SPAM vs Promotion #writetip #amwriting

I am a letterbox SPAMophobic! (Is there even such a word?) I have a NO JUNK MAIL sign displayed. It wasn’t only the constant stream of “buy me, buy me now!” mail I used to receive that made me put that sign up. It’s the fact that I would nearly weep when I had to throw away a vast amount of papers, flyers and pamphlets!

PAPER WASTAGE = Cut down trees 

It really did wind me up!

I can handle twitter spam. It’s not so bad. I can just choose to ignore it and it doesn’t waste paper 😉  The truth is that many of the people I follow on facebook or twitter are also first time, or experienced writers trying to sell their product and that’s okay with me. I often go and have a look. I’m a reader too, so I’m interested in other peoples work.

There are examples of novels that have caught my eye through tweets. Their messages worked for the author because I purchased! But why did I? It was because of the genre, the description, the cover or the author. The person is really interesting, fun and engages with me. I like them. That makes me interested in their work, so I buy the book.

However, from some, I receive the same message over and over again. My Facebook and Twitter walls are a stream of advertising. If these posts becomes too much, I simply un-follow them (twitter) or unlike their page (Facebook). Mostly, I tolerate these commercial interludes, as interspersed in their “I have written a book – go buy it” messages, are inspiring, funny and moving posts that I enjoy reading.

So my problem is, as a first time author, I now also have a product to sell

“Oh no,” I gasp in horror  😮

What do I do? I can’t spam. It goes against the grain. I can’t cope doing it. I don’t like it. It’s just not me.

I spam and then I can’t stand myself!

So, how does someone like me then sell their own product?

I have tried a couple of techniques:

  • SPAM – I feel guilty and barf into a paper bag.
  • Don’t bother, the book will sell itself. Mmm mm, yeah right!  There is no doubt about it, talking about my book definitely increases sales.

Anyone out there who is currently writing a novel will have to face this when your own book is published. There are some things I have learnt along the way:

  1. Don’t spam the same message over and over – it just annoys people. Vary the messages promoting your book as much as possible not just repeat the same one. Once your followers have seen it once, they don’t want to see it another 100 times.
  2. Be interesting and show people the real you, so they want to follow you and hear what you have to say about life, and not continuous spam about your product.
  3. All writers, traditional or self-published, need to find that unique marketing factor, and target the right audience with the right message. OK, so twitter makes it impossible to target just some of your followers, but point 2 addresses this, in that you can provide something for all of the people who follow you. In my case, my 11:11 fetish, writing experiences, my interest in 2012 and just being my normal silly self.
  4. The main thing I have learnt is that, at the end of the day, when people tweet about a book, I want to know “What’s in it for me?” “If I’m going to pay money for something then how will reading this book benefit me?” “Does the subject interest me?” “Does the writer interest me?”

Let’s look at point 4 a little closer. How about I change my marketing plan and think through the eyes of the consumer:

  • The story took many years to write and has been professionally edited. It is 124,000 words, 39 chapters, 220 pages – Value for money
  • It is a unique telling of a familiar topic – 2012, archaeological discovery, end of mankind, apocalypse based story – Originality
  • It contains factual, interesting information about the Maya civilization,  Maya Calendar, archaeology, solar system, 2012, religion, survival – Knowledge building
  • The genre is wide, a combination of thriller, mystery with an underlying love story. It is set in New Zealand, Palenque, New Yorkand Mexico City– Suitable for a wide audience
  • Hope reins supreme and our human will and ability to survive is paramount. Even in our darkest hour the light is always there. It describes how people suffer grief and survive through it – Inspirational  
  • There are some good Amazon reviews up (thank goodness!) – Reviews

Now I have to figure out how I convey these messages to people, only using 140 twitter characters. Any ideas? As a follower of authors (or other marketers), what tweets catch your eye? What makes you interested in their products?

If you are a writer, either published or about to publish your own book, what are your techniques and marketing plans? Do they work for you?

Have you thought about your own consumer or customer and how your product will meet their needs?

Meanwhile, I think I’ll do a tweet about my cat. She’s really funny 😉

Lisa 🙂

Author Interview: L Carroll

This is a repeat of an interview Amber and I recently did for our blog, authors block.

I loved the novel Lor Mandela: Destruction from Twins (5 stars!!) and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to ask author L Carroll some questions about her writing experiences and the new book in the series, Four Hundred Days.

Lisa, thank you for joining me on my blog.

 Thanks so much for having me and for your support on the “Four Hundred Hours to Four Hundred Days” tour!

 1. What first inspired you to become a writer?

Well, I’ve always enjoyed writing, but never in a million years did I think I was going to be doing it professionally. About seven or eight years ago I had a dream which I thought would make a great movie or book. As I pondered the dream, I thought, “I wonder if I could write a book.” That was how it all started.

2. For your first novel, Lor Mandela: Destruction from Twins, did you outline a story board first, or write and see where the story took you?

Have you heard the expression, “You just throw a bunch of mud at the wall and see what sticks”? This accurately describes how DFT came together. In the beginning there was no outline to speak of, and I’m sure that’s the main reason it took so long to write.

