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One of the biggest challenges facing authors today is getting word out about our books, enough so our little babies get shoved to the front of the bookseller line. An author’s skill lies in word crafting, not marketing, at least not for the majority of us.

I entered the published works world in 2011, with SHADOW’S EDGE, the first in my Kyn Kronicles series. I didn’t have a clue as to how to “market” myself or my work. Instead, my publisher put it out there, I visited various author blogs, started a Facebook and Twitter account. After that, I went head down and stayed down until SHADOW’S SOUL was done and in. I came up, took a look around, and learned my presence had been swept under a rising tide of new works. I became another shipwrecked survivor floating on a sliver of wood in an ocean of books.

What is a newbie author to do?

I turned to writer communities for help. And, boy howdy, was everyone willing to give me suggestions.

–Do a review tour

–Use this promotion company

–Go to conference

–Advertise (insert place here)

–Get a social presence (and be sucked into the big, black hole of never-ending procrastination)

–Visit other author blogs (or the flip-side, have authors visit yours)

I tried it all, got some boosts here and there, but in the end, my wallet was thinner, and I was discouraged even as I completed my third book, SHADOW’S CURSE, and started on a second series (PSY-IV Teams) with HUNTED BY THE PAST.

Now, if I wanted to portray myself as a wise, worldly writer, I’d stop here and tell you I did this because a the best way a writer can market themselves is to write another book…then another…and so on.

While that is true, (because I am a writer and writing is what I do) in actuality I was burying my head in the sand, too freaked out by the overwhelming massive storm of marketing it seemed I needed to do. Instead I’ve spent four years writing and learning (and burning out) about marketing.

Then I got laid-off (still hoping it was a good thing, but we’re still waiting to see) and the idea of being a “full-time writer” was staring me in the face. I have two publishers, two series, six books and am planning a third series, which makes it sound like being a full-time writer should be good to go, right? Nope, because there’s this other side of being a writer that needs tending to, the dreaded circus of marketing. With time on my hands, I decided to hitch up my big girl panties, use the analytical skills honed in eighteen years in the corporate world, and apply it my business as a writer.

As I delved deeper and deeper into marketing strategies for writers, I ran into an unexpected hitch. I belonged to a publisher, I had friends who were treading the indie route, and they seem to have a bit of flexibility I didn’t, or so I thought. To be able to help boost sales, I need to regain reader attention, to do that I needed to utilize strategies that worked for my indie friends.

I began to plan.

Ultimate goal: READERS.

Lure: Offer SHADOW’S EDGE for free for a limited time. This was a difficult decision as I worked hard to make that book, and handing it out free makes me nervous. Still, if I can grow my readership in three months, I’ll put it up there and let it fly. It’s a damn good first book…

Thought process: If readers like the first book, then much like me upon discovering a new author, they’ll go pick up the other three, and if they’re still with me, they’ll go pick up the second series.

Sounds simple, but really isn’t.

First hurdle, my contracts. When you enter a contract with a house, you need to read them very carefully. Thankfully, I had a lawyer friend who was able to help with mine, and I knew I was coming up for renewal. But I have a great relationship with my house, and I’m having a hard enough time writing and marketing, much less formatting, editing, etc. (Yes, I know I do freelance editing for other writers, but I’d rather have different eyes on my own works.) Plus, each of my books renews at a different time, which means, I’d have some back and some not. Since my house and I are both in this adventure to get my books out, I decided to craft a marketing plan spanning three months that would help us both. I presented it, and was thrilled when they stepped right up, willing to help however they could.

We did a proofread edit of SHADOW’S EDGE (shivers, don’t get me started, it was hard not to rewrite with the knowledge I’ve garnered over the last five books, and NEVER go back and rewrite your first book, it made it to print, let it go), they helped with graphics for the tour, helped with vendors so we could get it out FREE everywhere (except B&N who balked,so fine, they don’t get my e-book version for the summer), and had some great suggestions.

It took me a month, but instead of shelling out for a promotions company, I managed (with a HUGE assist from the writer community) to get 90 blog stops during the three-month tour (Jun-Aug), plus Goodreads giveaways, and book listings. On the flip side, I also have a great bunch of authors coming here to visit and keep you all company.

The tour doesn’t “officially” start until June 1st, but in the first two days that SHADOW’S EDGE went free, my second and third books jumped up the rankings. While I won’t have actually numbers until September or so, this made me smile (cautiously). It was a shock to see how fast the ranking changed once it went free, but I reminded myself I went from all e-books, to all Free e-books (and yes, there is a difference and the Free e-books is a smaller pool), but still, my nefarious plan to create new addicts readers seems to be working.

Make a note to come back in September and we’ll compare some notes. Until then, if you haven’t, go get SHADOW’S EDGE for FREE while you can. Do me a favor? Spread the word!

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