Friday, March 20, 2009

Naysayers and Online Promotion

~Sia McKye~

There are a lot of Naysayers out there who negate the value of Online Promotion. Particularly with using social networks to create name recognition to sell their products—books. They tout other methods, proven methods formerly used in promoting books and authors. What I say to the Naysayers, is this: Times change. The basic methods of publicity/marketing remain the same but the focus of the methods has changed. To be successful you must change with the times. Or get left behind.

These days, a great deal of shopping is done online, including books, music, movies, clothes, house wares and appliances—even cars and houses. Online is a HUGE mall and that’s the way you have to look at it. No it hasn't replaced concrete stores, but that doesn't reduce the validity of online sales, or online promotion. Why?

Face it, we’re a techie generation and the technology is there, in ever-increasing numbers, to facilitate online selling and buying. Studies track how much time the average person spends online for things other than working. While I don't have the figures at my fingertips, it’s a huge block of time. Computers can do about anything a TV can—provide you with the latest news, music, TV shows, movies, and books. Cell phones can hook you to your computer and access the Internet. C’mon. The Internet isn’t going anywhere unless some catastrophe happens to eliminate it. Naysayers have to get with the times. Which is why e-Books, Print on Demand or digital technology, and traditional published books in e-book format, aren’t going to go away, no matter how many opinions there are on what constitutes a real book.

If online sales weren’t valid, why is every paper catalogue put out have an online store? Why are even major manufacturers providing an online presence and a venue to sell their products? Everyone from attorneys to roofers sell their services on line. Manufacturers from Beer to Xanax use known personalities to sell their products. These personalities and stars are known because of their activity in sports and on the silver screen—and known on the Internet. Why? Name and face recognition.

Hollywood sells their products online. Their products are stars, producers, movies, and TV shows. The music industry is the same. Just about everyone who sells something has a website. It’s real. It’s today, not yesterday.

For instance, in Hollywood of old, anything that got the actors, producers, and the name of the movie or show, in the paper was publicity. It was encouraged, it was “leaked”, it fabricated. Paparazzi are still everywhere with hopes of catching something to write about and sell on the citizens of the movie and TV industry. But now, it’s not the papers that get it first, it’s the Internet and the publicity grinders make sure their people are on the internet. It’s the same method, different focus. Actors get known on the screen by the body of their work—if that was enough we wouldn’t see them in print or on the Internet. Personalities sell products. People want to get to know something about the actors not just the shows/movies they’re in.

If you’re an author and your product is good, you are going to sell it—if people know you have a product. How are they going to know? Today, it’s the Internet. Authors have to have an Internet presence. Social networks (no doubt there will be other ways in the future) provide a way for the authors to become known and to build a readership base. If the author is a known presence, then readers will know who these authors are, may have even chatted with them online. Readers will know the books, the storylines, and release dates. Consequently, authors will have better sales both online and where ever books are sold.

I’m not discounting the other avenues such as book signing events, speaking to book clubs, newspapers, radio, and TV, but, unless you have an existing platform for it, unless you already have name recognition, this may not increase your sales appreciably. Local, versus the World Wide Web. This is especially so given our present economic situation and the money spent to do this physically. The old ways vs. profits made? Getting known on the Internet can increase your sales. It’s free. Will it give you over night success? Pfft, not usually, in fact rarely.

It takes time and work to garner success. It may not seem like you’re getting anywhere in the beginning, but this is a long-range goal. The amount of publicity also depends upon how you promote yourself as an author and it depends upon how soon you start with gaining name recognition on the Internet before your book is released. It takes a lot of focused time and work.

My thinking on it this is if you go to all the trouble and time to write a book what’s the point if you’re not going to take the time and work to sell it? Or ignore the new ways to gain name and face recognition.

To the Naysayers, I again say, times change and either you change with the times or get left behind.

Welcome to today.

Sia McKye has spent over twenty years in marketing and promotion. She's written and published various articles on writing, marketing, and promotion. She's a Marketing Rep by profession and also writes fiction.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Learning to Juggle—Writer's Style

Today my guest is Sharon Lathan, who has joined the ranks of fan fiction writers. Her debute novel is entitled, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy ~ Two Shall Become One. Sharon talks a bit about a reoccuring theme that seems to resonate with all writers, balancing life and writing.

I can barely manage to toss one ball into the air and catch it without stumbling, let alone two or three. So, no, I am not talking about that kind of juggling! Rather, I am talking about writer’s juggling. This is a phenomenon that I would hear other authors talking about but until recent months I did not comprehend for myself. I suppose it has many names – a friend called it ‘deadline hell’ – and can involve different aspects of the publishing/writing/life game, but it amounts to the same thing: Finding some way to ‘do it all’ and not have your head explode! The kids may find that amusing, but you and I know who would have to clean up the mess.