Funny Story… My family and I are in the process of moving right now, and I just packed up my office. In it, I came across a box stuffed to the rim with old “Destruction from Twins” chapters that never made it into the book.

Needless to say, “Four Hundred Days” was thoroughly outlined BEFORE I started writing.

3. Can you tell meabout that light bulb moment when the story first came to you? Or, was it more of a gradual development?

“Destruction from Twins” was one of those light bulb moments, for sure. The bulb popped on when I had the dream that I mentioned before. Chapter sixteen in DFT, “The Journal of Kahlie” is the written version of that dream.

However, “Four Hundred Days” falls into the gradual development classification. It began its progression even when I was still writing DFT, and continued almost until its last chapter. My original outline ended up being pretty close to the actual story, but there were definitely some last minute plot tweaks along the way.

4. How did you come up with the title(s)?

I tend to do this weird thing when I write. I pick a random letter from the alphabet, and then sort of invent a word in my head. That’s how the title of the series, “Lor Mandela” came to be. It wasn’t my only choice, though. I wanted the name of this beautiful, distant planet to sound somewhat ethereal and mysterious. Using my “pick a letter, any letter” method, I came up with about…oh…maybe half a dozen names that, to me, sounded otherworldly & then wrote them all out side by side. Lor Mandela was the one that sounded the best, and looked the best in print.

As to the names of the books themselves, “Destruction from twins and so it must end,” is the first line of the prophetic riddle, the Advantiere, which runs throughout the book. The name “Destruction from Twins” didn’t come about, though, until the book was in the final stages of editing. Up until then it’d been called, “Lor Mandela & the Trysta Advantiere”, but I decided that it was probably not a good idea to have a title where the only discernible word in the English language was the word “the”.

“Four Hundred Days”, started out as “2121”, but — as it turned out — the number 2121 didn’t even end up being a part of the book. Once you read 400, you’ll have a pretty clear idea as to why the title is what it is.

5. One of the first things that drew us to your book is the stunning cover picture. Is that model anyone you know or was it designed for you?

Thank you! Actually, the cover of DFT was designed by Trisha Fitzgerald, a very talented graphic designer inGermany. When she sent back the original proof it featured a girl who looked quite a bit younger, and who didn’t really have the look I was going for. I ended up hunting down the picture of the girl who is currently on the cover at a stock photo repository — so, no. I don’t know her, but I think it might be fun to meet her someday.

6. Do you have any interesting writing quirks you could share with us? 

Oh…too many to list! I’ll just tell you about the two writing quirks (or rituals) that I have.

First, I have to be in a good mood when I write. I’m not sure why, but even when I’m writing the dark stuff, I have to be up, up, UP! If I’m grouchy or bummed about something, I own a goofy pair of glasses that I force myself to slip on. They’re these awful white, plastic, pointy things, with rhinestones all over them, and no lenses. All I have to do is look in the mirror or confront one of my kids while I’m wearing the “crazy lady glasses”, and joviality is sure to follow!

The other thing I do is act out scenes. I start each writing session by re-reading the last chapter I wrote, and then acting out the next one. This helps me visualize the scene, and helps make it more real when I write it. I’m a horrible actress, though, so I try to avoid being seen. Unfortunately, I get caught by someone or another in my house more often than not!

7. How long did it take you to write Lor Mandela: Destruction from Twins VS Four Hundred Days? Was it faster to write the sequel? Do you feel you learnt from your experience writing the first book?

Destruction from Twins took almost six years from start to finish. (Eek!)

When I first started writing, I was working as a District Manager for a large home furnishings retailer, overseeing 10+ stores, and putting in 60-80 hours a week, so there wasn’t much time for writing. Not only that, but — as I said before — I really didn’t have a plot to follow. Then, about four and a half years into the process, I was forced to retire due to an illness and suddenly found myself with many unoccupied hours. It was then that I really dove in, came up with an outline for the remaining chapters, and went to work on DFT. From that point, I finished in about eighteen months.

“Four Hundred Days” only took a total of fourteen months, and was much easier to write! Like I said…for me, the outline was crucial. Also, after having gone through the editing process with the first book, I was on the look out for mistakes as I went along. This produced a far more polished final manuscript. When it came back from editing, there were just tiny adjustments to be made, so I must be getting better…at least grammatically!

8. We recently wrote a blog about “writers block”. Have you ever experienced that and, if so, how did you keep yourself focused and get back on track?

Fortunately, I don’t experience writer’s block all that often. For me, when it does happen, it usually is caused by one of the following: lack of sleep; a self-imposed deadline; or life’s little stresses. When it’s lack of sleep, there’s nothing that fixes it, except, of course, sleep. After a good night’s rest or a nap, (yes, I do nap in the middle of the day sometimes), the ideas usually start to pop back into my head.

