sages to people’s email. Hello! Rude! And all because I wanted to fol­low you? Believe me, see­ing that TrueTwit mes­sage in my inbox decreases my desire dra­mat­i­cally. My email gets enough spam already. I’ve read a lot of blog posts sug­gest­ing a boy­cot of TrueTwit users. I don’t want to do that, but seri­ously, I’m get­ting tired of PROVING that I am a per­son to a SPAM pro­gram. And it IS SPAM.

1. TrueTwit sends out auto­matic direct mes­sages. These DM are not sent by a per­son. They are sent by a com­puter. It’s totally imper­sonal and it infil­trates my inbox. So stop already!

2. It’s totally anti­so­cial. Twit­ter is meant to be a forum of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Oh, maybe you don’t want any­one to fol­low you? Is that why peo­ple sign up for this ser­vice? Don’t worry. You’ll prob­a­bly get your wish.

3. In order to be “val­i­dated” and prove that I’m not a robot, TrueTwit has me go to their sight where I am bom­barded with adver­tise­ments, many of which are part of a captcha puz­zle that I must solve in order to be “validated.”

4. Some­times it takes sev­eral min­utes for TrueTwit to load. I’m wait­ing, and wait­ing.… because I DO care about who I fol­low. Finally the page loads. It’s not a sim­ple click and you’re val­i­dated. You have to solve a puz­zle. Seri­ously? All so that I can prove to a COMPUTER PROGRAM THAT I AM HUMAN.

This pro­gram is stu­pid. I don’t want any­thing to do with it.

The White Stocking

December 11th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Perspectives - (0 Comments)

 

Sev­eral years ago I was frus­trated by the com­mer­cial­ism of Christ­mas. At that time my chil­dren were young. I wanted a fam­ily activ­ity that would bring us together, and so I wrote this poem and made a stock­ing out of white satin and gold trim. The idea was that we would each give a “gift” to the Sav­ior for Christ­mas. Each gift was to be some kind of ser­vice that we did for some­one else. We wrote our ideas on small dec­o­ra­tive pieces of paper and tied them with sil­ver and gold ties then put them in the stock­ing. This stock­ing is now full of the var­i­ous things our fam­ily has done for oth­ers dur­ing the hol­i­day season.

(Star back­ground by John Morrell)

Boise Idaho Temple Celebration

November 20th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Music | Perspectives - (0 Comments)

 

I wrote this song in early July, 2012 after a meet­ing with the youth com­mit­tee from the thirty stakes involved in the Youth Cul­tural Cel­e­bra­tion. The lyrics were taken from the youths’ sug­ges­tions for themes. As I lis­tened to them call out their ideas, I real­ized that they would make great lyrics. So I decided to take their ideas and turn them into a song.

Any­how, dur­ing the course of the meet­ing a young man raised his hand and said that the girl next to him had a great idea. She quickly offered her idea, which was, “Just one lit­tle light.” Since the meet­ing was run­ning short, lead­er­ship flet that it was time to close down the brain­storm­ing ses­sion, while I was busy think­ing, “Hey! That’s a great line!” I have no idea who this girl is, but I felt her dis­tinct frus­tra­tion that night — as if she were sure that she felt prompted to speak. Even though I have no idea who she is, her words touched me deeply. As you will notice, I used her thought as the first line in the song. I don’t know if she’ll ever notice my appre­ci­a­tion for speak­ing up. Life is a strange that way. Some­times we never see the reper­cus­sions of our actions. But I am glad that she shared.

High­lighted in this record­ing are the fol­low­ing artists:

Katie John­son, Annie John­son, Mor­gan Coo­ley, Gabby Genta, Lexie Jepp­son, Melinda Harper, Christina Walker, Haylee Jones, Gabby Ririe, Joy Pur­nell, Steven Mackey, Spencer Mad­sen, Austin Peery, Jake Thibault, Masen Thomp­son, Tan­ner Myler, and Cade Ander­son. Thanks you guys! You were GREAT!

This song played dur­ing the pre­lude por­tion of the Youth Cul­tural Cel­e­bra­tion for the Boise Tem­ple, which was per­formed on Novem­ber 17, 2012 in the Taco Bell Arena. It was such an honor to be involved in this event. Thank you to every­one who participated!

 

Killer Chocolate Cake

September 17th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Perspectives - (0 Comments)

I make this every now and then when we want some­thing extra spe­cial for dessert. This recipe is actu­ally from Hershey’s, and it is oh soooooooo good! The bat­ter is very thin and con­se­quen­tially the cake can fall if it is not han­dled with care, or removed from the oven too soon. But even if it falls, it really tastes good. YUM!

 

Hershey’s “Per­fectly Choco­late” Choco­late Cake

2 C sugar

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour

3/4 C Hershey’s Cocoa

1 1/2 tsp bak­ing powder

1 1/2 tsp bak­ing soda

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 C milk

1/2 C veg­etable oil (olive oil tastes the best!)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 C boil­ing water

Per­fectly Choco­late” Choco­late frosting

 

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round bak­ing pans, or one 13 x 9 pan.