I got a hint of it last year when I had to pause in writing new material to focus on the editing stages for my first book. It wasn’t too bad, though, since I was given plenty of time. In addition, the edits were relatively minor and the whole process was so new and thrilling that I delved in with gusto!

Then followed several months of nothing - the “lull” I called it. I am a novice, a publishing virgin as it were, but I had gleaned enough of the process to know that craziness was acomin’! So I took advantage of those months, immersing myself into the Darcys and writing furiously. It was fantastic. So fantastic that it was like a cold slap of water in the face to have to put that creativity aside.

2009 had loomed in my mind for ages. That was the year when my fortunes would change. *she hopes* March (and then again in September) are when my first novels would arrive. In my enthusiasm there were moments when I thought the days would never pass! Then Father Time did his thing and the calendar flipped over – it was January and barely had the first week ended before my Inbox was inundated with emails: My publicist telling me about the guest blogs, interviews, and ARCs sent out; my editor sending me the first editing notes on my second novel; other Sourcebooks staff asking me for a synopsis, photographs, and book cover ideas…….

It was a bit overwhelming but thrilling nonetheless. I was forced to buy a planner as the small pocket-type calendars that I had used for years were inadequate. Fortunately I am blessed with extreme organizational skills. Alright, OCD! Call it what it is, Sharon! I probably spent way more time than necessary writing notes and studying each website I was to guest on, but I think it paid off in the quality of the essays I wrote. I had determined to do whatever it took, to go well above the requirement, exhaust myself even. I never wanted to look back upon this time with regrets or the fear that something I did or did not do had lead to the failure of my novel.

That is where juggling became a vital skill. Discipline became extremely important. I am a highly disciplined person by nature, thank God, but in my writing I had not been forced to apply the talent. I love to write of the Darcys and I love the research, so if anything the difficulty arose in pulling myself away from the laptop to do laundry or vacuuming – blech! But now I had serious timeline and deadline issues. On the upside, I also had a ready excuse NOT to do the laundry or vacuuming! Ha! The family fell for that one and pitched in big time….shhh!

I wonder how actual jugglers feel as they train and perform. Is it a combination of exhilaration as the items whirl through the air, moving with the precision they work so diligently to attain mixed with the heart-stopping, jittery anxiety that they will mess up with bowling pins crashing onto their heads and the audience laughing in ridicule? I have no idea (remember, she can barely throw a ball), but the analogy sound apropos. And then there is the possibility that an incredible feat of aerodynamic dexterity will be accomplished only to have the crowd stare blankly, utterly unimpressed. Ouch!

Now I am on the downward slide. It is March 18 and the book has officially been out for some 3 weeks but actually for sale since late January. The guest blogs are written and have mostly all posted. The bulk of reviews have come in. Essentially the marketing machine is running on its own steam.

And I have mixed feelings about it.

One the one hand it is a tremendous relief as I was frankly exhausted and literally my health was suffering. Plus, for nearly two months now I have been unable to even consider writing new material. Now I am able to turn back to what enticed and captivated me in the first place: writing of the Darcys.

Yet, on the other hand it is like when the party ends or the visitors finally leave. Bittersweet. I already miss the heady excitement and zeal. Will it ever be this way again? I’ll let you know in September, but a tiny part of me knows that an experience the second or third time around is never quite as amazing as the first.

So I am very glad for the notes and calendar markings and blog pieces and photographs. They are a solid reminder of this incredible period of my life, no matter what happens with my book. I think the bowling pins fell on my head a time or two, but I have learned so much and would not change any of it for the world.

Thanks, Sia, for hosting me. It has been fun to talk about me for a change rather than just my saga! LOL. But, just so everyone knows: “Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy ~ Two Shall Become One” is available everywhere. Details about my debut novel and the entire series are found
on my website:

Sharon Lathan is a native Californian currently residing amid corn, cotton, and cows in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. She divides her time as homemaker nurturing a husband and two children, plus the cat, dog, and fish; while also working as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. Somewhere in there she finds time to write!

A little bit about Sharon's journey in writing Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy ~ Two Shall Become One:

Over Thanksgiving weekend of 2005 I entered a movie theater with my best girlfriend and teenaged daughter to watch Pride & Prejudice starring Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.

To my stunned amazement I walked out of that theater not only sporting a heart swelling with romantic sentiment and warm fuzzy feelings running amok, but I would soon embark on a pathway that would change my life.

I spent two months reading everything by or about Jane Austen (including Pride & Prejudice), and perusing the scribblings found on the plethora of Austen related websites. Always I was searching for the tale of Lizzy and Darcy’s subsequent life as I imagined it. I never found it. Finally, almost as an epiphany, but with a heavy dose of self-amusement and doubt, I deliberated writing down what I saw flashing endlessly through my brain. Thus, on a lark and with nary a shred of future consideration, "The Wedding Night" was written as a short story. The positive response was enormous, so I continued on. Before I fully understood what I was embarking on, I was wholly immersed. Like Mr. Darcy and his love for Elizabeth, I was smack in the middle of it before I recognized what I had started!

"Two Shall Become One" was born.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Balancing Work and Passion

Today my guest is award-winning and bestselling author Caridad Piñeiro. Caridad is also an attorney, wife and mother. When not writing, Caridad teaches workshops on various topics related to writing and heads a writing group. She leads a very busy life. Like many writers and authors in today's world, she works full time and does a balancing act between life and writing. How does she do it?

I get asked a lot of questions along a similar vein, namely:

1. Do you ever sleep?
2. Are you a vampire?
3. Do you ever take a break?

The answers are:

1. Yes
2. No
3. Yes

I will say, though, that if I had to categorize whether I was a Type A, B or C, I’d answer, I’m a Type AAA. Fact of the matter is, my grandfather used to say there would be time enough to rest when he was dead and I guess I really took that saying to heart. Which explains my Type AAA personality.

I definitely have a busy life, although I prefer to think of it as a full life. I work in New York City as an attorney, have been happily married for many years, have a great daughter who is also my best friend, enjoy other family and friends and have been blessed to be able to fulfill a lifelong passion – to write.

You are probably wondering how I do all that and still have time to rest. For starters, I get to write on my commute to and from work every day. It’s my “alone” time where I get to escape into the worlds and characters I create with my writing. Sometimes I am so into the story that the train pulls into New York without my realizing it. Luckily I’ve never missed my stop on the way home, although I have had a hurried shut down a number of times.

I also get up early on weekends – at six – and write for a few hours. That gives me the remainder of the day to hang with family, meet up with friends, and get some chores done and rest.

What’s my favorite kind of rest? Sharing time with family. Even if it’s something as simple as having a video fest, just being with family brings me peace. If we’re not just hanging out, we all love to travel and explore new places. I think I inherited that from my grandpa as well. He grew up in a very poor area of Spain and decided when he was a young man that he would seek his future elsewhere. His fortunes took him to Cuba and then to the United States. I was born in Cuba, not that I remember anything about it, but his love for adventure, and my jobs as an attorney and writer, have taken me to over a dozen countries and many more states, often with my family to share the adventures.

What’s my next favorite kind of rest? Hanging with my friends, especially my writing buddies. I love that my writing has brought me together with such a creative and unique group of individuals as well as the many fans who take a moment to chat with me or send me an e-mail.

In fact, my friends and I love spending time together and writing so much that we founded a new writing group recently – the Liberty States Fiction Writers. It’s been an amazing experience to start something from scratch with my friends and very rewarding because we’re busy sharing what we know, learning new things and meeting lots of interesting people who love writing as much as we do!

So now you know about my passions – family, friends, travel and writing. What’s great is that I’ve somehow found a way to meld and balance all of these. Granted it takes a little work and some juggling every now and then – especially when I’ve got a writing deadline – but all in all, I’m not complaining.

You may be wondering what I’m busy with now. Well, I’ve been doing some promotion for my February and March releases, HONOR CALLS and FURY CALLS respectively. They are a Nocturne Bite novella and Nocturne novel that are part of my popular THE CALLING Vampire series. I’m also waiting for the copy edits on my November release, SINS OF THE FLESH. I’m really excited about SINS because it’s my first single title paranormal romantic suspense release from Grand Central Publishing. While I’m waiting, I’m working on the second book in the series, tentatively titled STONE COLD SINS as well as two other books in THE CALLING, which will be out next year.

Which is probably making you ask again, “Don’t you ever rest?”

Of course I do, but who wants to spend too much time resting when you’re having so much fun?

Caridad Piñeiro is a multi-published and award-winning author. From the start, Caridad’s novels have received acclaim and have helped redefine the landscape of modern romance novels. In 1999, Caridad was published by Kensington as part of Encanto, the first line of bilingual Latino romance novels. In 2000, Caridad was one of the first Latino authors featured at the launch of BookExpo America’s Spanish Pavillion. In December 2006, Caridad helped Silhouette launch its successful Nocturne paranormal line with DEATH CALLS, one of the novels in the award-winning THE CALLING Vampire series. DANGER CALLS and DEATH CALLS were selected as the Top Fantasy Books of 2005 and 2006 by CATALINA magazine and Cataromance Reviewers Choice Award for Best Nocturne in 2006. Caridad’s eighteenth novel, MOON FEVER, a paranormal anthology with Maggie Shayne, Susan Sizemore and Lori Handeland, debuted in late September 2007 as #32 on the New York Times Extended Bestseller list.
Caridad’s CHICAS novels, including her seventeenth release, SOUTH BEACH CHICAS CATCH THEIR MAN from Simon & Schuster’s Downtown Press.

Caridad was born in Havana, Cuba, and settled in the New York Metropolitan area. She earned her juris doctor from St. John’s University and became the first female partner of Abelman, Frayne & Schwab, an intellectual property firm in midtown Manhattan.

You can visit with Caridad at her website or visit