As far as the other stresses go, I have two methods. One, I take a bath. Some of my best ideas come to me while I’m relaxing in a nice warm tub! And two, I write anyway. If I can get the basics of the next chapter down, I can tweak the words later—once they are flowing nicely again. Often, just having a rough (or even a VERY rough) draft is enough to jump-start my brain. At any rate, I try not to freak out about it too much. I believe that panicking only makes writer’s block worse!

9. Who is your favourite character to write about and why?

Definitely Lortu… He’s creepy, mysterious, and can disappear and reappear in shadow. Plus, he has traits that make him more animalistic than human, he rules a massive clan of nearly lawless Shadow Dwellers, and you never quite know whether he’s the good guy, or the bad guy.

10. We look forward to your upcoming book Four Hundred Days. Can you share anything about it with us?

Sure! Here’s a brief synopsis:

“Four Hundred Days” follows Audril Borloc, the heiress to the Lor Mandelan throne, as she disobeys her father the High Ruler, and sneaks away to Earth to save one of her dearest friends from an evil tyrant. Her journey takes her to the haunted cells of Alcatraz Penitentiary; a creepy abandoned sawmill in the Midwest; and back to Lor Mandela, where she learns that sometimes friends can turn out to be enemies, foes can become allies, and just because someone dies, it doesn’t always mean that their dead.

11. Where can we buy the books from?

These are the links for “Destruction from Twins”.  “Four Hundred Days”, will be available on July 15th at both CreateSpace.com and Smashwords.com, and will be available on Amazon, B&N, and a bunch of other websites about 2-3 weeks after that.

In paperback off Amazon or here off CreateSpace and available in ebooks formats here off Smashworlds and Barnesandnoble.

Lor Mandela

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions. Destruction from Twins is a fantastic read and I can’t wait to read Four Hundred Days!!!

BRING IT ON!!!

Lisa 🙂

2012 – #Maya the #Bible and the 144,000 Connection

During research for my novel, 2012 The Final Revelation, I studied, among other things, the Maya Calendar and the Holy Bible. I wanted to understand the end times from a biblical perspective and see if I could find a link between the two subjects.

It was a long shot, but I found a connection – the 144,000.

The Bible – Revelation 7, 3-4 says:

“The angel said, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees, until we mark the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads. And I was told that number of those who were marked with God’s seal on their foreheads was 144,000’.”

The Maya Calendar

The famous Maya Calendar, also known as the Aztec Calendar or Stone of the Sun, sits prominently in the NationalMuseumof Anthropology & History in Mexico City. This museum plays an important part in my novel and is a key location and setting.

It is from this stone, and the ancients’ incredible time keeping abilities, that weird and wonderful theories about 2012 have emerged over the years. The story told in my own novel is just one of countless books on the subject.

The connection to 144,000

Here is a short excerpt from my novel to explain the 144,000 connection:

“Ben explained further. “The ancients had many ways of counting time. They had two yearly cycles—the Tzolkin which is two hundred sixty days, and the three hundred sixty-five Haab. Then they had months called Uinals, which are twenty days, and years or tuns of three hundred sixty days. They had even longer periods of time, like seventy-two hundred days, called the K’atun,” Ben stopped talking and looked at Andrew, eyebrows raised.

“That makes so much more sense!” Andrew quipped.

Ben smiled. “The baktun is one hundred forty-four thousand days long, hence the long count,” Ben continued. “The culture believed that, starting from the birth of Venus, after thirteen baktuns, the world would come to an end. It ends on 0.0.0.0.0.”

“How do we know it ends on the twenty-first of December?” Andrew asked. “I mean exactly that date?”

“Well, if you work backwards, they ended the calendar on the thirteenth baktun. The last baktun ended on September 18, 1618, or around that date. Because the period of time for one baktun is about three hundred ninety-four solar years, the next one is December 2012.”

Andrew made a face. “So 2012 minus 1618 is three hundred ninety-four solar years,” Andrew said.

“Perfect,” Ben grinned back.

“How long ago did they come up with the number?” Andrew asked enquiringly.

“About twenty-three hundred years ago.”

“OK so let’s see if I have this right,” Andrew said. “One baktun year is three hundred ninety-four Solar years. Those are made up of twenty K’atuns.”

“Yes,” Ben responded.

“Then one baktun equals twenty K’atun, which equals one hundred forty-four thousand days or around three hundred ninety-four solar years,” Andrew continued.

“You got it,” Ben replied.

“One number is familiar,” Andrew said, his eyebrows furrowed. “The same number you just mentioned at breakfast.”

“What number?”

“One hundred forty-four thousand days on the baktun…same as the figure in Revelation.”

Ben made a face. “You’re right! I never made that connection before!” He scratched his head, pondering. “It is exactly one hundred forty-four thousand days, the same as the number of survivors men­tioned in Revelation!”

“Coincidence,” Andrew mused.

“Weird though.”

Is it just a co-incidence? Possibly yes.

But, I believe, sometimes a simple discovery can be part of a larger picture. Put all the jigsaw pieces together and one day we may know the answer.

Plus, co-incidence or not, this subject still makes for a great story!

What do you think?

Lisa Flaus

My novel