2. Com­bine dry ingre­di­ents in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 min­utes. Stir in boil­ing water (bat­ter will be thin). Pour into pans.

3. Bake 30–35 min­utes, or until wooden pick inserted in cen­ter comes out clean. (Do not under bake or it may fall.) Cool 10 min, remove from pans to wire racks. Cool com­pletely. Frost with pecan and coconut frost­ing, or frost with “Per­fectly Choco­late” Choco­late Frost­ing. Makes 10–12 servings.

 

Per­fectly Choco­late” Choco­late Frosting

1 stick (1÷2 C) butter

2/3 C Hershey’s Cocoa

3 C pow­dered sugar

1/3 C millk

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

1. Melt but­ter. Stir in cocoa.

2. Alter­nately add pow­dered sugar and milk, beat­ing on med. speed to spread­ing con­sis­tency. Add more milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Bitly

September 6th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Books | Perspectives | Twitter help | Writing Tips - (4 Comments)

Twit­ter help for the new­bies out there.

Some­times it’s the lit­tle things that count. Any­one who works on the web knows that links mat­ter. If you haven’t checked out bitly, the time has come. It’s a fab­u­lous site that cre­ates short­ened web url addresses. And as any tweeter knows, the shorter, the bet­ter. To see for your­self, click on the link below.

bitly.com

Not only can you cre­ate short links on this site, but every link is saved for future ref­er­ence. These can be made pub­lic or pri­vate. In addi­tion, there is a tab for track­ing your link stats. Under this tab you can see the clicks for each link. You can even see where the links are being hit. Seri­ously, if you haven’t checked out bitly yet, do it now.

And since you’re going to love me for this, I’ll just say it now. Your wel­come! :)

 

 

Coming Soon!

August 18th, 2012 | Posted by Annette in Books | Perspectives - (0 Comments)

Sneak peek–

Com­ing this winter

The For­got­ten Queen

A tale of love, friend­ship, loy­alty, and betrayal.

Thanks to graphic designer John Mor­rell for the amaz­ing cover artwork!

The For­got­ten Queen is the lost account of Avalon and Arthur. Full of twists and turns, com­plete with a sur­prise end­ing. Retelling Camelot has never been so much fun.

So you’ve finally done it. You’ve got a web­site! Now your scratch­ing your head won­der­ing, how does every­one make this work? Believe it or not, you are not alone. Here’s a quick 10 step guide that will aid you along your journey.

1. Use meta keywords

Meta key­words and meta descrip­tions are the way google picks up your site. These must be added sep­a­rate from the body of your post via what­ever for­mat your site has. If you don’t add them, no one will know you are there. If you need tech­ni­cal help, get it!

2. Use permalinks

Use perma­links and slugs for the same rea­son. This is how google works.

3. Use plu­g­ins and widgets

Plu­g­ins and wid­gets can trans­form your site from some­thing lame into some­thing that really works. Once again, if you need tech­ni­cal help, get it!

4. Offer some­thing for free

For exam­ple:

Alle Wells offeres indie book reviews on her site. A quick visit helps read­ers see what is good in the indie industry.

Melissa Fos­ter offers author sup­port and ser­vices. Of course she sells a lot of books. Every­one loves her. She helps them.

Lia Lon­don brings read­ers into the writ­ing world. Read­ers become the writ­ers. Many peo­ple have always wanted to do this,but were too intim­i­dated to try on their own.

I admit that I’m an odd­ball in the mix. I offer free music edu­ca­tion work­sheets. That’s the point. Offer what you have. It’s also help­ful is you offer some­thing unique.

5.  Don’t be sneaking

Sneaky and solic­i­ta­tion don’t mix. Peo­ple are smart and sneaky almost always rubs the wrong way.

6. It’s just polite

If your site con­tains explicite mate­r­ial, don’t plas­ter it on the front page. Let peo­ple know in advance before they click. Some peo­ple don’t want to see it. Period.

7. This is your platform

Your web­site is a store front. Keep it pos­i­tive. Keep it going.

8. Social media

Twit­ter is set up for mak­ing con­tacts and tweet­ing ideas. It’s also a great way con­nect with read­ers. But even on twit­ter be polite. Show a few man­ners. Don’t assume someone’s an idiot and will click on your web­site because you scammed them into it. Instead of scam­ming, offer some­thing. Give peo­ple a rea­son to hit your site.

Face­book works for a lot of peo­ple. This is an area that I have cho­sen to keep per­sonal. My face­book friends are peo­ple that I actu­ally “know.” But a lot of authors have made face­book work for them. Give it a try.

There are a num­ber of other social media. Make your pres­ence on the web known. Pineter­est, squido, linkedin, etc. There’s a mil­lion of them. Redi­rect every­one to your webpage.

9. Dare to Dream.

This is why you have a web­site. This is why you’re read­ing this arti­cle! Keep your dreams. Make them hap­pen. They don’t hap­pen with­out effort. That’s a given.

10. Never Give Up!

Be resource­ful. Be cre­ative. But most of all, NEVER GIVE UP!