Should You Use An Author’s Photo?

Jeust the other day somebody asked me about using an photo of yourself on the back of a paperback.

“It feels a bit weird, putting my own photo on the back of a paperback, even one of my own paperbacks,” was what she told me. “Do you think that you should do it?”

Well, let me put it this way.

I like having my picture taken – just in case you haven’t figured that out yet. But aside from overly-needy egomania – I have a very real reason for making certain that there is an author’s photo on each of my books.

Let me explain it to you.

Part of the reason I don’t mind is because I started out as a traditional author, and my publishers ALWAYS insisted upon an author’s photo.

However, I agree with them totally.

All kidding aside, an author’s photo helps to establish a connection between the reader and the author. Think of how much you enjoyed your grandmother/mother/dad telling you a bedtime story. Just try and picture yourself listening to that same story told from a tape recording. Besides that, I often take my book table around to different festivals and sell and sign my books and it is a great help when people ask me “Did you write this?” and I say, “Yup, that’s my picture on the back cover.”

People want to get to know you – even in a sort of psuedo-fashion. They want to feel like they actually know you. People WANT to hear stories from real people, so I am a FIRM believer in author’s photos and bio material of all sorts and styles. Think of all of those records you see with the pictures of the performers. (I know – records and tape recordings – I am dating myself).

So my advise to any author – traditional or indie – is to make certain that you attach a photo of yourself to that back cover. I know you’re shy and I realize your acne might embarrass you – but heck, look at this way. These are your words that you have written and you REALLY ought to show that you are proud of your own words.

Incidentally, one of those photos is NOT me.

🙂

But, on the other hand – I actually have an author’s photo prepared for the possibility that I might someday release a book under a pseudonym and want to keep my identity secret.

warm sweater 001

If that doesn’t work I could always go with this one!

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Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

I Need Your Vote! (Advertising Kindle Scout)

Joynell Schultz

First off, I’m asking for a favor. If you have an Amazon login, would you head over to Kindle Scout and nominate my novel, Blood & Holy Water? Voting ends March 5th. (Thank you in advance.)

bhw-ks

Kindle Scout is Amazon’s publishing platform. It was designed to keep a steady stream of good books flowing into their Kindle Unlimited program. Authors need to have a polished book, including the novel itself, the cover, editing, etc, before they submit into the program.

Once in the program, it gives Amazon a 45 day exclusivity window to consider publishing your book. To keep the author busy during this time, they are urged to solicit as many nominations as they can. As a reward for nominations, your book gets to be displayed on the Hot & Trending list. Amazon never really says if the nominations matter, speculation is that they may matter if your…

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Kobo Plus Launched in Netherlands

This is potentially exciting news for all of us Kobo authors. I’ve set up all of my Kobo releases for Kobo Plus – and I am hoping that they eventually expand the Kobo Plus network into North America.

Kobo Writing Life

On February 22, 2017, Rakuten Kobo and bol.com launched ‘Kobo Plus’ – a new subscription service offering readers the largest all-you-can-read selection of digital books in The Netherlands and Belgium, with titles ranging from new releases and bestsellers to classics and old favourites, including both Dutch and international titles. Customers can try the eBook subscription service free of charge for 30 days.

“Kobo Plus allows readers to effortlessly discover new authors and try out new genres that they might not otherwise try, encouraging people to read more,” says Pieter Swinkels, Executive Vice-President, Rakuten Kobo. “The extensive selection available through our subscription service means the only thing readers need to consider is what book to read next.”

Kobo Plus was developed in close collaboration with leading Dutch publishers. The subscription service operates on a fair-share model, with payouts funded by subscription revenues, which enables a self-sustaining service built for the long-term—encouraging…

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Oscar Night – 2017

Okay – so I think that it was 2003 – the year that THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING shook spears and splintered shields and turned the Oscar night into a sword day, a red day, ere the sun rose – that my wife and I watched all of the movies that had been nominated for best movie BEFORE the actual Oscar ceremonies. That was a good year, a green year, a year of fat stacks and buckets of money and the time to get to see the movies.

🙂

We haven’t got around to seeing ANY of these nominated flicks and from what I saw the only movies here I would REALLY like to see are HACKSAW RIDGE and HELL OR HIGH WATER, although that HIDDEN FIGURES looks pretty interesting as well.

hell-or-high-water

Don’t talk to me about LA-LA LAND or you and I might come to blows, quicker than you can say quick step.

🙂

But, just in case you likewise haven’t caught up with the Oscar-nominated movies, check out this handy guide to ALL of the movies nominated for Best Movie this year.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

The secret ingredient to true love

K. M. Carroll, Author

I once stood at the window of our apartment, watching this guy and girl have a terrible fight in the rain. She was trying to leave, but the car was locked and he wouldn’t give her the keys. He was raging about how she had disrespected him. She refused to admit any wrongdoing, blaming him for his lack of love. To his credit, he never punched her, although she hit him a couple of times. Eventually, he stormed off and she called someone to pick her up.

It was fascinating. If the woman refuses to respect her man, he withholds the love that she craves. The relationship goes into a death spiral.

In our culture, women have been elevated to goddesses. But they are also not held accountable for their lack of respect. Very rarely is that addressed in fiction: women are always princesses and men are always Prince Charming…

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Top 10 Horror Story Podcasts that Will Terrify You

I’ve actually had a story voiced-over in PSUEDOPOD!

And of course, I also have to mention my appearance in THE NIGHTIME PODCAST!

 

Horror Made

top10horrorstorypcastthumbEver miss being told a bedtime story that ends up freaking you out so much that you have feverish dreams of monstrous creatures? I did. So I figured I would bring you my favorite podcasts that fill my scary stories need.

As a quick side note, I did a top 10 Horror Podcasts of 2014  and I’ve discovered so many more that I’ll be expanding that into a top 20 or 50 list for the end of this year.

On to the stories!

Top 10 Horror Story Podcasts

10: Campfire Radio Theater

crt1Keywords: Radio Theater, short horror stories

This podcast has some incredibly well produced shows, it’s old time radio horror style shows produced in the modern day.

I really enjoy the stories they produce, but why this podcast isn’t higher up on the list is because it posts very erratically. Sometimes three months go by in between each episode…

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How To Promote a Kindle Release

kelpie

In case you haven’t seen this cover enough…

Back in the spring of 2016 my novel KELPIE DREAMS was fortunate enough to be selected for Kindle Press, thanks to a successful Kindle Scout campaign. I have talked about this at length throughout my blog but now I need to talk to you folks about the ways that a writer such as myself can promote their Kindle Press release. In fact, this is going to give ALL of you indie authors out there some ideas on how to promote any sort of a Kindle e-book release, so there is something here for everybody.

Let’s start by explaining how the steps work here. When you enter an unpublished manuscript into a Kindle Scout campaign you are given thirty days to jump up and down on the internet, trying to attract some fresh hungry readers to come and take a look at your Kindle Scout campaign page and hopefully NOMINATE your book. Then, at the end of thirty days, if you have attracted enough nominations – AND (and this is WAY more important than the nomination process) if you have written a book that Kindle Scout deems salable, then you are selected for publication.

That’s what happened to me. I got enough nominations and wrote a good enough book that I was awarded a $1500.00 advance and a publication deal with Kindle Press.

Kindle Press is the publishing arm of Kindle Scout.

So, in May 2016, my book KELPIE DREAMS was published by Kindle Press and I began trying to pay back my advance. That’s the hitch, you understand. You have to sell enough books to pay that $1500 back before you can begin receiving royalty checks in your bank account.

Which kind of sucks – but hey, I am used to this. I was a traditional writer back before I became an indie writer, and actually I still publish traditionally, which makes me a HYBRID writer.

Personally, I have always felt that the term “hybrid” sounds a little bit more like some sort of supernaturally nutritional loaf of bread that you have to know the secret password to purchase at shady midnight health food bars – but I haven’t had enough coffee yet this morning to think straight – so what do I know?

Well, selling the first $1000.00 bucks worth of books turned out to be easy. The first few weeks all of the power and muscle of the Kindle Press promotional team was placed squarely behind my release, but as I squeaked past that thousand dollar point things began to peter out.

Now I can hear some of you folks out there saying “AHA!” and “I KNEW IT!”. I can hear your “This is all a freaking conspiracy!” bells going off and I can hear other folks coughing loudly into their palms and saying “SCAM!” like they were trying to scare a cat off – but it isn’t so.

The fact is, I know of quite a few Kindle Press writers who paid off their advance VERY quickly – some in the first two or three days. So this isn’t a scam and this isn’t the way that it always plays out. I just didn’t push hard enough during those first couple of sales weeks.

So – what can you do about this sort of a situation?

Well, back in January I was notified by the folks at Kindle Press that they were about to launch my book into a huge BOOK FOR A BUCK promotion. Meaning that KELPIE DREAMS, along with 99 other Kindle books, were going to marked down to a dollar for the entire month of February.

Now was the time to get out there and promote. Only problem was, I fell down with a case of Noro-Virus just as sick as I could get and I missed out on getting some of my promotional spots lined up.

I’m better now and I’ve been promoting all February long, as best as I could manage to.

The only problem is, I am on the Bataan Death March of a fiscal budget. I am so broke that all of the Krazy Glue and duct tape in the universe could not put my bank balance back together, so I could not afford some of the ritzier book promotional services.

blog-photo-001

Hands-on promotion technique

Here’s what I did.

For starters I weeded through TWO book promotion lists, looking for the cheap and the free.

(and doesn’t that sound like a kickass name for a spaghetti western – THE CHEAP AND THE FREE?)

I checked out Kindlepreneur’s list of 127 Best Book Promotion sites as well as this big fat list.

I found 18 services who offered a CHANCE at free promotion – Awesome Gangs, Pretty Hot.com, Discount Bookman, Book Pinning, Bookzio, Daily Cheap Reads, ebookasaurus, Book Circle, Free Book Listings, eBook Listen, Book Bongo, readper, Bargain Booksy, Indie Book of the Day, Ebook Booster, Reading Deals, Bookscream, Armadillo ebooks, eBookSoda, Book Pebble and eBookSkill.

Now, the thing to remember is when you sign up for FREE promotion, you are making a bet that those services MIGHT just have enough room to fit you in “pro bono” and MIGHT just think your book is salable enough that they will get behind you and promote it. They do make a bit of money through their Amazon Affiliate Connection, but it isn’t a lot. They REALLY make money by having authors PAY them to promote their books. So, if you have the money, I recommend actually spending a bit of it on promotion – but I’m broke right now, so I don’t.

The other problem is that you don’t always hear about when your book is being promoted by any of these free services – IF they promote it at all.

I was helped out by Awesome Gang, BookScream, and readper for free.

Actually, my readper promotion just went live today. The company is being set up by indie author, Jaxon Reed, and you really might want to get in on the bottom floor of this promotional service. I have been VERY impressed with his service so far.

In addition, I have taken part in several multi-author cross-promotions during the month of February, one of which got me up to the 12250 Amazon ranking, which is an all-time high for this month, so far.

Thanks, Roz Marshall!

For those folks who are wondering, a multi-author cross-promotion happens when a group of authors get together and set up a master-page with one or two of each of their sales books listed at a bargain price, and then they promote that master-page through each of their personal fan newsletters. It can work out really well if you have a good book with a good cover and get yourself in with a good group of authors. And, best of all, it is often free, although some cross-promotions ask for money, primarily so that they can offer a cool gift to folks who visit the cross-promotion, like a free Kindle or an Amazon gift certificate.

That’s something for another blog entry, though.

I also used HeadTalker and CoPromote and group Retweets to get the word out about my KELPIE DREAMS sale through Twitter. Now understand, it is a foolish game to go and try to sell your e-books on Twitter. There is just too damn much white noise and chatter. Folks tend to avoid your BUY MY BOOK tweets. But, as I said, I am broke and desperate and I have no pride what-so-ever.

Besides, I do see a little bounce from this strategy. It isn’t the best way to go about promoting your e-book, but if you are financially-challenged, it is better than nothing.

On February 15th I paid five dollars for a Book Pebble promotion, and I have to say that the pebble didn’t make too much of a splash. I’m not sure if it sold ANY copies at all.

So far, throughout the month of February I have balanced at around an Amazon ranking of 30000 to 50000, meaning that I am selling about 10 books a day. As I mentioned, at one point I was up to about 12000, which is about 15 books per day. This morning I started out at about 29000 and have moved up to 27300, which is about 11 books per day so far.

(for those folks who are wondering just WHERE I am pulling these numbers out, I use the Kindlepreneur Calculator, which gives me a rough estimate of how many books I need to sell in a day to hit a certain ranking. It isn’t accurate, but it seems to be pretty close to the mark.

Today, as I mentioned, my readper promotion is going live and my eBookSoda is also going live. So I am hoping that this one-two promotion will bump up my rankings enough that folks will begin to notice KELPIE DREAMS and maybe I will sell a few more copies.

I hope you folks will cheer me some good luck as I head towards the end of February!

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon